On Friday 11 May, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the CERD Committee) called on Kyrgyzstan to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination law, acting on a recommendation made by the Equal Rights Trust, on behalf of our partners, the Kyrgyzstani Coalition for Equality.
The adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was the central recommendation made by the Trust in our written submission to the CERD Committee and during our participation in the Committee’s 95th session. Our submission presented evidence and recommendations from our 2016 report, Looking for Harmony: Addressing Discrimination and Inequality in Kyrgyzstan, which concluded, amongst other things, that ethnicity remains a vexed issue in Kyrgyzstan following inter-ethnic violence in 2010. There is limited legislative protection from discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, and many organisations working on behalf of ethnic minority groups – particularly ethnic Uzbeks – feel forced to work with low profile. In this context, the adoption of comprehensive equality legislation will bring particular benefits for ethnic minorities.
Our engagement with the CERD Committee is the latest step in more than 18 months of work with equality defenders in Kyrgyzstan regarding strategies for the adoption of new equality legislation. In the week immediately prior to the CERD review, the Trust and the Coalition for Equality, a group of Kyrgyzstani civil society organisations working with and on behalf of different groups exposed to discrimination, met to discuss a draft anti-discrimination law prepared by the Coalition and strategies for engagement with the government.
The CERD Committee’s recommendation on anti-discrimination law followed a declaration by the Kyrgyzstani delegation, during its dialogue with the Committee, that the state is “ready to adopt such legislation” in cooperation with international experts and national organisations. In coming months, the Equal Rights Trust will provide technical, strategic and financial support to the Coalition for Equality, to enable it engage government in this process of reform.
Kyrgyzstan is just one of a number of countries in which we are supporting equality defenders to establish coalitions and press for equality law reform. Over the coming five years, we aim to establish or strengthen equality coalitions in fifteen different countries and to support five of these coalitions to secure the adoption or reform of comprehensive equality laws. For further details, please download our new five-year Strategy.