Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2014, 11:13 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Kazakhstan

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Kazakhstan, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca1e37.html [accessed 23 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

On July 31, 2000, the Government of Kazakhstan created a Council for Children's Matters to analyze youth issues and offer policy advice.[2337] A Presidential decree titled the "Outline of Children's Rights" also sets up special units among internal affairs authorities focusing on the affairs of minors. These special units deal specifically with child crime and the protection of the rights, interests, and freedoms of minors.[2338] The National Commission for Women's and Family Issues and the Prosecutor General are leading efforts to combat trafficking of women and girls in Kazakhstan.[2339] The Commission has joined with the Gender Crimes Unit of the Ministry of the Interior to conduct research on trafficking, and Commission representatives have engaged in some preventative activities.[2340] With funding from USAID, IOM is implementing an anti-trafficking program in cooperation with government ministries. The program aims to raise awareness and develop a preventative action plan for the country.[2341]

The Ministry of Education and Science has joined with local representatives and law enforcement agencies to conduct regular searches for school truants and provide services for children in need.[2342] The government provides free textbooks to children from large families, children who receive social assistance, and disabled, orphaned, and institutionalized children.[2343] The ADB has approved two technical assistance grants of USD 600,000 to prepare a childhood development project and strengthen the education sector development strategy for the Government of Kazakhstan.[2344] International organizations, such as UNICEF and UNESCO, have also implemented programs aimed at improving the country's education system.[2345]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Recent statistics on working children under the age of 15 are unavailable.[2346] However, educators interviewed for the ILO-IPEC Child Labor Survey in Kazakhstan estimate that over one-half of all children participate in labor activities at some time during their childhood.[2347]

Child labor tends to occur mostly in rural areas during harvest time, when children are employed in agriculture.[2348] However, growth in the informal sector has led to increases in the involvement of young people in unregulated employment in urban areas.[2349] Children in cities, including many homeless and abandoned children, can be found: working at gas stations; selling newspapers, magazines, and other goods; wiping windshields and cleaning cars; conducting buses; loading and unloading goods; and begging and working in bazaars and small businesses, often alongside their parents.[2350] Although the scope of the problem is unknown, local media reports indicate that child prostitution is a problem in Kazakhstan.[2351] There are also reports that children are sold or pawned by parents or guardians.[2352] Kazakhstan is reported to be a source country for trafficking in children (mainly teenage girls) to the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Turkey, Israel, South Korea, Cyprus, France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, and Albania.[2353] There are some reports that Kazakhstan is also a destination country for trafficking in children.[2354]

Under the Constitution and the Education Act, school is free and compulsory through grade 9 or up to the age of 16 years.[2355] The Government also provides free secondary vocational and higher vocational education as well as free and compulsory preparation classes for children aged 5 and 6 years.[2356] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 98.8 percent. In the same year, the net primary enrollment rate was 88.7 percent.[2357] Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Kazakhstan. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[2358] The number of children enrolled in preschool grew by 10,500 in the year 2000, while the percentage of children enrolled in kindergarten increased by 2.1 percent.[2359] However, government resources for education have declined by over 50 percent in the last decade.[2360]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years with parental consent, providing that the work does not interfere with school attendance or pose a health threat.[2361] Children 16 years and older may independently sign work contracts.[2362] Children under 18 years are prohibited from working in dangerous conditions, overtime, or at night.[2363] Children between the ages of 14 and 16 may not work more than 24 hours per week. Children between 16 and 18 may not work more than 36 hours per week.[2364] The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except under a court mandate or in a state of emergency.[2365] The Criminal Code was expanded in 1997 to include an article establishing penalties for the sale or purchase of minors.[2366]

Although the Code of Administrative Offences criminalizes the involvement of minors in the creation of pornographic products, there are no special prohibitions against involving children in the storage or distribution of sexual products or the use of images of minors for sexual purposes.[2367] There are no specific laws prohibiting prostitution.[2368] However, procuring a minor to engage in prostitution, begging, or gambling is illegal under the Criminal Code and punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, or 8 years if the minor is trafficked abroad.[2369] Article 330 of the Criminal Code criminalizes organized illegal migration, including the trafficking of minors across borders.[2370] On May 15, 2003, Parliament approved amendments to the Code intended to strengthen its anti-trafficking campaign.[2371]

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws.[2372] However, reports indicate that regulations are inadequately enforced.[2373]

The Government of Kazakhstan ratified ILO Convention 138 on May 18, 2001 and ratified ILO Convention 182 on February 26, 2003.[2374]


[2298] ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, ILO-IPEC, [online] [cited June 13, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm.

[2299] ILO-IPEC, National Programme for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour in Jordan, project document, Geneva, September 2002, 7. See also H.M. Queen Noor, National Task Force for Children, [online] 2002 [cited June 19, 2003]; available from http://www.noor.gov.jo/main/ntfc.htm.

[2300] Implementation of the national strategy is scheduled for 2004. See ILO-IPEC, National Program in Jordan – project document, 24-25. See also U.S. Embassy-Amman, unclassified telegram no. 5763, September 9, 2003.

[2337] USAID, Global Education Database 2000 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2000. The Council is also referred to as the Council for Youth Affairs. It is comprised of representatives from children's and young people's voluntary organizations. See The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, United Nations, Geneva, September 24, 2002, para 21.

[2338] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1996: Kazakhstan, prepared by The Republic of Kazakhstan, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 24, 2002.

[2339] The Law Enforcement Coordinating Council is working on anti-trafficking strategies. See U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Kazakhstan, online, Washington, D.C., June 11, 2003; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2003/21276.htm. The government has partnered with NGOs to support the training of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement employees on how to process trafficking cases. The government has also cooperated with NGOs to conduct trafficking prevention programs. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Kazakhstan, online, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6f; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18374pf.htm.

[2340] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Kazakhstan.

[2341] Other participating organizations include businesses and NGOs. See USAID, Selected USAID Anti-Trafficking Efforts in Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union, in USAID's Women in Development Publications, [online database] September 2001 [cited August 15, 2003]; available from http://www.genderreach.com/pubs/trafficking/ee.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2342] The Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have set up a process and criteria for registering school age youth. See The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, paras. 274-75.

[2343] Ibid., para. 281.

[2344] ADB, Promoting Childhood Development in Kazakhstan, in ADB, [database online] December 21, 2001 [cited August 27, 2003]; available from http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2001/nr2001212.asp. See also ADB, Updating Kazakhstan's Education Sector Strategy, in ADB, [database online] January 2, 2003 [cited August 27 2003]; available from http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2003/nr2003001.asp.

[2345] Dr. Serikzhan, H. Bereshev, and James G. Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan, ILO-IPEC, Geneva, September 1997., 19. See also UNESCO, Education, in UNESCO-Primary Education, [online database] 2001 [cited August 27, 2003]; available from http://www.unesco.org/education/primary/nat_activities.shtml.

[2346] National Labor Force surveys carried out by the Kazakhstan government do not collect employment statistics on children under 15 years. See ILO, Laborsta, in Laborsta, [online database] 2000 [cited August 22, 2003]; available from http://laborsta.ilo.org. In 1996, a national household survey on living standards found that 31.1 percent of children ages 7 to 14 were working only or working and studying in Kazakhstan. The survey also found that a higher percentage of children in Central Kazakhstan work without attending school than in other regions of the country. See Understanding Children's Work: An Inter-Agency Research Cooperation Project at Innocenti Research Center, Kazakhstan Living Standards Survey, [online] [cited September 18, 2002]; available from http://www.ucw-project.org/cgi-bin/ucw/Survey/Main.sql?come=Tab_Country_Res.sql&ID_SURVEY=1095.

[2347] Dr. Serikzhan, Bereshev, and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 3

[2348] Children tend to work in agriculture on family farms. See A. Bauer, N. Boschmann, D. Jay Green, and K. Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk, Children in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (ADB, 1998)., 39. See also U.S. Embassy-Almaty, unclassified telegram, no. 6573, October 2001. See also "Kazakhstan: Economic Freedom," Kazakh Service (2003).

[2349] The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, para. 345.

[2350] Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk, 39, 108. See also Dr. Serikzhan, Bereshev, and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 3

[2351] A survey of school-age girls in Almaty suggests that prostitution is regarded as an acceptable profession given serious family economic problems. See Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk, 114-15. The Kazakhstan Today News Agency reported that a medical investigation conducted in several cities including Almaty discovered children as young as 10 suffering from sexually transmitted diseases as a result of being sexually abused by tourists. See Cheryl Eichorn, electronic communication to USDOL official, October 23, 2001.

[2352] Bauer, Boschmann, Green, and Kuehnast, A Generation at Risk, 108.

[2353] Travel, employment and marriage agencies lured girls into trafficking with promises of good jobs or marriage abroad. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2354] Children were trafficked from the Kyrgz Republic, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. See Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 2003.

[2355] Students may begin technical training at grade 9. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 5.

[2356] The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, points 257 and 67. It is mandated that Universal Compulsory Secondary Education Funds be established at schools in Kazakhstan in order to pay for education expenses, including clothes, shoes, text books, training aids, and school meals for needy students. The funds are provided by local governments and private sources (such as sponsorships) and total no less than 1 percent of the schools' current operational budgets. See Resolution #812 on Measures to Promote Further Reforms of Secondary Education System of the Republic of Kazakhstan, August 28, 1998 as cited in UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Report – Kazakhstan, prepared by Sports, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/kazakhstan/contents.html.

[2357] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[2358] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[2359] The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, para. 263.

[2360] In 1990, 24.5 percent of the budget expenditures and 5.7 percent of GDP were spent on education. In 1998, percentages for budget expenditures and GDP were 11.2 and 3.0 respectively. See UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment. See also Dr. Serikzhan, Bereshev, and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan., 18.

[2361] The Government of Kazakhstan, Labour Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in force January 2000 1999; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/E99KAZ01.htm., Section 11, no. 3.

[2362] Ibid., Section 11, no. 1.

[2363] Children between ages 16 and 18 years may not work more than 36 hours per week. Children between ages 15 and 16 years (or 14 and 16 years during non-school periods) may not work over 24 hours per week. See Ibid., Sections 46-49.

[2364] The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, para. 343.

[2365] Government of Kazakhstan, The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan., Article 24. See also The Government of Kazakhstan, "Labour Law.", Section 6

See also The Government of Kazakhstan, Labour Law, Section 6.

[2366] Aggravating circumstances include: engaging in the same act with two or more minors, selling body parts, and sale by a group of persons or by a person in a position of authority, in conjunction with trafficking or inciting the youth to commit immoral acts. See The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, para. 358. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2367] The Government of Kazakhstan, Consideration of Reports, para. 355.

[2368] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2369] Criminal Code of the Kazakh Republic, Articles 102, 03, 28, 201 and 15 available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/KazakhstanFinal.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2370] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Kazakhstan. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2371] The amendments expand the law to cover the trafficking of persons from countries other than Kazakhstan for purposes of sexual or other forms of exploitation. They impose sentences of up to 4 years. See "Human Trafficking Criminalized in Kazakhstan", Legislationline.org, [online], May 19, 2003 [cited August 27, 2003]; available from http://www.legislationline.org/news.php?topic=0&country=42&iorg=0&month=0&year=2003. See also U.S. Embassy-Almaty, unclassified telegram no. 2526, May 2003.

[2372] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Kazakhstan, Section 6d.

[2373] Dr. Serikzhan, Bereshev, and Windell, Child Labour in Kazakhstan, 18.

[2374] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [online database] [cited August 20, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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