Kyrgyzstan is in a difficult situation in compliance with the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Most violations of the rights of migrant workers – citizens of the country — occur outside in countries that have not ratified the Convention, first of all in Russia and Kazakhstan. Having overcome the difficulties of the acute phase of the pandemic, in 2022, migrant workers faced another challenge: Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine caused an economic crisis, and Russia’s militaristic propaganda led to an increase in xenophobic sentiments against migrant workers from Central Asian countries. Russia’s migration policy is constantly being tightened, contradicting the real need and interest of the Russian public and private sector in migrant labor. When submitting the alternative report, ADC Memorial drew the Committee’s attention to the need for additional efforts by the Kyrgyzstan authorities to protect Kyrgyzstan citizens working in Russia from discrimination, paying special attention to respect for the rights of women and girls, and the need to reform legislation on the repatriation of migrant children.
After reviewing the state report on the implementation of the Convention at the 37th session (November 27 – December 8, 2023), the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers (CMW) issued recommendations to the Government of Kyrgyzstan, taking into account the issues raised in the alternative report of ADC Memorial:
The Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, as well as about information on various forms of discrimination in the fields of employment, education, and health related to migrant workers and members of their families with irregular status. The Committee is particularly concerned about the discrimination faced by migrant workers living with HIV in Kyrgyzstan in connection with mandatory testing to obtain a work permit.
The Committee recommended:
- Adopt comprehensive legislation prohibiting all forms of discrimination in accordance with the Convention and other relevant international treaties;
- Take all necessary measures to amend legislation in order migrant workers living with HIV can obtain a work permit;
- Ensure that all migrant workers and members of their families, both documented and in irregular status, located on the territory of the country or under its jurisdiction, enjoy the rights recognized by the Convention without discrimination, in accordance with article 7 of the Convention, both in law and in practice;
- Take active measures to eliminate discriminatory stereotypes against migrant workers and members of their families in political discourse, as well as in the media, by strictly applying the provisions of criminal law and drawing the attention of law enforcement officials, politicians, journalists and the general public to the discriminatory nature of such acts;
- Provide information in its next periodic report on measures taken to improve and implement the legislative framework in the field of non-discrimination with regard to the rights of migrant workers and members of their families, regardless of their status.
The Committee noted the progress made by Kyrgyzstan in improving and expanding consular services abroad and recommended that a gender balance would be observed among consular staff in order to better response to the needs of migrant women. The Committee recommended providing consular assistance to Kyrgyzstan migrant workers who have been victims of discrimination and violence, protecting their rights and interests in countries of employment, and facilitating the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of perpetrators of crimes against the migrants.
In order to counter trafficking in persons, the Committee recommends that the guidelines for the early identification of victims of trafficking would be improved and mechanisms for support, referral, rehabilitation and social integration of victims of trafficking would be strengthened, including by providing them with access to shelters, legal, medical and psychosocial assistance; ensure that children who are victims of trafficking are provided with appropriate assistance and protection; and take full account of their special rights and needs. In the next periodic report, the Committee requests data on trafficking in persons, the number of prosecutions and convictions in cases of trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation, as well as the impact of measures taken to combat these phenomena.
Children in the context of international migration
In order to completely exclude repressive models from the repatriation of children, meaning inter alia the complete elimination of the migration deprivation of liberty of children, the Committee recommended that the procedures for the repatriation of migrant children would be brought in line with the latest standards of child rights, including Joint General Comments No. 3 CMW/No.22 CRC (2017) “On general principles concerning the human rights of children in the context of international migration” and No.4 CMW/No.23 CRC (2017) “On State obligations regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration in countries of origin, transit, destination and return.”
This means replacing the outdated Chisinau Agreement, which ADC Memorial called for during the #CrossborderChildhood campaign, with preferably bilateral agreements on the humane repatriation/readmission of children.
The Committee remains concerned about the high number of children of migrant workers who remain without family care and suffer from violence, abuse, exploitation, and neglect. The Committee recommended the State party to conduct a national study on the situation of migrant children, both those who arrived in Kyrgyzstan from other countries and those who remain in Kyrgyzstan while their parents work abroad.