During the 62nd pre-session of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) experts considered implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by Kazakhstan. Expert of the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” presented a list of issues, which had been filed earlier by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its affiliates, the International Legal Initiative Foundation (ILI) and the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KBIHR).
One of the important issues in Kazakhstan continues to be the vulnerable position of women in the labor sphere, which persists among other things due to the existence of the list of professions prohibited for women and the discriminatory norms of the labor legislation. Even the official state report submitted by Kazakhstan in 2017 called the existing ban on certain professions for women discriminatory. Therefore the members of the UN Committee asked why the list of professions prohibited for women had not been abolished in Kazakhstan so far.
FIDH and its affiliates also raised the problem of the violation of economic and social rights of labor migrants, including the problem of forced labor, which involved many citizens from neighboring Central Asian countries, while the struggle of law enforcement agencies in Kazakhstan with a well-established illegal recruitment system continued to be ineffective.
Among labor migrants who arrive in Kazakhstan there are thousands of women and children whose situation is particularly vulnerable. Pregnant women, who are being forced to do hard work, do not receive childcare benefits or maternity leave due to childbirth. Teenagers also experience all the risks of labor migration same as adults, including terrible working conditions, scanty wages, lack of access to healthcare. They also do not have the opportunity to study and as a result of that miss the opportunity to get skilled work later in life.
In order to change this situation the organizations that have submitted a joint list of issues proposed to revise the role of labor inspectorates in Kazakhstan, which are currently unable to adequately protect the rights of migrants. Experts also pointed to considerable restrictions in the implementation of economic and social rights, which were being imposed by strict rules of the obligatory residence registration (propiska) and recommended that these regulations should be changed.
During the pre-session of the Committee the experts were also interested in the problems raised by other organizations. This includes the situation of trade unions, which had considerably deteriorated following the adoption of new legislation, as well as the absence of legal norms for protection against discrimination, etc.
UN CESCR will forward its list of questions for Kazakhstan in the coming weeks.