Population: 5.3 million (2.0 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 12,500
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18 (men - but see text); 19 (women); 16 (as cadets)
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: acceded 13 August 2003
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182


There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces but cadets as young as 16 were considered by law to be national servicemen.

Context:

In May 2005 hundreds of refugees fled from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan after the killing of hundreds of mainly peaceful demonstrators in Andijon. Uzbekistan accused Kyrgyzstan of hosting a training camp for an alleged armed group named Akramia which it claimed was involved in the Andijan events (see Uzbekistan entry).1 In May 2006 armed men, allegedly linked to the armed opposition group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) (see Uzbekistan entry), raided a Tajik-Kyrgyz frontier post; several of the attackers and Tajik and Kyrgyz security forces were killed in the ensuing fighting.2 In July five alleged IMU members were killed in counter-terrorism operations and in August the security forces shot and killed two other IMU members accused of involvement in the May attacks, together with an imam initially accused of being an IMU member but whom the authorities later claimed was being used as a human shield.3

Kyrgyzstan was a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), established in June 2001, comprising also China, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, whose goals included mutual co-operation in security matters.4

Government:

National recruitment legislation and practice

The 1992 Compulsory Military Service Act, as amended in July 2005, provided for universal male conscription at 18. Military service was for one year, and alternative service for two.5 The government stated that there were no laws allowing any reduction in the age of conscription.6

Men could enlist voluntarily after military or alternative service, or after completing reserve officer training at a higher educational institution. Women could join the army voluntarily from the age of 19.7

Boys could enter the Higher Military Academy at the age of 16-17, and were by law national servicemen (cadets).8 Kyrgyzstan's declaration on accession to the Optional Protocol in 2003 stated that the minimum age for recruitment of male citizens to active service was 18.9 Subsequently the government stated to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that first-year cadets were not allowed to take part in military operations, and that in practice under-18s were thus excluded from conflict, although it indicated that certain first-year cadets could be an exception to this rule.10

Military training and military schools

All school pupils in grades ten and 11 (aged 15-16) took weekly classes in pre-conscription preparation. In grade 11, boys had three days' training in weapons handling and girls had first-aid classes.11

Two military educational institutions accepted boys under 18 who had completed their ninth grade. In 2003-5 two 13-year-olds were enrolled at the Dair Asanov Kyrgyz State Military High School. In 2005-6, 556 students were aged 14-17.12 The school was transferred from the control of the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Defence in January 2006 to "increase the effectiveness of training".13 In 2005-6 the Kalyinur Usenbekov Higher Military College in Bishkek took 26 students aged 17.14

Applications to the two military schools were made through local conscription commissions, and the consent of the student and parent was required. Most students went on to become military officers, but had the option of transferring out of the program after two years and going on to higher education.15 In response to questions about reports of continued bullying and "initiation rites", the government told the Committee on the Rights of the Child that measures had been taken, including separating younger from older students, establishing a monitoring committee, and allowing students to complain to the Ombudsman's office and to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).16

Mass fighting between second- and third-year students at the Dair Asanov school in April 2007 reportedly broke out after second-year students assaulted a younger student.17

Armed Groups:

The government stated that no non-governmental armed groups operated in Kygyzstan.18 Pakistani military sources in 2004 claimed that armed groups operating in Pakistan were increasingly recruiting teenagers from Central Asia, but these claims were disputed and could not be confirmed.19

The recruitment, training, financing or other material assisting of child soldiers, or the use of child soldiers in armed conflicts or hostilities, was a criminal offence.20 No prosecutions were known to have been brought under this provision. The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern that there was no legal provision for extraterritorial jurisdiction in case of recruitment abroad of Kyrgyz children or other children by a Kyrgyz national or a person with other links to Kyrgyzstan, and recommended that Kyrgyzstan establish extraterritorial jurisdiction in these matters.21

Developments:

In June 2006 a new Children's Code was adopted by parliament.22 Article 27(2) of the Code specified that extra state benefits would be available for children in zones of conflict or who had been forcibly displaced, but it did not contain any provision prohibiting the use of children as soldiers.

In May 2007 the Committee on the Rights of the Child examined the initial report of Kyrgyzstan on implementation of the Optional Protocol. In addition to its recommendations for establishing extraterritorial jurisdiction on child recruitment, the Committee raised concerns about the export of small arms and light weapons to countries where children took part in hostilities, and recommended that Kyrgyzstan review its domestic legislation with a view to abolishing such exports.23

International standards

Kyrgyzstan ratified the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention 182 in May 2004.


1 Bruce Pannier, "Uzbekistan: Tashkent points finger at neighbor, foreign media over Andijon violence", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), 16 September 2005, www.rferl.org.

2 Dadodjan Azimov, "Are Islamic militants regrouping in the Fergana valley?", Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), 1 December 2006, www.iwpr.net; see also Amnesty International Report 2007.

3 Amnesty International Report 2007.

4 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, www.sectsco.org.

5 Compulsory Military Service Act , Article 10, at Ministry of Defence of the Kyrgyz Republic, www.mil.kg; see also Initial report of Kyrgyzstan to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, CRC/C/OPAC/KGZ/1, 22 May 2006.

6 Initial report, above note 5.

7 Ibid.

8 Compulsory Military Service Act, Article 11; Initial report of Kyrgyzstan, above note 5.

9 Declaration on accession to the Optional Protocol, www2.ohchr.org.

10 Initial report, above note 5; Statement by Government of Kyrgyz Republic to the Committee, 29 January 2007.

11 Written replies by the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/KGZ/Q/1/Add.1, 11 January 2007.

12 Ibid; Ministry of Defence website www.mil.kg/ru/education.

13 Z. Satabaldiev, "Military Academy is transferred to the control of the Ministry of Defence of the Kyrgyz Republic", Voennyii, 19 January 2006, www.massmedia.kg/ru (no longer available); Press Service of President, "President Kurmanbek Bakiev visited the National Military Lyceum on the Day of Knowledge", 1 September 2007, www.president.kg; see also UN press release, "Committee examines reports of Kyrgyzstan on Optional Protocols to Convention on Rights of Child", 29 January 2007, www.ohchr.org (media centre).

14 Written replies, above note 11.

15 Ibid.; Ministry of Defence website www.mil.kg/ru/education; UN press release, above note 13.

16 UN press release, above note 13.

17 See, for example, Jyldyzbek Ibraliev, "The Administration of the Military Lyceum of Kyrgyzstan Doesn't Deny that a Mass Fight between Pupils Occurred on 6 April 2007", 24.kg, 10 April 2007, www.24.kg.

18 Initial report, above note 6.

19 See, for example, "Tale of a lost militant", Reuters, 15 December 2004; "Qaeda using children for terrorism", Daily Times (Pakistan), 26 November 2004, both at www.dailytimes.com.pk (for more detail see Tajikistan entry).

20 Criminal Code, Article 375, para. 3, cited in Initial report, above note 5.

21 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Kyrgyzstan on implementation of the Optional Protocol, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/KGZ/CO/1, 2 May 2007.

22 UNICEF, "Laying the foundation for the rights of Kyrgyz children", 9 June 2006, www.unicef.org.

23 Committee on the Rights of the Child, above note 21.

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