TRUTH | More than 100 people released from slavery annually in Kazakhstan

More than 100 people are delivered from slavery in Kazakhstan annually. As per 24.kz channel message, this issue is presented in the analytical report of Presidential Commission on Human Rights. As it is also reported, internal affairs bodies initiated 244 criminal trafficking cases on 8- month period result.

Verdict: Truth

However, this is not all the truth about trafficking in the Republic of Kazakhstan. 244 criminal trafficking cases, —are elicited facts only. According to data provided by international organizations, figures are quite another, that have a tendency to deterioration.

According to the Global Slavery Index, Kazakhstan ranked 64 among 167 in 2016. Superficially, it is not all so bad until we see it in absolute terms: by the estimate of WALK FREE FOUNDATION, in 2016, 81,600 people were in labour and in sexual slavery in Kazakhstan.

It is not a new situation. According to analytical collection Trafficking victim identification in the Republic of Kazakhstan, published with the assistance of OSCE in 2012, approximately 50 thousands people become victims of slavery and sexual slavery annually. All over the world, the overall number of today slavery victims reaches 45,8 million people (in accordance with estimates of 2016, 25 million of them are victims of compulsory labour).

From a migrant to a slave

One of the main problem connected with compulsory labour is weak regulated labour migration system.

According to the data of International Organization for Migration, millions of people from Central Asia work abroad and provide for their families. Keserovich Deyan, coordinator of ION in Central Asia: “Every seventh person in the world is a migrant, and in Central Asia – every forth one”.

“High unemployment rate, growing number of population and low pay make people from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan migrate in labour purposes. Later on, these people face exploitation, human trafficking and violation of human rights” – according to one of statements of the organization.

According to records of the head of social foundation International Justice Initiative, Ayna Shormanbayeva, great number of labour migrants in CIS are migrants from Uzbekistan.
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan provided information that 1,381,681 foreigners were booked in police in 2015, 125,625 of them officially stated the object of coming is the search for a job (it is necessary to point out a purpose of coming in immigration card, which is issued by customs administration).

Most of migrants resident or/and work without determination of their status. In connection therewith, official figures on labour migrants, provided by official authorities, are without consideration. At the present time, approximately from 300 thousands to 1,5 million labour migrants with unregulated status work in Kazakhstan; that fact makes them exposed to compulsory labour.

In February 2016, the head of the labour inspection, Sarbasov Akmadi, announced that the number of labour migrants without regulated status is constantly growing.

Difficulties with personal identification

Foundation Sana sezim undertaking activities in South Kazakhstan region works since 2001. People who are victims of labour bondage may address this foundation. On request of Factcheck.kz, active members of the organization answered that they helped 274 people from January to September 2017.

Representatives of the International Federation on Human Rights conducted investigations on rights violation of labour migrants and members of their families from February to May 2016. With the assistance of OSCE, the federation published research results on issue Labour migrants in Kazakhstan: having no status and rights.

The investigation shows a highly interesting data: many people being in slavery do not feel like a slave. For example, a woman Shakhlo (Uzbekistan) said in an interview to ―Sana sezim‖ foundation members:

I work here [in Shymkent], almost nine months as a nurse making time with elderly woman. […] She holds my passport. It is more reliable, another way, I would be afraid, that it could be stolen or lost. It is normally, that’s quite commonly done“.

Social foundation International Justice Initiative conducted social research in 2012 and 2013 among 1500 people who were in slavery. According to Ayna Shormanbayeva, only 114 realized that they are victims of human trafficking. Other ones did not even feel it. Many people do not consider work for food and bed as a slavery; it is a means of survival for them.

International obligations and local features

Kazakhstan is internationally obliged to fight human trafficking according to Convention 55/25 against transnational organized crime, adopted by UN dated November 15, 2000, and in accordance with a protocol to this convention on human trafficking, particularly on prevention of women and children trafficking.

Kazakhstan validated the main document in the sphere of human rights – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Republic of Kazakhstan signed a set of other international documents against human trafficking. Nevertheless, the last report of USA State Department announced that legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan in part of fighting with human trafficking does not fully conform to world standards. Particularly, attention is paid to the norm that allows “settlement between the parties”. In the report of 2016, Kazakhstan is also classified as a “country of destination” for human trafficking:

Kazakhstan is a country of destination and in a less degree is a country of origin and transit of men, women and children being sexually exploited and exposed to compulsory labour. Inner human trafficking is a constant problem, representing a majority of victims identified.

The report states that Kazakhstani women are sexually exploited in the Middle East, Europe and USA. Women from Central Asia and East Europe and from rural areas of Kazakhstan are sexually exploited in our country.

At the same time, the report points out a positive shift in legislation modification and raise of the number of case investigations in part of compulsory labour and sexual slavery. As it was announced by the Commission on Human Rights (see the beginning of article), 244 criminal cases is a number twice as much as in 2014.

Besides, Minister of labour and social protection, Duisenova Tamara, answered Factcheck.kz journalist that Ministry of labour and social protection approved the ―Standard for the rendering of social services to victims of human trafficking‖. In 2016, “pilot testing was conducted” in four regions of the country (Kostanay, South Kazakhstan region, Almaty and Astana).

Since 2017, Standard for the rendering of social services to victims of human trafficking is realized in every region, and in Almaty and Astana. Under this standard, victims of human trafficking are provided with common assistance, medical services, psychological counselling, economical and legal support.

Павел Банников
Журналист, редактор. Филолог-славист. Соавтор и составитель ряда работ по журналистике и языку вражды. Работал журналистом и редактором в различных научно-популярных, развлекательных и общественно-политических изданиях Казахстана. Главный редактор проекта «Фактчек в Казахстане». Медиатренер, создатель образовательного проекта Factcheck.Academy