The UN CERD called on the Kazakh authorities to provide full compensation for the victims of the anti-Dungan pogrom and a fair trial

Upon consideration of the state report as well as alternative materials from civil society during its 106th session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination addressed its recommendations to the authorities of Kazakhstan. They respond to the issues raised in the ADC Memorial report.

Important recommendations were issued on overcoming the consequences of the anti-Dungan pogrom (February 2020). The Committee takes note of reports that the ethnic-based violence against persons belonging to the Dungan community, which occurred in February 2020 in the Korday district, “was the result of longstanding ethnic tensions. The Committee is concerned that such tensions and feelings of fear persist in the Dungan community, despite the State party’s efforts to address them. The Committee is also concerned by reports that members of the Dungan community did not receive a fair trial and that compensation for damages to Dungan property has been insufficient. In this regard, the Committee recommends:

(a) Reinforce the measures taken to prevent the occurrence of ethnic-based violence against persons belonging to the Dungan community, including by intensifying its activities to build trust and harmonious relations between the Dungan community and its neighbouring communities;

(b) Investigate claims that persons from the Dungan community, who were subject to criminal investigations and proceedings related to the violent events of February 2020, did not receive a fair trial, and establish responsibilities including with regard to possible instigators;

(c) Provide adequate compensation to Dungan victims of the violent events of February 2020, including for vehicles that were lost and cattle that was stolen during the events”.

The Committee responded to reports of numerous inter-ethnic conflicts. The Committee is also concerned by “the lack of open discussion in the State party of racial discrimination, racist hate crimes, and inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts. The Committee notes the shift in the focus of the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan from organizing cultural events to identifying and resolving inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts, but is concerned that the Assembly is not sufficiently effective in performing these tasks. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Acknowledge the existence of systemic discrimination against ethnic minority groups and of tensions between ethnic groups on its territory, create opportunities for open dialogue between various ethnic groups, and allow for public discussions on ethnic tensions and conflicts;

(b) Increase and strengthen measures to promote inter-ethnic harmony and tolerance and overcome prejudices and negative stereotypes, including in schools and universities and through the media;

(c) Ensure that local authorities and law enforcement officials are trained in identifying and resolving ethnic tensions that may lead to violent conflicts;

(d) Strengthen the legal and political power of the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan and enable it to be more effective in promoting peaceful coexistence of ethnic groups in the State party and in preventing and addressing ethnic tensions and conflicts, including through mediation”.

The CERD noted with regret the lack of information on the situation of Roma in Kazakhstan and recommended that the authorities include in their next periodic report statistical data on Roma communities, including data on their participation in political life, on the observance of their socio-economic and cultural rights, focusing as well on the issue of gender equality.

The Committee expressed its opinion on the general policy of Kazakhstan in the field of inter-ethnic relations and its concerns by reports of “an official discourse, including in school curricula, which makes a distinction between autochthonous ethnic Kazakhs, and other ethnic groups that are referred to as “guests”, and which leads to feelings of exclusion among ethnic minority groups”. The Committee also noted insufficient efforts of the authorities in preventing interethnic tensions in the regions where repatriated ethnic Kazakhs are resettled. The Committee recommended ensuring fair and equal representation of ethnic minorities, especially women, in public decision-making bodies and in the civil service, and taking special measures to remove obstacles that members of ethnic minorities face in this respect. The Committee recommended that “the State party create awareness among ethnic minorities of the importance of their participation in political life and in the civil service”.

The experts of the UN CERD gave priority to the recommendation on the equal access to education for all without discrimination of any kind, including on the grounds of legal status and ethnicity. Being concerned about the low number of students from ethnic minorities in higher education, the Committee recommended that Kazakhstan takes “measures to support students with ethnic minority background to access postsecondary education and that it periodically evaluates the effectiveness of such measures”.

The Committee paid special attention to the problem of minorities’ languages. While noting Kazakhstan’s efforts to promote trilingualism in the education system (Kazakh, Russian, English), the Committee is concerned that this approach may have led to the marginalization of ethnic minority languages. The experts noted the shortage of pre-schools and kindergartens with instruction in ethnic minority languages. The Committee recommended that sufficient opportunities should be provided for children from ethnic minorities “to learn, and be educated in, their mother tongues, including in pre-schools and kindergartens, with an adequate amount of schools, professional staff, and textbooks provided”.

ADC Memorial in its report raised the problem of granting asylum to persecuted representatives of ethnic minorities of the XUAR of the CPR. Being concerned by the reports that applications for asylum of certain nationalities are sometimes denied based on political and security considerations, the Committee recommends that the State party take measures to ensure that all asylum applications, regardless of nationality and background of the applicant, are processed in line with international law, in particular with the principle of non-refoulement.