Kyrgyzstan’s peace, prosperity best assured by respecting rights of minorities, UN expert says


Kyrgyzstan needs further measures to guarantee the human rights of minorities, strengthen its democratic institutions and ensure a more inclusive society, if it is to deliver peace and prosperity, said a UN human rights expert on minorities after visiting the country.

Special Rapporteur Fernand de Varennes welcomed Kyrgyzstan’s continued engagement with international human rights bodies and the adoption of a new human rights action plan, but urged it to put forward comprehensive human rights legislation and in particular new anti-discrimination laws.

He also highlighted the country’s significant strides towards ending statelessness, which mainly affects minorities, and especially minority women and children.

“This year, Kyrgyzstan became the first country to end statelessness to all intents and purposes,” he said, presenting a preliminary statement after his visit.

“I commend the Government’s efforts, which, in coordination with civil society, have supported community outreach campaigns to identify unregistered people, particularly from the most vulnerable communities, such as the Mugat minority.

“Nonetheless, discrimination against minorities is persistent in some areas, including with regard to minority political representation and participation in public life, access to employment in the country’s civil service, including the police and judiciary, administration of justice, and access to education, especially education in minority languages.”

The Special Rapporteur highlighted a decrease in the number of schools teaching in minority languages, especially for the Uzbek minority. He also raised concerns over state policies that provided for the exclusive use of the national Kyrgyz and the official Russian languages in the provision of public services in regions with significant minority presence.

De Varennes expressed concern at reported hostility against human rights defenders and journalists who monitor and report on the situation of minorities in the country, and the use of legal provisions on incitement to hatred and extremism to suppress and criminalise their work.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the concept of citizenship reflected a new policy document, which appears to be centred around Kyrgyz ethnicity rather than a national citizenship of all Kyrgyzstanis.

During his 12-day mission, Mr. de Varennes met high-level officials, civil society and minority communities, including members of the deaf community, in the capital Bishkek, and in Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken regions.

The Special Rapporteur will present a detailed report on his visit to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2021. (Source: OHCHR)