UN CESCR called on Kazakhstan to respect labor rights of women and migrants

During its 65th session the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR) has addressed a number of recommendations to the government of Kazakhstan. Considering the country’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in the sphere of women’s employment, the Committee’s experts welcomed the reduction in the list of professions prohibited for women, but expressed their concern about the continued prohibition of certain occupations for women while scientific or medical assessments of the harm of particular jobs for reproductive health of women were lacking. Members of the Committee recommended that the Kazakhstan authorities review the list of prohibited occupations for women and ensure that restrictions are applied strictly in order to protect motherhood based solely on medical indications. In addition, the experts suggested that Kazakhstan make sure that legislation on the protection of workers’ health is not applied too broadly, which restricts women’s access to a number of occupations. Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” has repeatedly drawn the Committee’s attention to discrimination against women in labor sphere due to existence of lists of professions prohibited for women. It was within the framework of combating such prohibitions, that the campaign All jobs for all women had been launched by ADC “Memorial”.

The official recommendations of the UN CESCR discussed the issues related to the situation of migrants, which had been raised in the alternative materials and the joint report Invisible and exploited in Kazakhstan: the plight of Kyrgyz migrant workers and members of their families”, which had been presented by ADC “Memorial”, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and its affiliates – “International Legal Initiative (ILI)” public foundation and the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law.

UN CESCR recommended that the Kazakhstan authorities provide migrants with access to official employment and the working conditions required by the country’s legislation, improve the mechanism for accepting migrants’ complaints and providing them with legal services, ensure the abolition of forced labor and exploitation of migrants, adopt measures to regulate the status of migrants employed in the ‘shadow economy’, take measures to provide affordable social housing for vulnerable groups, including migrants.

The members of the Committee, having noted the relevance of the problem of minors’ labor in Kazakhstan, both involving the country’s citizens and migrants, called on the authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan to take effective measures to combat all forms of child exploitation.

The experts paid special attention to the problem of non-provision of education for migrant children due to lack of registration or identity documents, and recommended guaranteeing education to everybody without discrimination, following the general recommendation of the Committee No.13 (1999), in particular Article 13 (“Right to education”).

The Committee recommended that the authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, which should include sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) among the possible grounds for discrimination and pay particular attention to protecting foreigners from direct and indirect discrimination, especially in registration at the place of residence, on which social benefits and other guarantees depend, also providing them with legal access to the labor market. The Committee’s experts considered this recommendation to be a priority and asked Kazakhstan to report on its implementation within 24 months.

The Committee’s experts considered the issue of trade unions to be no less important: in two years Kazakhstan will have to inform the UN CESCR about measures aimed at ensuring the rights of trade union representatives, prevention of criminal prosecution of participants of strikes and protection of trade union activists from threats and insults.