National Consultations on Forced Labour in Kyrgyzstan

The issues of ensuring decent work in Kyrgyzstan free of coercion and exploitation were at the heart of the conference “World of Work in Kyrgyzstan: National Consultations on Forced Labour. Challenges and Prevention Measures”, held on May 18 in Bishkek.

News | 18 May 2018
BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN (ILO News) - The event took place as part of discussion of the country’s commitment to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the Future of Work Initiative launched to commemorate the centenary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the role of trade unions in achieving the SDGs.

The national consultations, organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan, were supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The consultations involved the Minister of Labour and Social Development, the National Alliance of Business Associations, the Association of Young Entrepreneurs, the Ombudsman, representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Migration Service, employers’, non-profit and international organizations.

The conference was devoted to discussing the situation in Kyrgyzstan with regard to the exercise of a major right at work – freedom from forced labour – and developing effective recommendations and policies to prevent forced labour and achieve the respective SDGs.

According to Taalaigul Isakunova, Minister of Labour and Social Development, “the issues of work arrangements and decent work require today a greater focus”. “Unfortunately, these were not addressed over 25 years of independence. Good laws were adopted but not effectively implemented. While the government had to deal with lots of other issues, the informal economy grew to account for up to 72 percent of workforce. Hence the importance of venues such as this, and cooperation and partnership with the Federation of Trade Unions”, the Minister said.

Ozonnia Ojielo, UN Resident Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan

“The today’s conference is a demonstration that all tripartite constituents – Government, Federation of Trade Unions and employers organizations, as well as representatives of the non-profit sector and development partners – are willing to put an end to the horrible phenomena such as forced labour and child labour”, said Bolot Orokov, ILO National Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan.

Kubat Otorbaev, Kyrgyzstan’s Ombudsman, pointed out the need to observe the rights of vulnerable workers, especially migrant workers, women and children, as they are exposed to the risk of forced labour more than anyone else. Violations happen despite that decent work is a basic human right and that child labour is forbidden both at the international and national level.
The participants discussed the international labour standards on forced labour including the provisions of the ILO Protocol 2014 to the ILO Forced Labour Convention No. 29. They analyzed the current situation regarding exploitation of labour both in the territory of Kyrgyzstan and beyond and its linkages with human trafficking; strategies, action and policies by trade unions to protect social and labour rights of migrants in the CIS; recommendations to improve the mechanisms and institutions preventing dissemination of forced labour.

The conference also focused on the efficiency of work arrangements and decent work as applied to GSP+ status assigned to Kyrgyzstan by the European Union. Under the GSP+ scheme, the country has to perform in full its obligations under 27 international conventions, which include instruments requiring the elimination of forced labour.

In concluding the consultations, participants supported the decision made earlier by the Parliamentary Committee on Social Affairs to undertake a review of labour law regulations of Kyrgyzstan, develop draft laws to bring the national legislation in line with international labour standards, propose the criteria to identify forced labour, and discuss the need to ratify the ILO Protocol 2014 to ILO Forced Labour Convention No.29.