• KGS/USD = 0.01118 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09131 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%
  • KGS/USD = 0.01118 0%
  • KZT/USD = 0.00222 0%
  • TJS/USD = 0.09131 0%
  • UZS/USD = 0.00008 0%

Viewing results 1 - 6 of 19

Children in the Fields, Not at Their Desks: Turkmenistan Continues to Use Child Labor in Cotton Harvest

Turkmenistan continues to use forced labor of adults and children during the cotton harvest, according to experts from the Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO). "The preliminary findings of this observation mission indicate direct or indirect evidence of mobilization of public servants in all regions visited, with the exception of the city of Ashgabat," the report by the committee states. Another report by independent Turkmen human rights groups published last year documented widespread systematic forced labor in Turkmenistan - alongside widespread corruption. Under its ILO commitments, Turkmenistan has pledged for years to eradicate this practice, but the reality is different. The Business and Human Rights Resource Center notes that the Turkmen Government obliges farmers to submit a certain quota of cotton each year. Failure to meet these quotas can result in the land being taken away from the dekhkans (smallholder farmers) and given to others, or the issuance of a fine. At the same time, the government maintains a monopoly on the purchase and sale of cotton, sets an artificially low purchase price, and does not disclose information about either the income from cotton or the use of that income. Employees of government organizations are systematically forced to harvest cotton. They are not provided with proper working or living conditions, and are often forced to find housing and food at their own expense. In addition, they face such problems as unfavorable weather conditions - cotton harvesting starts in the summer heat and continues well into winter's sub-zero temperatures - contact with chemicals used to treat the fields, and travel costs. Despite this, human rights advocates haven't received any complaints about the authorities' misconduct. This is likely due to the fact that workers are afraid of losing their jobs in the public sector, where the majority of Turkmenistan's population is employed. Despite local laws prohibiting the use of child labor - and a ban on the use of child labor in the cotton sector has been in place since 2008 - the practice is widespread during the cotton harvest. The Cotton Campaign, an international coalition of labor groups, human rights organizations, investors and business organizations, has repeatedly spoken out against this practice. Schoolchildren in Turkmenistan often go to the cotton fields themselves to earn money for clothing and food, as well as to help their parents, who are obliged to pick cotton. Turkmenistan is the tenth largest cotton producer in the world and has a vertically integrated cotton industry. Despite the boycott of cotton picked using forced labor, the U.S., Canada and EU countries cannot always control the supply chain of cotton from third countries. Thus, Turkmen cotton harvested by forced and child labor filters into global cotton supply chains at all stages of production. The Cotton Campaign has called on governments, companies and workers' organizations to take action and pressure Turkmenistan to end forced labor and protect the basic rights of its citizens. Uzbekistan is a successful case study in the effort to eliminate...

Kazakhstan to Report to UN on Events of January 2022 Unrest

Kazakhstan will report to the United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture on measures taken after the events of bloody January (Qantar) 2022. This is according to the Deputy Chairwoman of the International Bureau for Human Rights, Roza Akylbekova, who added that information on urgent recommendations, which primarily concern Qantar, should be provided no later than May 12th, 2024 "This is information about what happened, how many people were affected, and, of course, about deaths in closed institutions and how Kazakhstan is investigating them," Akylbekova said at a news conference at the office of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. In addition, according to the human rights activist, the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan will have to prepare information on the deaths of conscripts. It has been 25 years since Kazakhstan joined the UN Convention against Torture, since which time the Coalition of NGOs of Kazakhstan against Torture and the National Preventive Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture have been established created. Furthermore, Kazakhstan added an article on torture to the criminal code and opened up a path for individual appeals regarding torture directly to the UN Committee. At the same time, however, torture remains a pressing problem in the country. According to the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, 200-250 people apply to the Coalition of NGOs against Torture every year. In 2022, 190 appeals were received in connection with the January events, and another 88 episodes that had no connection to the mass riots of that year. Since Qantar, the number of complaints has not fallen, with 283 appeals in 2023, during which year over 20 systemic recommendations were issued to Kazakhstan. Earlier this year, the European Union (EU) funded a three-year project by Kazakhstani human rights defenders that aims to eradicate torture. As part of this project, the Kazakhstan NGO Coalition against Torture and the Prison Reform International (PRI) office will analyze individual cases of criminal prosecution for torture which do not reach trial. However, these cases are difficult to identify and prosecute. "In Kazakhstan such crime as torture is adjacent to other articles of the Criminal Code: in addition to 'torture,' the concepts of 'ill-treatment' and 'abuse of power' are used. Therefore, the official statistics on those prosecuted for 'torture' (Article 146) do not give an understanding of how many cases are actually hidden behind the lighter articles. At the same time, Article 146 itself has been divided into two parts: 'torture,' which will be investigated by the prosecutor's office, and 'cruel and inhuman treatment,' which is left to the Interior Ministry, whose employees are most often the beneficiaries of torture," the press service of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law reported. The UN Committee against Torture was established in January 1987. It consists of 10 independent experts, who currently represent the United States, Turkey, China, Japan, Russia, France, Morocco, Moldova, Latvia, and Mexico. They monitor the implementation of the Convention...

Kyrgyz Authorities Confiscate $35 Million of Oligarch Matraimov’s Assets – Plan to Nationalize Another $50 million of Property

Kyrgyzstan's State Committee of National Security (GKNB) has stated that following an investigation aimed at returning embezzled property into state ownership as part of a criminal case against former deputy chairman of the Customs Service, Raimbek Matraimov, the government has seized real estate worth $34,810,000. At the end of January 2024, the authorities placed the infamous oligarch Matraimov, who has bounced in and out of custody since 2020, on a wanted list. Matraimov, who is popularly known as "Raimbek-million" for his multi-million dollar fortune has already pleaded guilty to embezzlement, and is now charged under the article "illegal deprivation of liberty" on suspicion of abducting and illegally incarcerating unnamed individuals. The former deputy head of the Customs Service previously had extensive connections in the Kyrgyz parliament and government, and went unpunished for years. In 2021, the U.S. authorities banned Matraimov and his family members from entering the country. Head of the GKNB, Kamchibek Tashiev, accused Matraimov of creating a mafia clan. "Raimbek Matraimov has been put on a wanted list. All of his property... throughout Kyrgyzstan will go into the ownership of the state. We will not leave even a [plot] of land. He will no longer be Raimbek-million as he used to be. There will be no such thing as a clan. To destroy this clan, in the Osh region [alone] we fired about fifty people from state bodies," Tashiev stated. In 2019, the State Service for Combating Economic Crimes launched an investigation into corruption in the Kyrgyz Customs bodies. Earlier, documents had found their way into the hands of journalists showing that Matraimov had withdrawn about $700 million from the country through various banks over a period of seven years. However, investigators didn't find Matraimov's property abroad. In 2021, Matraimov was found guilty of corruption and convicted, but after paying a $22.5 million fine to the state, he was released. Law enforcement has since uncovered more of the oligarch's assets worth another $50 million. The GKNB is continuing to search for more assets obtained by criminal means in order to later transfer them to the state, according to the agency's press service. Matraimov's whereabouts are currently unknown.

Kazakhstan Claws Back Another $98.5 Million From Nazarbayev’s Nephew

A well-known Kazakhstani businessman and a relative of former President Nazarbayev has returned another $98.5 million to the state's coffers. This money was returned as part of the criminal case against Kairat Satybaldy, according to the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan. "At present, the funds have been sent to the republican budget on account of compensation for damage caused to the state," said the head of the agency, Askhat Zhumagali. Satybaldy - a nephew of the first president of Kazakhstan - is a well-known businessman and former politician. He held positions in the Akimat of the capital, the National Security Committee, and developed business in the oil and gas industry, banking, the services sector, and trade. Satybaldy was detained in March 2022, accused of abuse of power and embezzlement on a large scale at both JSC Kazakhtelecom and JSC Center of Transport Services. In September of that year, an Astana court found Satybaldy guilty and sentenced him to six years imprisonment, replete with the confiscation of property and deprivation of the right to hold office for ten years. In addition, he was relieved of the title of Major General of the National Security Committee (KNB) and other state awards. In total, since the beginning of 2022, the Anti-Corruption Agency has returned $2 billion of illegally withdrawn assets, of which almost $1.5 billion belonged to Satybaldy. These include a stake in state company, Kazakhtelecom, companies in the railroad and telecommunications sectors, as well as jewelry worth more than $200 million. Additionally, as part of the criminal case, the state repossessed a stake in the Baisat Market, which had belonged to Satybaldy's son. The Agency noted that other investigations into Nazarbayev's nephew on cases related to non-payment of taxes and the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities are ongoing. At the same time, in order to preclude the withdrawal of embezzled budget funds abroad, the anti-corruption service intends to introduce digital technologies, including mechanisms for "coloring" money, and the use of digital tender to fully track how state funds are spent. "Long-term construction projects [and] untimely and low-quality construction are often associated with either embezzlement or withdrawal of money for further kickbacks to officials and other offenses,"Zhumagali stated. "Digital tenge as a tool will help us realize the [plan for] 'coloring' money. And if this money is allocated for salaries, it will not go in other directions. This whole procedure of money movement allocated from the budget becomes transparent, and all transactions must reach their goal; each tenge must be spent for a specifically envisaged purpose." In Kazakhstan, corruption continues to be one of the main factors hindering the country's economic development. In 2023, the country ranked 93rd out of 180 states on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index with a raw score of 39 out of 100. However, this saw an improvement on the ranking of 101st registered on the 2022 index, and following the resignation of the government, on February 7th President Tokayev targeted stamping out corruption as a...

Domestic Violence Victims Can Now Obtain EU Refugee Status After Ruling

Women who have suffered from domestic violence have the right to seek asylum in European Union (EU) countries, according to an EU Court of Justice ruling on January 16th. Anyone who has been subjected to physical and psychological violence, including sexual or domestic violence, can apply. If the those who apply do not meet the conditions for refugee status, they can claim additional measures of protection. Refugee status may already be granted to third-country nationals who are persecuted on racial, religious, or national grounds, as well as on the basis of political convictions or membership of a particular social group. According to the judges, threats from relatives "because of an alleged violation of cultural, religious or traditional norms" may qualify. Consequently, genital mutilation or forced marriage are often reasons for absconding, which women will have to disclose to authorities at the first interview. The EU came to this decision after the story of a Turkish national, a girl of Kurdish origin was forcibly married by her family. In the marriage, she was beaten and threatened by her husband, but managed to escape. The woman, who feared that her life would be in danger if she returned to Turkey, sought help and asked for international protection in Bulgaria. The local justices then referred the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. Karl Kopp, a migration expert for Pro Asyl - an independent human rights organization that advocates for the rights of refugees in Europe and Germany - said that the outcome is positive, and more women will be able to receive protection in the future. At present, Kazakhstan is discussing the issue of toughening punishment for domestic violence. A joint study by the Union of Crisis Centers and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation found that in 2021, the public safety authorities of Kazakhstan received almost 115,000 complaints of domestic violence. Of these, only 40% of cases made it to court, whilst 39% of perpetrators got off with sentences that restricted their freedom for periods ranging from two hours to three days.

Uzbekistan Gains Ground Against Corruption in Annual Perception Ranking

International non-governmental organization Transparency International has published its 2023 global ranking of corruption perception. For the last six years, Denmark has held first position, followed by Finland and New Zealand. It's no coincidence that these countries hold the lead in the rule of law index, what with their well-established government and societal institutions and transparent justice systems. Somalia, Venezuela, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen, which suffer from wars and/or social crises, close out the list. According to the rating, Uzbekistan held 121st place out of 180 - rising five spots on the list in just one year. Over the past decade, the republic has improved its position by 16 spots, becoming the leader in terms of the rate of improvement across the entire index. Among Uzbekistan's neighbors in Central Asia, only Kazakhstan, which ranks 93rd, is higher. In the region, Turkmenistan (170) has the worst record with corruption; Tajikistan is 162nd on the list, and Kyrgyzstan ranked 141st - tied with Russia. According to Transparency International experts, the index revealed that many countries have made little progress in the fight against corruption. Francois Valerian, chairman of Transparency International, said "corruption will continue to thrive as long as justice systems fail to punish wrongdoing and keep governments in check. When justice is bought or interfered with by political forces, people suffer. Leaders must fully invest in and guarantee the independence of institutions that uphold the law and fight corruption. It is time to end impunity for corruption." Transparency International began assessing and compiling the 180-country index in 1995. It's calculated based on perceptions of public sector corruption. The company uses data from 13 external sources, including non-governmental consulting companies and think tanks, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum and others.

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