Protecting Tajik migrants’ rights: positive aspects of new migration policy require implementation

Press release
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Two years after the release of a report calling for increased protection of the rights of Tajik migrant workers, in June 2013 FIDH and ADC Memorial returned to Tajikistan to investigate institutional and legal changes and new challenges faced by Tajikmigrant workers and their families. Particular attention was paid to gendered aspects of migration, the situation of women migrants and of the spouses of migrant workers.

Today, FIDH publishes the mission’s preliminary findings and recommendations.

Since 2011 there have been positive developments: migration remains prominent on the government agenda, the Migration Service has started its work, NGOs are involved in discussions on related draft laws. Yet, during a mission to Tajikistan in June 2013, organized in collaboration with the Tajik Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law and the Tajik Human Rights Centre, FIDH and ADC Memorial observed that measures taken thus far have not led to significant changes in the situation of migrant workers and fall short of what is needed to ensure effective protection.

Tajik migrant workers in Russia remain vulnerable to illegal practices by employers and intermediaries: confiscation of passports, retention of salaries, police raids, arbitrary controls and xenophobic attacks. The FIDH/ADC Memorial investigation revealed cases indicating that such violations are not adequately dealt with by the Migration Service or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to official statistics, women migrants represent 14% of labour migrants (124 007 out of 877 335 in 2012) and migration of families or couples is thought to be on the rise. FIDH and ADC Memorial also investigated the situation of women whose husbands leave to work abroad. Although the receipt of migrant remittances undoubtedly leads to an improvement in living standards, this system is fraught with serious social problems, health issues and leads to an increased burden on women. Increasing numbers of cases of men migrants staying in Russia, leaving wives and child behind without any support, have been documented.

The impact of positive institutional and policy reforms has been impaired by insufficient budget allocation. Although draft laws on Labour Migration and on Private Employment Agencies have been under discussion since 2010 in working groups, they still have not been presented to the Parliament. Neither draft is available on official web sites and no public discussion or parliamentary hearings are planned. The draft versions that were shared with the FIDH/ ADC Memorial delegation in June 2013 contain elements of concern, including the tendency to place responsibility for social protection and care of elders on labour migrants themselves, rather than the state (articles 14 and 18 of the draft law on Labour Migration).

Based on these preliminary findings, our organisations make the following recommendations:

To the government of Tajikistan:

  • Ensure that the process of drafting legislation is open and transparent;
  • Ensure that the provisions of the laws on Labour Migration and on Private Employment Agencies are in complete conformity with the provisions of international human rights conventions ratified by Tajikistan and in particular with the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;
  • Ensure that people of Tajikistan are able to exert control on those in charge of the elaboration and implementation of migration policy at different levels, in particular through pluralist and transparent elections;
  • Ensure the effective investigation, prosecution and punishment of employers, intermediaries and human traffickers responsible for violations of the rights of migrants.

To the governments of Tajikistan and Russia:

  • Refrain from any negotiation or agreement linking the issue of labour migration to other political, defence or security issues;
  • Ensure that no collective expulsions take place;
  • Enhance cooperation to make available to those concerned, the list of Tajik citizens who have been forbidden to enter Russia, following expulsion or deportation;
  • Ensure that this information is given on a confidential basis and that the protection of personal data is guaranteed.

Download the preliminary findings of the June 2013 mission on the rights of Tajik migrant workers.

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