Discrimination in Kyrgyzstan subject of an alternative human rights report to the UN UPR

Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” and LGBTIQA human rights organization “Kyrgyz Indigo” prepared an alternative report on some aspects of discrimination against vulnerable groups in Kyrgyzstan for the 35th session of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review.

The authors of the report from “Kyrgyz Indigo” LGBTIQA organization emphasized the lack of legal anti-discrimination standards in Kyrgyzstan for protection against hate crimes, including SOGI-motivated crimes. The influence of a patriarchal society, combined with deep-rooted traditional stereotypes, leads to various forms of violence against LGBTI people by their family members, their environment and police officers. Activists from “Kyrgyz Indigo” team registered several cases of fraudulent rendez-vous organized by the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs via social networks, which had lead to detentions, extortion of money and threats of outing. At the same time, the police have not responding properly to reports of impending or already committed crimes against LGBTI persons.

Experts have noted violation of the right to peaceful assembly for LGBTI people, homophobic rhetoric from the members of the parliament, which systematically continues to go unpunished, as well as hate speech and calls for violence against LGBTI people in the media, which sometimes had lead to actual attacks on LGBTI people or their forced emigration from Kyrgyzstan.

The authors of the report drew attention to the problems of multiple discrimination faced by LGBTI people. Participants of a peace march in 2019 had been subjected to SOGI-based threats and attacks. LGBTI persons had been harassed by police in the south of Kyrgyzstan and some had been subjected to additional pressure due to their Uzbek ethnic origin. “Kyrgyz Indigo” reported cases of dismissal or refusal to employ HIV-positive persons, despite the legislative prohibition of discrimination based on positive HIV status. Trans women were regularly subjected to violence and extortion by Interior Ministry officials, as well as by their clients, relatives and other aggressors.

Reporting on the topic of gender rights, human rights activists have noted the difficulties in implementing women’s right to work in Kyrgyzstan: women make up only 2/5 of the economically active population of the country, while they receive wages equal to only about 2/3 of men’s wages given the same gender-neutral indicators such as the working age. At the same time women make up 60% of the informal sector, and on top of that there still exists the state register of 446 occupations prohibited for women. Welcoming the initiative of the authorities to revise the list of prohibited professions, the experts insist on the complete abolition of this discriminatory document. The campaign #AllJobs4AllWomen launched by ADC “Memorial” calls for the abolition of such prohibitions in all countries.

The report also highlighted the situation of ethnic minorities in Kyrgyzstan. Following the last UPR by Kyrgyzstan, the country was recommended to adopt measures to combat ethnic discrimination, in the first place, and to investigate the cases related to the ethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan back in 2010. However, even now the situation remains complicated. Among the problems faced by ethnic and linguistic minorities in Kyrgyzstan human rights defenders listed bias by law enforcement officials, lack of representation in government agencies, difficulties in finding work, and lack of conditions for learning native languages. The structural discrimination of Mugat (Lyuli, or Central Asian Romani group) and Roma has not been overcome. Earlier, ADC “Memorial” and “Bir Duino” raised issues of the difficult situation of ethnic minorities in Kyrgyzstan in a report to the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Experts also raised the problem of the difficult situation of Kyrgyz citizens involved in labor migration, given that every fourth citizen of productive age worked outside the country and at least half of the migration flow was composed of women. The report described the difficulties that arose not only during the labor migration, but also existed after the return of migrant laborers home. The vulnerable position of women lead to gender-based violence, while minor migrant workers were not legally protected and had to sacrifice their education in favor of earning wages. The unsettled status of children in the migration legislation of the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia leads to systematic violation of the minors’ rights, including their detention in transit centers for migrants. The campaign of ADC “Memorial” #CrossborderChildhood is focused on the problems of the return of migrant children to the countries of their origin.

The authors of the report hope that the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and other changes in laws and practices will lead to an improvement of the situation of vulnerable groups in Kyrgyzstan.