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TITLE:  KYRGYZ HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                        
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                   KYRGYZ REPUBLIC


A former republic of the Soviet Union, the Kyrgyz Republic 
(Kyrgyzstan), became an independent nation on August 31, 1991.  
The Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) by unanimous vote adopted a new 
Constitution on May 5, 1993, defining Kyrgyzstan as a unitary 
democratic republic founded on secular principles and providing 
substantial guarantees of the civil rights of its citizens.  
The Constitution provides for a government with three branches 
(legislative, executive, and judicial) presided over by a 
President who is the Head of State.  Governmental institutions 
are in a transitional state as several constitutional 
provisions have not gone into effect, pending legislative 
elections scheduled for 1995 and presidential elections for 
1996.  In addition, Kyrgyzstan's legal and judicial systems 
remain essentially unchanged from the Soviet period, although 
at the end of 1993 the Government began a process of legal and 
judicial reform.  

Although the Constitution changed the name of the legislature 
from Supreme Soviet to Jogorku Kenesh, members elected during 
the Soviet period continued to dominate this 350-member body.  
A reformer, Askar Akayev, was originally chosen as president by 
the Supreme Soviet of Kyrgyzstan in 1990.  In October 1991, he 
was popularly reelected in a referendum-style election; he ran 
unopposed.

The Committee on National Security (KNB) has inherited much of 
its personnel and infrastructure from the old Soviet Committee 
for State Security, or KGB.  The KNB chairman is a member of 
the Cabinet.  Unlike during the Soviet era, the KNB's actions 
must conform to Kyrgyzstan's laws.  The KNB appears to be under 
the full control of the Government.

The predominantly agricultural economy is highly dependent on 
trade with the rest of the former Soviet Union.  The Government 
remains firmly committed to the development of a market 
economy, with favorable laws on privatization, joint ventures, 
and foreign trade and investment.  With International Monetary 
Fund support, the Government introduced a new currency, the 
som, in May in order to stabilize the economy, avoid the 
inflation of the ruble, and attract foreign investment.  Since 
then, the currency has proved fairly stable, and monthly 
inflation slowed from 40 percent to 10 percent.  Foreign 
investment reached $400 million by midyear.  However, 
industrial production continued to fall, and unemployment grew.


The Government continued to express strong support for human 
rights, including freedom of the press, democracy, and the rule 
of law, and in general respected them in practice.  However, 
concerns continued to be raised about government policy toward 
non-Kyrgyz ethnic minorities.  In 1993 increasing domination by 
ethnic Kyrgyz of government, education, and other institutions 
and a language policy that favored official use of the Kyrgyz 
language created insecurity among members of ethnic minorities, 
primarily Russian speakers, and caused their members to 
emigrate in large numbers.  In addition, Kyrgyzstan's legal and 
judicial systems remain essentially unchanged from the Soviet 
period.  

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Extrajudicial Killing

No reports of such killings by government authorities or others 
are known to have occurred.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no incidents of disappearance or abduction 
attributable to government authorities or others.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or 
punishment is not known to have occurred.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

For the most part, Kyrgyzstan's legal system continues to 
operate under the laws and procedures that prevailed during the 
Soviet period.  The procurator determines who may be detained, 
arrested, and prosecuted and must approve all warrants.  The 
Ministry of the Interior, the Committee on National Security, 
and the General Procurator's office carry out investigations.  
A person arrested or charged with a crime has the immediate 
right to defense counsel.  However, in practice the accused 
often has access to defense counsel only after the case comes 
to trial.


The Criminal Code permits the procurator to detain a suspect 
for up to 72 hours before releasing him or informing him of the 
crime he is suspected of having committed.  The accused remains 
in detention while the procurator investigates the case and 
prepares to present it to the court.  Under Kyrgyz law, family 
members and lawyers involved in the case have access to the 
detainee.  At the procurator's discretion, the accused may be 
kept in pretrial detention for up to 1 year.  After the year 
has elapsed, the procurator must release the accused or ask the 
legislature to extend the period of detention.  Since 
independence, there have been no known instances in which the 
legislature voted for such an extension.  There is provision 
for bail, except for detainees under investigation for serious 
or violent crimes.  

According to official government accounts, approximately 1-2 
percent of the prison population are pretrial detainees.  
However, nongovernmental sources believe that a more accurate 
number is 10-15 percent.  In addition, these same sources claim 
that it is common practice for the police to hold people for a 
short period while making initial inquiries into the case 
before either officially charging the suspects or releasing 
them.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The court system remains largely unreformed from the Soviet 
period.  Once the procurator is ready, he brings the case of 
the accused to court and tries it before a judge and two 
people's assessors (pensioners or citizens chosen from labor 
collectives).  The accused and defense counsel have the right 
of access to all evidence gathered by the procurator.  They 
attend all proceedings, which are generally public, and are 
allowed to question witnesses and present evidence.  The court 
may render one of three decisions:  innocent, guilty, or 
indeterminate (i.e., the case is returned to the procurator for 
further investigation).  Both the defendant and the procurator 
may appeal the verdict to the next higher court or to the 
procurator's office.  However, the decision of a court to 
return a case to the procurator for further investigation may 
not be appealed, and the court returns the accused to the 
procurator's custody where he or she may remain under 
detention.  

The Government has recognized the need to reform the legal and 
judicial systems it inherited from the Soviet period.  The 
reform of the judicial system is still evolving.  The 
Constitution establishes the judiciary as a separate branch of 
the Government.  During the interim period, however, the courts 
remain under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice.  The 
General Procurator's office has introduced the principle of the 
presumption of innocence of the accused.  However, a 
deteriorating economy and a system staffed largely by officials 
trained during the Soviet period continued to impede reforms.  

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The new Constitution prohibits unlawful entry into a home and 
states that a person's private life, privacy of correspondence, 
and telephonic and telegraphic communications are protected by 
law.  Current law and procedures require that the police, the 
KNB, and the Procurator's Investigation Bureau obtain the 
General Procurator's approval for wiretaps, searches of homes, 
interception of mail, and similar procedures.

Those personnel and organizations responsible for violations of 
the right to privacy during the Soviet period have remained 
largely in place; however, no widespread and systematic 
violations were reported in 1993.  Some citizens active in 
politics or interested in human rights believe that the privacy 
of their communications was violated in 1993.  Credible 
evidence to this effect is not available.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.   Freedom of Speech and Press

The Supreme Soviet in 1992 passed a law on the press and mass 
media which establishes freedom of the press but also provides 
guidelines proscribing publication of certain information.  The 
law supports the right of journalists to work, obtain 
information, and publish without prior restraint.  It also 
guarantees a journalist's right to protect his or her sources.  
The law prohibits publication of material that advocates war, 
violence, or intolerance toward ethnic or religious groups.  
The law prohibits material advocating the overthrow of the 
constitutional order.  Desecration of national symbols like the 
national seal, anthem, or flag is prohibited.  Publication of 
pornography is prohibited, as is propagation of false 
information.  

The law states that the press should not violate the privacy or 
dignity of individuals.  President Akayev opposed a law that 
would have prohibited insulting the dignity of the President, 
and the Supreme Soviet did not pass it.  The law requires all 
media to register with the Ministry of Justice and to await the 
Ministry's approval before beginning to operate.  Since the law 
was passed, there have been no reports that the Ministry 
refused to register a publication or used the law in any 
prosecutions.

During 1993 the press was free to publish material without 
prior government approval or restraint and was frequently 
critical of the President and the Government.  In August the 
Ministry of Justice attempted to initiate a process whereby 
press material would have to be screened for classified 
information prior to its publication.  The press harshly 
criticized these efforts as a return to censorship.  The Vice 
President, acting in the President's absence, quickly issued a 
government decree reversing the initial steps taken by the 
Ministry of Justice and reaffirming the freedom of the press.  
Similarly, no prior restriction or censorship existed for the 
electronic media or cinemas.  

However, the Government owns all but one of the radio and 
television facilities, and Kyrgyz television remained tightly 
controlled.  While a few fully independent newspapers and 
magazines existed, the Government continued to exert varying 
degrees of influence over most other publications.  Independent 
publishers said they were disadvantaged because they paid 
higher prices for materials and did not have some of the 
resources available to the government-owned media, such as 
office space.  Government involvement in and ownership of much 
of the media raised concerns among journalists about pressure 
to self-censor.  It is likely that in some cases writers for 
government-supported newspapers engage in self-censorship.

In September a government press service statement accused a 
local ethnic Russian journalist working for the Russian 
television network Ostankino of negative reporting about 
Kyrgyzstan and concluded that it was unacceptable that "a 
foreign journalist insult the dignity of the people of the 
country of his temporary habitation."  The journalist, however, 
was born in the capital, Bishkek, has lived in Kyrgyzstan for 
the past 30 years, and is a Kyrgyz citizen.  He appeared before 
the procurator on September 15 but was not charged.  The local 
Russian-language press sharply criticized the Government 
statement for attempting to portray the journalist as a 
foreigner.  In addition, the press pointed out that it was the 
journalist's highlighting of the negative side of life in 
Kyrgyzstan that government officials resented and tried to 
suppress.  President Akayev made a public defense of the 
journalist and criticized those officials for their handling of 
the case.  The government press service defended its position 
but also assured the media that the criticism of the journalist 
had no implications for the media as a whole.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Under the new Constitution, citizens have the right to assemble 
and associate freely, and they did so in 1993 without 
government interference.  Permits were required for public 
marches and gatherings, but there were no reports that they 
were denied arbitrarily.

The 1991 law requires all public organizations, including labor 
unions, political parties, and cultural associations, to 
register with the Ministry of Justice.  In attempting to 
register, some organizations have encountered bureaucratic 
obstacles of the kind prevalent during the Soviet period, but 
ultimately all organizations have been able to register.  
However, charges that interpretation of the law on public 
organizations was not evenhanded were credible.  An 
organization of Cossacks applied three times before it was 
registered as a cultural and economic organization.  According 
to the Cossacks, the Kyrgyz bureaucracy resisted registering 
them on the grounds that they had no historical ties or 
connections to Kyrgyzstan.  The Cossacks also claim that they 
are still periodically called into the Ministry of Justice to 
defend their status as a legitimate social organization.  The 
Ministry of Justice, on the other hand, claims that the initial 
version of the Cossack's charter contained a number of clauses 
referring to it as a paramilitary institution.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There are no governmental impediments to the practice and 
revival of all faiths in Kyrgyzstan.  Missionaries and 
evangelists are not restricted.  All have access to facilities 
and are free to proselytize.  For the first time, a Roman 
Catholic church opened in Bishkek.  Members of the Jewish 
community have complete freedom to teach Hebrew and practice 
their faith.  Construction of mosques has accelerated.

The President and his ministers profess commitment to a secular 
government, with no official ties to any religion.  However, 
the preamble of the draft constitution which the President 
supported referred to Kyrgyzstan's commitment to the "moral 
principles, national traditions, and spiritual values of 
Islam."  Government spokesmen explained that this phrase was 
intended only to awaken moral and spiritual values long 
suppressed under Soviet rule.  Nevertheless, this language 
raised concerns among members of other faiths and among those 
committed to a complete separation of religion from the State.  
At the end of 1992, the Supreme Soviet voted to include a 
modified reference to "Islam and other religions" in the 
preamble and adopted the new Constitution in 1993 with this 
change.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Government stated its support for freedom of travel within 
and outside Kyrgyzstan.  However, certain policies imposed 
during the Soviet period continue to restrict internal 
migration and resettlement and impede citizens' ability to 
travel abroad.  

The Parliament passed a law in 1993 on citizenship removing 
registration requirements for residence.  However, in practice 
citizens of Kyrgyzstan need official government permission 
("propiska" or residence permit) to work and settle in 
Bishkek.  Continued use of this law restricts freedom of 
internal movement.  Home and apartment owners are legally 
restricted to selling their property to buyers with such 
permission.  In addition, members of minority nationalities 
accused the Government of partiality toward ethnic Kyrgyz while 
continuing to restrict the internal movement of those belonging 
to other ethnic groups.  They cite the case of ethnic Kyrgyz 
squatters who continue to live in Bishkek without official 
permission and received government help to construct housing.

Kyrgyzstan does not have a law on emigration.  The 
administrative procedures used in 1993 permitted freedom of 
emigration without any evidence of discrimination.  Citizens 
who apply for international passports must present a letter of 
invitation from the country they intend to visit or to which 
they intend to emigrate.  Instituted during the Soviet period, 
this policy impedes free and unrestricted foreign travel.  
There were no reports, however, that citizens, after presenting 
such a letter, were denied a passport or an exit visa.  
Emigrants reportedly were not prevented from returning to 
Kyrgyzstan.


Kyrgyzstan has drafted an agreement with Russia to ease 
emigration for the members of the Russian-speaking minority.  
The draft presumes that resettlement is voluntary and provides 
for the establishment of migration services in Kyrgyzstan and 
Russia in order to facilitate a more orderly transition for the 
migrants.  The agreement is expected to be signed in the first 
half of 1994.  In 1993 approximately 24,000 people immigrated 
to Kyrgyzstan, and 135,000 emigrated from it.  

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The ability of citizens to effect a peaceful, democratic change 
of government remains untested.  Most of the 350 members of 
Parliament were elected in 1990 when the first multiple-
candidate elections were held.  However, the Communist Party, 
with its monopoly on power still intact, manipulated the 
elections to ensure the victory of candidates it favored.  New 
elections for the Parliament are scheduled for 1995.  Askar 
Akayev was elected President by the Supreme Soviet in 1990 and, 
running unopposed, was reelected by popular ballot in 1991.  As 
President, he may issue decrees that are binding unless 
abrogated by a vote of at least two-thirds of Parliament.  New 
presidential elections are scheduled for 1996.

In 1993 women occupied several high-level government positions, 
including those of Chairman of the Constitutional Court, 
Ambassador to the United States, and Minister of Education. 

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government does not restrict the activities of local human 
rights monitors or the delegations and representatives of 
international and nongovernmental human rights groups that 
visit Kyrgyzstan.  For example, the Human Rights Movement of 
Kyrgyzstan was registered by the Ministry of Justice in 1991.  
It focuses on the activities of law enforcement and security 
agencies as well as alleged cases of discrimination in the 
workplace based on ethnicity.  The Kyrgyz-American Bureau on 
Human Rights and Law Protection registered with the Ministry of 
Justice in December.  The Bureau states that its goal is to 
bring to the world's attention the human rights situation in 
Kyrgyzstan.  


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Government expresses strong commitment to protecting the 
rights of members of all ethnic, religious, and linguistic 
groups as well as those of women.  In a total population of 
4 1/2 million, some 52 percent are Kyrgyz, 22 percent Russians, 
13 percent Uzbeks, and the remainder include Ukrainians, 
Tajiks, Kazakhs, and others.

     Women

The law gives equal status to women in Kyrgyzstan, and women 
are well represented in the work force, professions, and 
institutions of higher learning.  In rural areas, women still 
seem limited to the roles of homemaker, mother, and wife.  The 
press often reports abuse and violence against women which is 
frequently associated with abuse of alcohol.  Normal law 
enforcement procedures are used in cases of domestic violence.  
The Government has not initiated special programs to address 
these issues but is discussing possible measures.  In Bishkek, 
there is a Women's Congress, which is headed by the current 
head of the Constitutional Court, a woman.  The Congress meets 
periodically ro consider women's issues.  

     Children

The Government adopted in 1993 two laws, the Law on Education 
and the Conception of the Youth, which address children's 
rights.  On the basis of these two laws, the Government is in 
the process of working out a comprehensive legislative packet 
on the rights and welfare of youth in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Complaints of discrimination center on the treatment of 
citizens who are not ethnic Kyrgyz.  This group, which makes up 
over 40 percent of the population of Kyrgyzstan, is often 
called the Russian-speaking minority, although Russian-speaking 
Uzbeks comprise about 13 percent of the total population.  
Members of this group alleged discrimination in hiring, 
promotion, and housing.  They complained that government 
officials at all levels favored ethnic Kyrgyz.

Russian speakers pointed to ethnic Kyrgyz squatters in Bishkek 
who occupied land and were later given government aid to build 
houses.  They cited this as an example of a policy that favored 
ethnic Kyrgyz at the expense of other groups, in that the 
authorities provided direct financial assistance and allowed 
the squatters to bypass the "propiska" system.  Russian 
speakers also alleged that a "ceiling" existed in government 
employment that precluded their promotion beyond a certain 
level.  The percentage of ethnic Kyrgyz at high and 
intermediate levels of government is much greater than the 
percentage of ethnic Kyrgyz in the general population.  Ethnic 
Kyrgyz have replaced Russian speakers in many positions in 
government, industry, and education, and this development gives 
credence to perceptions that career opportunities are limited 
for those who are not ethnic Kyrgyz.

The appointment of ethnic Kyrgyz to key positions in the 
judicial system has led to charges by non-Kyrgyz citizens that 
the system is arbitrary and unfair and that the courts treat 
Kyrgyz more leniently than members of other groups.  Although 
there is no evidence of systematic discrimination, it may have 
occurred in individual cases.

The 1993 Constitution designated Kyrgyz as the official 
language and stated that Russian and other languages used in 
the country were guaranteed preservation and equal and free 
development.  However, many Russian speakers, particularly 
ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, still feel disadvantaged 
because they cannot speak Kyrgyz.  They have called on the 
Government to adopt a policy of bilingualism.  The Government 
has not established a universally available program of Kyrgyz 
instruction for adult non-Kyrgyz speakers, although some 
instruction is available.  In general, adults who did not speak 
the language did not demand Kyrgyz-language instruction.  
Currently, both Russian and Kyrgyz are used in industry, 
education, and the courts.  Most ethnic Russians favor giving 
Russian equal status with Kyrgyz as national languages in the 
Constitution.

     People with Disabilities

Handicapped persons are not openly discriminated against, but 
the current harsh economic conditions limit the Government's 
ability to provide equal opportunity for individuals with 
handicaps.  Parliament in April 1991 adopted the Law on Social 
Protection of the Disabled, which provides for accessibility 
for the handicapped, but lack of funds makes implementation of 
this law a low priority.


Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The law adopted in February 1992 includes provisions protecting 
the rights of all workers to form and belong to trade unions.  
The law requires a minimum of five workers to form a union.  
There is no evidence that government policy tried to obstruct 
the formation of independent unions.  However, the Federation 
of Independent Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FITUK), successor to 
the former official union, remains the sole trade union 
umbrella organization, has the same leadership, continues to 
manage the State's social fund, and retains possession of its 
previously held properties.  The employer automatically deducts 
dues from employees' paychecks, which are then transferred to 
the trade union's account.  It professes to be transforming 
itself from a passive recipient of orders from Moscow during 
the Soviet period into a genuine defender of working people.  
In 1993 FITUK was very critical of government policies and 
their impact on the workers' standard of living.  Nevertheless, 
FITUK regards itself still as in a process of transition in 
which it is working out its relations with the Government, with 
the unions in other former republics of the Soviet Union, and 
with unions abroad.  It remains affiliated with the 
Moscow-based General Confederation of Trade Unions, which 
succeeded the Soviet-era All-Union Central Council of Trade 
Unions.  

Nineteen of Kyrgyzstan's 20 union organizations are affiliated 
with FITUK with a claimed membership of 1.5 million.  The 
exception is the growing Union of Entrepreneurs and Cooperative 
Members which as of October 1993 claimed a membership of 
50,000.  FITUK does not coordinate with the Union of 
Entrepreneurs and Cooperative Members.

While the right to strike is not codified, strikes are not 
prohibited.  In 1993 there were no strikes by workers' unions.  
However, the threat of strikes by teachers, miners, and medical 
workers was sufficient to induce the Government to address 
these labor groups' respective concerns by raising salaries.  
There were no retaliatory actions against these groups, nor 
were there instances of human rights abuses directed at unions 
or individual workers.

Unions are legally permitted to form and join federations and 
to affiliate with international trade union bodies.  The new 
labor law called for practices consistent with international 
standards.  Since independent unions were still in their 
infancy, no meaningful affiliation with international trade 
union bodies took place.  

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

A law passed in April 1992 recognizes the right of unions to 
negotiate for better wages and conditions.  Although overall 
union structure and practice remain consistent with the Soviet 
experience, there is growing evidence of active union 
participation in state-owned and privatized enterprises.  In 
the second half of 1993, leaders of the official trade unions 
actively criticized the President and the Government for the 
economic crisis and the resulting drop in the standard of 
living for workers.  In most sectors of the economy, the 
Government continued to set wage levels by decree, although 
many factories have begun systems of bonuses and other 
incentives in keeping with the Government's commitment to 
develop a market economy.  The Government has no influence in 
setting wages in the private sector, where wages offered by 
employers are considerably higher than those paid in the public 
sector.  

Union members are protected by law from antiunion 
discrimination, and there were no recorded instances of 
discrimination against anyone because of union activities in 
1993.  However, because the old management/labor leadership 
continues to dominate the labor movement, those who wished to 
form an independent union faced formidable obstacles.  This 
situation, along with a deteriorating economy, may have 
discouraged independent union activity.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is forbidden by law and does not 
occur.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment is 18.  Students are allowed to 
work up to 6 hours per day in summer or in part-time jobs from 
the age of 16.  The law prohibits the use of child labor (under 
16).  The police are responsible for enforcing the law; the 
Ministry of Education monitors enforcement.  Restrictions on 
the use of child labor were largely observed.  However, the law 
is violated on occasion by small family businesses and more 
frequently by family farms.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Government sets a national, legally mandated minimum wage 
at a level that theoretically provides for minimal 
subsistence.  The minimum wage at present is $3.50, or 32 soms 
per month.  After January 1, 1994, it will be $5, or 45 soms 
per month.  In practice, even the higher median wage is 
considered insufficient to assure a decent standard of living 
for a worker and a family.  The FITUK is responsible for 
enforcing all labor laws, including the law on the minimum 
wage.  As the Government provided the overwhelming proportion 
of employment, minimum wage regulations were largely observed.  
However, enforcement of labor laws was nonexistent in the 
growing underground economy.  Nevertheless, market forces 
helped wages in the unofficial sector keep pace with official 
wage scales.

The standard workweek is 41 hours, usually within a 5-day 
week.  For state industries, there is a mandatory 24-hour rest 
period within the workweek.  Small private and family 
businesses set their own hours.

The April 1992 law established occupational health and safety 
standards as well as enforcement procedures.  Safety and health 
conditions in factories are far behind international 
standards.  The deteriorating economy hindered enforcement of 
existing regulations and prevented investment to improve health 
and safety standards.  Besides government inspection teams, 
trade unions are assigned active roles in assuring compliance 
with these measures.



[end of document]

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