KYRGYZ COALITION TALKS STRUGGLE ON  Parties struggle to forge winning 
combination.  By Ainagul Abdrakhmanova


POVERTY DRIVES CHILD LABOUR IN KYRGYZSTAN  Hardship forces children to neglect 
schooling and go out to work.  By Asyl Osmonalieva, Gulzat Abdurasulova


legislation must ensure truly independent inspections of detention facilities.  
By Yulia Kuznetsova

rules on asylum-seekers in the face of accepted international standards.  By 
Andrei Grishin

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Parties struggle to forge winning combination.

By Ainagul Abdrakhmanova

As the final results of the October 10 parliamentary election were announced 
this week, Kyrgyzstan's president Roza Otunbaeva urged political parties to 
accelerate coalition talks so that the process of forming a government can get 
under way.

In a video message posted on her website, Otunbaeva said she hoped that by the 
end of this week, parties would have named the members who would be taking up 
seats so that parliament can convene for its first session. Under the 
proportional representation system used for the ballot, the 120 seats in 
parliament will be filled from the parties’ lists of candidates.

The president said she planned to meet party leaders to discuss the progress 
they had made on building coalitions, and would select one bloc to form a 
government on November 8.

As none of the five parties that won seats secured an absolute majority, it 
falls to the president to award one bloc the right to choose a prime minister 
and thus a cabinet.

The announcement of final results came on November 1; it was delayed because 
electoral officials had to deal with allegations of voting irregularities, even 
though the vote has been seen as Central Asia’s most democratic election to 
date. The Butun Kyrgyzstan party, which failed to pass the threshold needed to 
win seats, has staged countrywide demonstrations to demand a recount.

The final results are unchanged from the preliminary calculations made straight 
after the election, and leave Ata-Jurt with 28 seats, the Social Democratic 
Party 26, Ar-Namys 25, Respublika 23, and Ata Meken 18.

The numbers mean that at least two, possibly three need to form a coalition to 
secure the 60-plus majority that would make them the inevitable choice for 
Otunbaeva. But more than three weeks after they began talking to one another, 
no coalition has emerged.

The most likely combinations would involve either Ata-Jurt or the Social 
Democrats, each in combination with one or two others.

Ata-Jurt is a relatively new party, describing its members as “national 
patriots” and reflecting opposition to the interim government that replaced 
former president Kurmanbek Bakiev, ousted in a popular uprising in April.

By contrast, many leading Social Democrats were closely involved in the 
post-Bakiev administration.

According to Bishkek-based political analyst Orozbek Moldaliev, "The most 
likely coalition right now is Social Democrats-Respublika-Ata Meken.”

The three parties have 67 seats between them.

Respublika is a new party and in some respects the wild card in this election. 
Analysts have previously suggested it could strike a deal with Ata-Jurt. But as 
Moldaliev pointed out, Social Democratic and Respublika leaders have recently 
been talking publicly about teaming up.

Ata-Meken, another party involved in the interim administration, is a natural 
choice of partner for the Social Democrats.

But speaking to RFE/RL radio on November 2, Ata Meken leader Omurbek Tekebaev 
said his party had not been formally approached.

"We are the smallest party. No one is taking us seriously yet, so no one is 
holding any official talks with us,” he said.

Independent political analyst Medet Tyulegenov said coalitions could only built 
by parties that shared broadly similar visions. The Social Democrats and 
Ata-Meken favour turning Kyrgyzstan into a parliamentary democracy. Both were 
closely involved in drafting constitutional changes designed to make that 
happen. The constitution was passed in a national referendum in June. Both 
Ata-Jurt and Ar Namys have indicated that they preferred the old system based 
on strong presidential rule.

But as Tyulegenov put it, "Under certain circumstances pragmatism may outweigh 
such differences."

Around election time, there were many reports in the local media about party 
leaders going off to Moscow to seek its blessing and support.

However, Andrei Grozin, director of the Central Asian department at the 
Commonwealth of Independent States Institute in Moscow, downplays concerns that 
the Kremlin is exerting undue influence on the political scene in Kyrgyzstan.

“What Russia is interested in above all is stability in Kyrgyzstan," Grozin 
said, adding Russia was providing substantial assistance to Kyrgyzstan, which 
is desperately short of funds because of political turmoil and general economic 

Grozin noted the remarks made by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev following 
the June referendum in Kyrgyzstan, in which he suggested that what the country 
needed was strong centralised rule, not a parliamentary system. But Grozin said 
that regardless of these comments, “it doesn’t matter to Russia what kind of 
political system Kyrgyzstan has".

Nikolai Kuzmin, editor of the political magazine Expert Kazakstan, says the 
same is true of Kyrgyzstan’s large Central Asian neighbour.

Whichever political grouping is in charge of the Kyrgyz government, he said, it 
is going to have to seek financial assistance and political support from 

“In Kyrgyzstan, politicians are mainly oriented towards the voters and only to 
a lesser extent towards external players,” Kuzmin said.

Ainagul Abdrakhmanova is an IWPR-trained journalist in Bishkek.

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central 
Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the 
European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and 
Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no 
way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign 
Ministry of Norway.



Hardship forces children to neglect schooling and go out to work.

By Asyl Osmonalieva, Gulzat Abdurasulova

“Make way, make way!” the thin-looking teenage boy calls as he manoeuvres a 
barrow piled high with vegetables through the crowds at the Farmer’s Market in 
Bishkek, capital of the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan. 

Just 15, Nurlan gives the impression he is an old hand at this heavy work, 
which he is – he has being doing it for two years.

His day begins at five, so that an hour later he has hired a barrow and can get 
started. He carries purchases weighing up to 100 kilograms from market stalls 
to customers’ cars, and sometimes to another market 20 minutes’ walk away.

Depending on the time of year, there are between 150 and 200 adolescents 
working as porters at this one market alone, a pattern repeated across 
Kyrgyzstan. Although the youngest work at this market is 14, children under ten 
are known to be working elsewhere.

Nurlan’s story is fairly typical. As his father is an alcoholic, his mother 
Kenje has been left to look after four children of whom he is the eldest. Two 
years ago the family left their village in the Chui region, north of Bishkek, 
and moved to the capital Bishkek in hope of better prospects.

“When my mum brought me and my brothers to Bishkek, I immediately started 
looking for work as I wanted to help my mum,” Nurlan recalled. “My uncle 
suggested I work as a porter at the vegetable market as he said there were good 
earnings to be made there. Of course, he warned me it would be hard work but 
that didn’t worry me as I had to earn money.”.

Although he accepts that the work is tough, Nurlan resents the degrading manner 
he is treated.

“In the time I’ve worked as a porter I’ve become used to being treated like a 
loaded donkey. I take orders from clients without a word of protest,” he said. 
“I want to break free from this humiliating situation and save some money, get 
an education and find another job. But for now I’ll have to put up with it.”

Nurlan should be in fifth grade at secondary school, but dropped out a year ago 
to work full-time. He would have liked to continue in school but realises that 
will not happen any time soon.

His family relies heavily on the five or ten dollars a day he brings home. With 
his mother’s income from selling snacks at the market, the household has a 
total income of around 175 dollars a month, of which 55 dollars goes on rent.

Kenje said she regretted not being able to send Nurlan to school, but said 
there was no going back to her village where her husband “sells everything in 
the house to buy alcohol and beats the children”.

“Here, all together, we can get out of poverty,” she said. After the interview 
was conducted, she managed to get a better-paying job as a seemstress and the 
family’s situation improved a little.


The data on children at work is still only partial. The only official statistic 
available dates from 2007 and indicates that more than 40 per cent of children 
in Kyrgyzstan were working. What this does not show is how many are working 
part-time and still attending school.

A survey conducted by the El Pikir polling organisation with funding from the 
United Nations children’s agency UNICEF showed that more than 40,000 children – 
around four per cent of the school-age population – were not in school 
regularly or at all in 2007. Some non-government groups believe the real figure 
is three times that number, meaning that some 14 per cent of children are 
missing out on education.

The Bishkek office of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, told IWPR 
that information gathered by a number of NGOs suggested that 120,000 children – 
three times the number given by El Pikir - were missing out on education. (See 
Kyrgyzstan: High Cost of “Free” Education on school drop-outs.)

“There are no official statistics on children at work,” Irina Karamushkina, a 
newly-elected member of parliament who previously served as deputy education 
minister, said. “Many high-ranking officials, including regional education 
heads, fear that if they provide accurate figures, they’ll lose their jobs. So 
no one has counted these children.“

The Kyrgyz constitution bans the use of child labour, and the country has 
ratified the key international documents covering the issue – the UN Convention 
on the Rights of the Child, the ILO Convention Concerning the Minimum Age for 
Admission to Employment, and the ILO Convention Concerning the Prohibition and 
Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour.

National legislation is clear – employers may not take on anyone under the age 
of 16, or 15 in certain exceptional circumstances.

The problem is that children, just like adults working in the black economy, 
operate under the radar. They are paid less than adults and more compliant as 
they are unaware of their rights.

“These boys working as porters at markets don’t sign contracts with their 
employers, they just have a verbal agreement, because the law prohibits child 
labour, particularly its worst forms, and this job requires the child has to 
carry heavy loads,” the ILO’s Amina Kurbanova told IWPR.

Other common jobs done by children include sweepers, market sellers and in car 
wash. As Kurbanova pointed out, some of the more alarming cases involve 
children doing dangerous work like coal mining and scavenging scrap metal from 
disused uranium waste dumps.


One of the main areas of child employment, and one of the hardest to police, is 
agriculture, where it is not always clear whether a child is are simply 
performing the odd task for its parents – perfectly acceptable by most 
standards – or is routinely working long hours in arduous jobs.

Karamushkina said that while some children were keen to help their families, it 
also happened that “they want to attend school but their parents force them to 

As Karamushkina pointed out, children worked informally even when Kyrgyzstan 
was part of the Soviet Union, particularly when extra hands were needed on the 
state’s cotton and tobacco plantations.

Retired history teacher Kokysh Sagynalieva said chronic hardship was changing 
attitudes to child labour for the worst.

“Previously, a child who helped parents or relatives was learning skills that 
would prepare him for adult life,” she said, noting that it was considered 
normal for children to perform household tasks. “The children were rewarded for 
work, but there is a line between help and exploitation. Unfortunately, recent 
years… have seen a rise in mass poverty, and the line has become blurred in 
adults’ minds. Now children are literally forced into slave labour. Who is to 
blame? The state? The parents? The people who exploit children? Maybe all of 

Nurbolsun, a 15-year-old from the village of Ken-Aral in the northern Talas 
region, is a typical occasional child worker in the countryside. He normally 
goes to school, but drops out completely during the spring sowing and autumn 
harvest seasons.

“In autumn and spring, all my classmates are out in the fields,” he said, 
noting that even teachers do not go to school during those seasons.

Nurbolsun works on the family bean plot, its main income source, looks after 
the livestock and harvests the potato crop.

“I’ve been working in the fields since I was maybe seven or eight,” he said. 
“Now all the work round the house falls on me…. I’m not going to classes right 
now, no time for that.”

Nurbolsun is unusual in that he comes from an educated family. His father 
trained as an economist but works on the farm because he cannot get 
professional work, while his mother is a primary teacher, a job that does not 
pay much money. They support five children and a grandmother, who gets a small 

Nurbolsun’s late grandfather was a school headmaster, and he himself once hoped 
to follow in his footsteps. Although he used to enjoy school, he now sees he 
has missed so much that his education will be limited, and now plans to set up 
a small business like a café or acquire some land of his own when he is old 

Experts warn that this pattern of absenteeism will produce a poorly educated 
generation and reduce literacy rates, thus restricting opportunities for people 
to rise out of poverty.

“Uncontrolled labour practices have a damaging effect on educational standards, 
and in some cases also on children’s health,” human rights activist Yelena 
Voronina said.


At the moment, most work on child labour is done by non-government pressure 
groups. But experts agree that tackling the problem requires concerted efforts 
by government agencies and a realisation by parents that routine manual labour 
is different from occasional voluntary help.

Karamushkina said the issue of child labour in agriculture was so sensitive 
that political will faltered when it came to enforcing the rules. Local 
government was often afraid to put pressure on farms and other businesses, and 
these in turn had a vested interest in using cheap labour.

“No one will take the risk of issuing a decree, as this document would then 
need to be implemented,” she said.

Aziz Ahmedov, head of the labour ministry’s Youth Labour Exchange, said very 
few cases had ever been brought against employers for the illegal use of child 

“There are now a range of state [health and safety] inspections, but the 
reality is that at markets and in other economic sectors, children perform a 
substantial amount of work and carry weights unsuitable for minors. All this 
happens with impunity,” Ahmedov said.

A member of a youth group who asked to remain anonymous said corruption was so 
commonplace that penalties were easily evaded.

“Even if [an employer] is found out during an inspection, he can always bribe 
his way out,” he said.

Karamushkina said a number of government agencies needed to be involved – the 
ministries of health, education and youth affairs, and above all the labour and 
employment ministry’s department for child protection. But she claimed the 
latter department was not doing enough; it “attends round-tables and speaks, 
but nothing happens beyond that”.

Karamushkina said the new government currently being formed would definitely 
have child labour on its agenda, and warned that if the child rights department 
continued to fall down on its duties, she would use her position in parliament 
to lobby for the new post of special presidential representative for children’s 
rights by the president.

She said there were practical solutions for covering labour shortages at peak 
times in the farming cycle, for example by recruiting university and college 
students as temporary workers.

For Cholpon Jakupova, head of the legal advice group Adilet, the bottom line is 
that all children should be in school.

“Free schooling is not just a right but also an obligation for every child. 
Those who prevent this legal obligation from being fulfilled are breaking the 
law and should be held to account,” she said.

However, the key contributory factor – poverty – is not something the Kyrgyz 
authorities will be able to address rapidly. Caught in an ongoing economic 
crisis, the new government faces the additional cost of rebuilding areas of 
southern Kyrgyzstan devastated by ethnic violence in June.

The names of some interviewees have been changed to protect the identity of 

Asyl Osmonalieva and Gulzat Abdurasulova are IWPR trained journalists in 

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central 
Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the 
European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and 
Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no 
way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign 
Ministry of Norway.



United Nations rapporteur says legislation must ensure truly independent 
inspections of detention facilities.

By Yulia Kuznetsova

While Kazakstan has adopted numerous recommendations to prevent torture 
occurring in detention, it still needs to reform its laws if it is to stamp out 
the practice, according to the outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on 
Torture, Manfred Nowak.

Nowak, a leading human rights lawyer from Austria, spoke to IWPR shortly before 
stepping down at the end of his term on October 31. He is being replaced by 
Juan Méndez, from Argentina.

He visited Kazakstan at the invitation of the authorities there from September 
29 to October 1 to take part in a round table discussing how recommendations 
from his mission last year have been implemented.

In a report following his May 2009 mission to Kazakstan, submitted to the UN 
Human Rights Council this March, the Special Rapporteur said the use of torture 
and other forms of mistreatment went beyond isolated cases.

He recommended that national criminal legislation be amended to bring the 
definition of torture into line with that used in the UN Convention against 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and also 
to create an effective preventive mechanism; investigate allegations of 
mistreatment promptly and impartially, and transfer temporary detention 
facilities from the interior to the justice ministry.

IWPR: In your six years as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, you have visited 
17 countries, in 16 of which you found evidence of the use of torture and other 
cruel and degrading forms of treatment. Most of these countries are parties to 
the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment 
or Punishment and to its Optional Protocol [allowing external scrutiny of 
places of detention]. In your view, what is preventing these countries from 
fulfilling the international obligations they have undertaken?

Manfred Nowak: It is all down to the political will of these countries. I am 
profoundly convinced that if a state is willing to eradicate torture, it will 
be able to do so. That isn’t in fact as costly as it might seem at first sight.

The first thing is that states need to be constantly pursuing preventive 
measures to counter the use of torture. Secondly, it’s important for every 
specific case, every report of the use of torture or cruel treatment – even the 
suspicion that this is happening – to be properly investigated, and for those 
responsible to be brought to account.

Believe me, if every officer in law enforcement agencies and other state 
institutions were aware that he faced imprisonment if he used torture, the 
situation would change radically in the near future. But in practice, the 
authorities in most countries in the world give their law-enforcement agencies 
tacit approval for it [torture] to happen. In rough terms, this is how it looks 
– the authorities say, “Yes, torture is bad, but sometimes it’s allowed, and if 
it comes to it, we’ll protect you.”

IWPR: In talking about the practice of torture and the reasons why it exists, 
experts cite three factors – the lack of criminal liability for torture, the 
absence of investigations into allegations and complaints, and the lack of 
procedures for prosecuting perpetrators. Are all these factors equally 
prevalent in every country?

Nowak: Of course not. For a start, torture isn’t recognised as a separate 
criminal offence everywhere. In some cases, the definition of torture is too 
narrow, or misses important elements contained in the [UN] Convention. In 
Kazakstan, for example, criminal responsibility for torture is restricted to 
state officials, not for actions committed by other persons, for incitement, or 
for the open or tacit approval of state[-employed] individuals.

But even if the practice of torture is a criminal office in a given country, 
that doesn’t mean that allegations of its use will be investigated to the 
extent required, because most countries have a problem with the lack of 
independent bodies mandated to conduct independent investigations into reports 
that torture has been used by servants of the state.

Even when national institutions initiate checks with regard to allegations by 
citizens that torture has been used, and even if they are inclined to believe 
it did take place, it is very rare for the evidence collected to be placed 
before a court. The factors at play here include corruption in a range of 
institutions including the justice system, and also the phenomenon of corporate 
solidarity among police, judges and other employees of the system.

For this reason, I have spoken repeatedly of the need for an independent system 
for investigating allegations of torture, one that will engage solely in these 
issues with no outside pressure.

IWPR: Kazakstan, a country you have visited twice – in May last year on a 
country visit and in October this year as a participant in a round-table that 
discussed implementation of your recommendations – does not have such a system.

What are your impressions from what you observed and heard in Kazakstan?

Nowak: I must say that the reactions to my enquiries and initiatives relating 
to this country have come as a pleasant surprise to me. The very fact that a 
year after my country visit, I was invited to a conference to discuss how my 
recommendations are being implemented is indicative of the position the state 
is taking.

A number of my recommendations have indeed been acted upon, but at the same 
time, a large section of my recommendations concerning legislative reforms 
still awaits implementation.

For example, a number of draft laws still require more work, in my view; 
notably the one concerning the National Preventive Mechanism, which provides a 
legal basis for civil society to have opportunities to inspect places of 
incarceration [under the UN convention’s optional protocol].

I think that the model the authorities are proposing for this mechanism – 
called “ombudsman plus” – where NGOs would bid on an annual or triannual basis 
to take part as the “plus”, makes NGOs directly dependent on the state. That 
undermines independence, the most important principle of the National 
Preventive Mechanism.

At the same time, I am gratified by the readiness of state agencies to engage 
in discussion and dialogue. It’s too early to say whether major reforms will be 
carried out, and if they are, to what extent. But there’s already an agreement 
with the government of Kazakstan that even if I’m not working as Special 
Rapporteur on Torture, I will be invited to special meetings on the subject. So 
next time I come to Kazakstan, you must ask me the same question again. I 
believe I will be able to give you an answer at that point.

Yulia Kuznetsova is a freelance journalist in Kazakstan.

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central 
Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the 
European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and 
Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no 
way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign 
Ministry of Norway.


Kazak authorities applying own rules on asylum-seekers in the face of accepted 
international standards.

By Andrei Grishin

A group of refugees from Uzbekistan is in imminent danger of being sent back 
home because of new legislation and practices in Kazakstan which appear to be 
taking precedence over the international standards on the treatment of refugees 
to which the country has signed up. 

Human rights activists fear that if the asylum-seekers are sent back to 
Tashkent, they will face imprisonment and torture.

The 29 Uzbek nationals who were seeking asylum in Kazakstan were among a larger 
group of 45 individuals detained in June during a raid by law enforcement 
forces targeting illegal migrants.

Fifteen were subsequently released but 30 remained in custody because the 
authorities in Uzbekistan had filed extradition requests against them.

The Uzbek authorities accuse them of a range of offences including terrorism, 
religious extremism, and membership of banned Islamic groups, charges which the 
detainees deny.

Seventeen of them had obtained certificates from the UN refugee agency UNHCR 
stating that they were seeking asylum.

However, since new national legislation came into force in Kazakstan in 
January, all asylum claims, whether made to the government or UNHCR, are being 
referred to a special commission which decides whether to grant refugee status.

The commission reviewed the 30 cases in August, and turned all of them down. 
All but one of the asylum-seekers then lodged appeals against the rulings in 

The exception was Khurshid Komilov, an ethnic Uzbek who unlike the rest is a 
national of Kyrgyzstan rather than Uzbekistan. He had not filed an asylum claim 
with the Kazak authorities, and in August UNHCR revoked his refugee status it 
had granted him earlier.

This meant Komilov’s lawyers were unable to lodge an appeal, and the 
extradition request was acted on. Komilov was extradited to Uzbekistan on 
September 8.

The Kazak prosecutor general’s office refused to comment on why he was sent to 
Uzbekistan rather than his own country.(For more on this specific case, see 
Questions Over Kyrgyz National’s Extradition to Uzbekistan.)

Gulsara Altynbekova, head of the Almaty branch of the labour and welfare 
ministry’s Migration Committee, told IWPR why the commission turned down the 
asylum claims, saying, “We cannot recognise as a refugee any person who has 
been or is taking part in religious extremist terrorist organisations in his 
country of origin or from where he arrived.”

Altynbekova said one of the applicants had “admitted being in a mercenary camp 
and undergoing special training there”, but did not say what relevance this had 
to the other cases that were refused.

Once the appeals have been heard, the 29 are likely to face extradition to 

According to Denis Jivaga, a lawyer with the Kazakstan Bureau for Human Rights 
and Rule of Law, there is little chance the courts will overturn the 
commission’s decision.

Although it is now using its own national legislation to rule on refugee cases, 
Kazakstan is a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which 
places it under an obligation and thus remains obliged not to deport or 
extradite an individual to a country “where there are substantial grounds for 
believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture”.

There is strong evidence that torture is used against detainees in Uzbekistan, 
cited in reports by the United Nations Committee against Torture and in reports 
which Uzbek activists submitted to the UN in March.

UNHCR’s communications officer in Geneva, Babar Baloch, told IWPR that 
protections against extradition remained in force despite the change in the way 
Kazakstan was dealing with refugee applications.

"Under its new refugee law, Kazakstan has taken on since January 2010 
responsibility for refugee status determination. Persons, under international 
human rights law – whether recognised as refugees or not – are entitled to 
protection against extradition in certain circumstances," he said.

Human rights defenders in Kazakstan and abroad argue that the refugee law is 
unclear in some areas, and that the commission’s reliance on evidence supplied 
by the Uzbek authorities raises serious questions about its rulings.

In line with the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Kazak 
law prohibits extradition or deportation of individuals if their lives would be 
at risk or they would face persecution for their religious beliefs or political 
views. But it also says elsewhere that claims will be turned down if 
asylum-seekers are accused of membership of a “banned organisation”, without 
specifying whether the group must be prohibited in Kazakstan as well as the 
other state.

Katherine Booth, who heads the migrants’ rights desk at the International 
Federation of Human Rights, says refusing refugee status on grounds of 
membership of a religious organisation banned in the individual’s home country 
runs contrary to the refugee convention.

“Their association with a [banned] religious group may have been fabricated or 
may be unproven, and this constitutes persecution on religious grounds,” Booth 

The Kazak refugee commission appears to be basing its rulings in large part on 
evidence provided by Uzbekistan, the same state that is seeking extradition. 
This is a major departure from UNHCR practice, which is to seek information 
about a case from a range of sources.

An Almaty-based prosecutor who works with the Kazak migration police, said 
government institutions were obliged to collaborate with their counterparts in 
other states, but she recognised that this placed certain constraints on them.

“We have neither the right nor the opportunity to check whether an accusation 
that an individual has committed a criminal offence is justified,” she told 
IWPR. “We are obliged to accept it at face value.”

Jivaga says he does not blame the Kazak refugee commission, as it is merely 
doing what it is required to do by the current law. Instead, he says 
unsatisfactory legislation is compounded by a lack of political will in the 
Kazak government to honour its international obligations.

Although the law was intended to bring Kazakstan into full compliance with the 
refugee convention of which it is a signatory, there are fears it is having the 
reverse effect, so that Kazakstan is now giving precedence to bilateral and 
regional extradition arrangements over its continuing international commitments.

“It’s clear that for our state, regional agreements are more important than any 
international one,” Jivaga told IWPR.

Andrei Grishin is a staff member at the Kazakstan Bureau for Human Rights and 
Rule of Law.

This article was produced jointly under two IWPR projects: Building Central 
Asian Human Rights Protection & Education Through the Media, funded by the 
European Commission; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and 
Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no 
way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Foreign 
Ministry of Norway.

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA provides the international community with a unique 
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