Kazakhstan/ Kyrgyzstan: Exploitation of migrant workers, protection denied to asylum seekers and refugees

International Federation for Human Rights, 30 October 2009

International Federation for Human Rights — The report sets out the findings of an investigative mission conducted by FIDH in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in June 2009, which documented the situation of migrant workers, asylum seekers and refugees in both countries. The mission took place within the framework of FIDH’s actions aimed at the promotion and protection of migrants’ rights in the region.

As Kazakhstan prepares to take the Chair of the OSCE in January 2010, FIDH highlights the reforms urgently required to ensure that migrant workers and refugees receive the protection to which they are entitled under international law.

The report includes a chapter entitled Uyghur asylum seekers: “virtual refugees” (p.75 ff):

As their ties with China deepen (see above, Part I-3-B), Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have adopted a strict approach to Uyghur asylum seekers. In both countries Uyghurs are simply ineligible for political asylum or refugee status, discrimination against them is widespread, and they are at risk of refoulement to China. As Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan share lengthy borders with the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China, which is homeland to the majority of Uyghurs in China, the two states are key destinations for Uyghurs seeking to exit China for economic or political reasons. By securing Kazakhstan’s and Kyrgyzstan’s cooperation, the Chinese government has extended to Central Asia its control of the movement and activities of the Uyghur minority.

The full report can be downloaded here.