At the end of the 34th session, the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) has published a List of Questions on the observance of the Convention by Kyrgyzstan.
Members of the UN CMW have requested the information on the restrictions on the rights of migrant workers and members of their families in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and on the measures taken by the government of Kyrgyzstan to mitigate its adverse effects, including in relation to migrants who were in the Russian Federation during the pandemic, and migrants having problems with documents and experiencing difficulties in repatriation.
The question of UN CMW about the measures taken to regulate the return of Kyrgyz children left without parental care has a particular importance. For several years, ADC Memorial has been developing the #CrossborderChildhood campaign aimed at protecting the rights of migrant children, calling for an end to the practice of taking children away from their parents and separating them during the process of expulsion/repatriation. ADC Memorial welcomes the fact that in Kyrgyzstan, detention of migrants and deprivation of children’s liberty in closed institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs system in the process of repatriation are almost never used in practice. The transit of children under 3 years old has already been practically transferred to the social sphere; the country has a Regulation on the return of children-citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic left without parental care and located outside of the country. Responsibility for the entire process of returning children to Kyrgyzstan and their further placement rests with the authorized bodies for the protection of children, the bodies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, health, and population registration. However, the repatriation of older children is still carried out through the Center for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (CPPN), subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Thus, in order to completely exclude repressive models from the procedure for repatriating children, the legislation of Kyrgyzstan should be brought into line with modern international standards of children’s rights. This means replacing the outdated Chisinau Agreement with bilateral agreements on humane repatriation and readmission of children.
The Committee has posed questions about the measures taken to promote the rights of Kyrgyz labor migrants abroad, about assistance in creating normal, fair and humane working conditions in the countries of migration, in particular in the Russian Federation, as well as about the measures taken for the reintegration and employment of returning migrants and members of their families. Earlier, ADC Memorial repeatedly raised the question of the insufficient response of the Kyrgyz authorities to violations of the rights of migrants in Russia: racism and xenophobia, ethnic profiling, anti-migrant raids and special police operations, mass expulsions for minor violations, deception by employers, forced labor, massive lack of access to medical care, lack of real access to general education and preschool institutions for children of migrants. Human rights activists are also concerned about the lack of effective programs in Kyrgyzstan that help recent migrants reintegrate after a long stay abroad. With its questions about the situation of labor migrants abroad, the Committee emphasizes the responsibility of the country of origin of migrants for violations of their rights.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty Olivier De Schutter called on Kyrgyz authorities to reduce dependence on external migration and create jobs within the country. “The talented youth of Kyrgyzstan should not become the country’s most important export,” he said. In his opinion, expressed after a visit to Kyrgyzstan, the authorities should invest in preschool and secondary education, social support for the poorest, and fight corruption, which is throwing the country back and ruining its reputation in the eyes of donors and investors.
Photo: CC BY 2.0 Ninara