Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Kazakhstan

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Kazakhstan, 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca5fc.html [accessed 20 September 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.

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138 5/18/2001X
Ratified Convention 182 2/26/2003X
ILO-IPEC Associated MemberX
National Plan for ChildrenX
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Recent statistics on working children under the age of 15 in Kazakhstan are unavailable.[2220] Most working children are involved in agriculture in rural areas during harvest time.[2221] In urban areas, the country's increasingly formalized labor market has led to a decrease in many forms of child labor. However, children continue to be found begging, loading freight, delivering goods in markets, washing cars, and working at gas stations.[2222] Reports also indicate a rise in the number of children engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, pornography and drug trafficking in urban areas. Children working as domestic servants are often invisible and, for this reason, also vulnerable to exploitation.[2223] Kazakhstan is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Girls in their teens are one of the primary targets for trafficking from Kazakhstan to other countries. Internal trafficking from rural to urban areas also occurs.[2224]

The Constitution and the Education Act provide for free and compulsory schooling through grade 9 or up to age 16 years.[2225] The government also provides free secondary vocational and higher vocational education, as well as free and compulsory preparation classes for children age 5 and 6 years.[2226] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 99.3 percent. In the same year, the net primary enrollment rate was 89.5 percent.[2227] Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 1999, gross and net primary school attendance rates were 123.8 and 85.6 percent, respectively.[2228] The rates of repetition for males and females in primary schools in 2001 was 22.8 and 10.5 percent, respectively.[2229] Despite efforts to ensure education for all, increases in costs associated with education have limited access to children from disadvantaged families. The quality of education also suffers from regional disparities and untrained teachers. A decrease in the number of pre-schools has limited access to pre-school education and there has also been a recent increase in drop out rates in secondary and vocational education.[2230]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years.[2231] However, children may work at age 15 if they have completed their compulsory education.[2232] With parental consent, children 14 years or older may perform light work, providing that the work does not interfere with school attendance or pose a health threat.[2233] Children under 18 years are prohibited from working in dangerous conditions, overtime, or at night.[2234] The Constitution prohibits forced labor, except under a court mandate or in a state of emergency.[2235] Several Government Decrees also establish guarantees for children and youth in the areas of labor and employment.[2236]

Although the Code of Administrative Offences criminalizes the involvement of minors in the creation and advertisement of erotic products, there is no special law against involving children in the creation, storage, or distribution of products of a "sexual nature" or the use of images of minors for sexual purposes.[2237] Procuring a minor to engage in prostitution, begging, or gambling is illegal under Article 201 of the Penal Code and punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment.[2238] Article 128 criminalizes the recruitment of persons for sexual or other exploitation and imposes a 2-year prison sentence for infractions. In 2003, the Penal Code was amended to include punishments for trafficking in persons. Specifically, it imposes a 5-year prison sentence if a minor is involved, and an 8-year sentence if persons are trafficked abroad.[2239] The Code also includes an article establishing penalties for the sale or purchase of minors.[2240] Article 330 of the Code criminalizes organized illegal migration, including the trafficking of minors across borders.[2241] Although the Law Enforcement Coordination Council issued detailed instructions for prosecutors and law enforcement officials, information to date suggests that prosecutions under the Code are rare.[2242]

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is responsible for enforcing child labor laws and imposing fines for administrative offenses. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating criminal child labor offenses.[2243] The Ministry of Labor has increased the number of labor inspectors by 100, bringing the total to 400. Each of the country's 16 districts have labor inspectors. They are empowered to levy fines for labor violations and refer criminal cases to law enforcement authorities.[2244] In August 2003, the Minister of Justice was given responsibility for coordinating all of the government's anti-trafficking activities.[2245]

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

The Government of Kazakhstan has an Interdepartmental Commission which attends to matters relating to the protection of children's rights and interests.[2246] The government also has special units among internal affairs authorities, which focus on the affairs of children, deal specifically with child crime and the protection of the rights, interests, and freedoms of minors.[2247] The government's anti-trafficking Commission is led by the Minister of Justice and includes the Minister of Interior, the National Security Committee (KNB) Chairman, the Prosecutor General, the Foreign Minister, and the Presidential Commission on Women and Family. The Ministry of the Interior's Gender Crimes Division has provided instructions to its units in how to recognize trafficking cases.[2248] The Ministry of Justice has set up hotlines and is airing public service announcements and preparing educational material on trafficking.[2249] The government has also established a victim referral system.[2250]

The Government of Germany is funding a USD 500,000 ILO-IPEC regional capacity building and direct action program to combat the worst forms of child labor project in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.[2251] USDOL is funding a 3-year USD 2.5 million ILO-IPEC project that will further build capacity of national institutions to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and share information and experiences in the sub-region of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.[2252]

The government has prioritized efforts to improve educational facilities in rural schools[2253] and provides free textbooks to children from large families, children who receive social assistance, and disabled, orphaned, and institutionalized children.[2254] 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.[2255] International organizations, such as UNICEF and UNESCO, implement programs aimed at improving the country's education system.[2256]


[2220] National Labor Force surveys carried out by the Kazakhstan government do not collect employment statistics on children under 15 years. See ILO, LABORSTAT, ILO, [online database] 2002 [cited August 23, 2004]; available from http://laborsta.ilo.org/cgi-bin/brokerv8.exe. In 1996, a national household survey on living standards found that 30.2 percent of children ages 7 to 14 years were economically active or economically active and studying in Kazakhstan. The survey also found that a higher percentage of children in Central Kazakhstan work without attending school than children in other regions of the country. See Understanding Children's Work, Kazakhstan Living Standards Survey, World Bank, [online database] 1996 [cited May 24, 2004]; available from http://www.ucw-project.org/cgi-bin/ucw/Survey/Main.sql?come=Tab_Country_Res.sql&ID_SURVEY=1095.

[2221] There are indications of a high prevalence of children engaged in tobacco and cotton cultivation. See ILO-IPEC, Combating Child Labour in Central Asia: Regional Programme with Focus on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, Draft Programme Outline, Draft Programme Outline, Geneva, 2001, 7. See also "Kazakhstan: Economic Freedom," Kazakh Service (2003); available from http://www.rferl.org/bd/ka/info/ka-ec.html.

[2222] ILO-IPEC, Combating Child Labour in Central Asia, 5-7. See also U.S. Embassy-Almaty, unclassified telegram no. 3206, August 2004.

[2223] ILO-IPEC, Combating Child Labour in Central Asia, 9. 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 State Official, electronic communication to USDOL official, October 23, 2001.

[2224] 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 on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Kazakhstan, online, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6f; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27845.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Kazakhstan, online, Washington, D.C., June 14, 2004; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2004/33192.htm.

[2225] Students may begin technical training at grade 9. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Kazakhstan, Section 5. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States parties due 1996: Kazakhstan, CRC/C/41/Add.13, prepared by The Republic of Kazakhstan, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 24, 2002, para 257.

[2226] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of Kazakhstan, CRC/C/41/Add.13, para 257 and 67.

[2227] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004.

[2228] USAID Development Indicators Service, Global Education Database, [online] 2004 [cited October 10, 2004]; available from http://qesdb.cdie.org/ged/index.html. Gross attendance rates greater than 100 percent indicate discrepancies between the estimates of school-age population and reported attendance data.

[2229] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004.

[2230] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Kazakhstan, CRC/C/15Add.213, July 10, 2003, 61. See also UNICEF, At a Glance: Kazakhstan, UNICEF, [online] 2004 [cited May 20, 2004]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/kazakhstan.html.

[2231] The Republic of Kazakhstan, Labour Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 1999, (January 2000), Section 11, no. 1; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/E99KAZ01.htm, Ruth Rosenberg, ed., Trafficking of Women and Children in Indonesia, 2003; available from www.http://www.icmc.net/files/traffreport.en.pdf.

[2232] U.S. Embassy-Almaty, unclassified telegram no. 3206.

[2233] Labour Law, Section 11, no. 3.

[2234] 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. The labor authorities determine a list of dangerous occupations. See Ibid., Sections 46-49, 115

[2235] The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan; available from http://www.president.kz/articles/state/state_container.asp?Ing=eng&art=constitution., Article 24. See also Labour Law, Section 6.

[2236] Government Decree No. 155 of 13 February 2003 on the Programme of Youth Policy for 2003-2004, (February 13, 2003); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.byCountry?p_lang=en. See also Instruction of the President No. 73 of 28 August 1999 on the Fundamentals of State Youth Policy, (August 28, 1999); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.byCountry?p_lang=en.

[2237] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of Kazakhstan, CRC/C/41/Add.13, para 355. In practice, however, Article 124 of the Criminal Code – which addresses dissolute or licentious acts (non-violent) with children under 14 – can be used to charge individuals with those offenses. Such offenses can carry a prison term of up to four years.

[2238] Criminal Code of the Kazakh Republic; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/KazakhstanFinal.pdf.

[2239] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2240] 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 the unlawful transport of a minor in or out of the country or inciting the youth to commit immoral acts. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of Kazakhstan, CRC/C/41/Add.13, para 358.

[2241] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2242] Ibid.

[2243] Ibid., Section 6d.

[2244] U.S. Embassy-Almaty, unclassified telegram no. 3206.

[2245] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Kazakhstan, Section 6d and 6f.

[2246] The Republic of Kazakhstan, Government Decree of 11 March 2004 on the creation of an Interdepartmental Commission on matters relating to the protection of children's rights and interests, (March 11, 2004); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=KAZ&p_classification=04&p_origin=COUNTRY.

[2247] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of Kazakhstan, CRC/C/41/Add.13, para 99.

[2248] The Commission was scheduled to develop a National Plan to combat trafficking by the end of 2003. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Kazakhstan, Section 6f.

[2249] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Kazakhstan.

[2250] One-third of regional districts, police departments and NGOS have formalized cooperative agreements to assist victims, conduct training and investigate cases. Informal agreements exist in most of the remaining districts. See Ibid.

[2251] The project was funded by Germany in 2003. See ILO-IPEC – Geneva official, email communication to USDOL official, May 12, 2004.

[2252] The project was funded by USDOL in 2004. See ILO-IPEC, CAR Capacity Building Project: Regional Program on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, project document, RER/04/P54/USA, Geneva, September 2004, vii.

[2253] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report of Kazakhstan (continued), CRC/C/SR.886, prepared by The Republic of Kazakhstan, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, July 24, 2003, para 63.

[2254] Government Decree No. 738 of 17 May 2000 on levels and sources of social assistance to citizens during the period of their education, (May 17, 2000); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.byCountry?p_lang=en.

[2255] The Ministry of the Economy and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have set up a process and criteria for registration of out-of-school age youth. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of Kazakhstan, CRC/C/41/Add.13, paras 74-75.

[2256] UNICEF, At a Glance: Kazakhstan. See also UNESCO, Education, in UNESCO-Primary Education, [online database] 2001 [cited August 23, 2004]; available from http://www.unesco.org/education/primary/nat_activities.shtml.

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