Recommendations to Kazakhstan as part of the UPR: special attention devoted to migrant rights

17.12.2019
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In anticipation of International Migrants Day on December 18, ADC Memorial, Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan, and the International Legal Initiative welcome recommendations to improve implementation of international treaties and realize fundamental human rights that Kazakhstan received as part of the Universal Periodic Review. Members of international delegations devoted special attention to the spheres of employment and migration, which are both important for the country since, as a receiving country, Kazakhstan has almost one million migrants (approximately seven percent of the population) who regularly face violation of their rights in various areas of life and have fallen victim to various forms of exploitation and human trafficking.

Over 10 recommendations related to migration and employment were mentioned:

  • improve the regulatory foundation for ensuring migrants’ social rights, assist with their integration into the labor market;
  • provide access to education and healthcare for migrants and members of their families;
  • ensure non-discriminatory treatment of migrants by society;
  • accede to the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;
  • suppress child labor;
  • increase the number and frequency of work inspections;
  • ensure that the quota system for hiring foreigners is in line with universal human rights standards;
  • guarantee realization of the right of migrant children to education, including by eliminating the need for a residence permit;
  • amend provisions of the law on unions, which place unjustified limits on freedom of association, ensure that all workers have the ability to form and join independent unions;
  • cancel requirements for mandatory registration and membership in umbrella associations and unions.

The consequences of migration and the need to protect the labor rights of foreign citizens in Kazakhstan have been raised repeatedly by human rights defenders (FIDH, ADC Memorial, Bir Duino, and ILI) in the following reports:

“Invisible and exploited in Kazakhstan: the plight of Kyrgyz migrant workers and members of their families”

“Women and children from Kyrgyzstan affected by migration”

“Migrant workers in Kyrgyzstan: no status, no rights”

Alternative information based on these reports was submitted to the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR)  and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

The CESCR noted mass violations of migrant rights, the problem of forced labor and exploitation, the vulnerable position of women, and widespread violations of the right to education for minor migrants. The questions of guaranteeing the independence of unions and stopping the persecution of union activists was prioritized for interim reports to the UN. UN CEDAW noted the difficult situation of female migrants and called for expanded opportunities for their employment and professional training, as well as ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The opinions of UN experts and the UPR recommendations will have an enormous impact on the achievement of positive results in respect of observing human rights and improving the situation of migrant workers in Kazakhstan.