Rights at risk in Kazakhstan, HRW says

Sept. 10, 2012 at 10:32 AM

ALMATY, Kazakhstan, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch said the economy in Kazakhstan is improving but warned that labor rights of thousands of workers are exploited as a result.

The rights organization, in a 153-page report, said economic growth fed by oil reserves in Kazakhstan is accompanied by abusive labor practices.

March demonstrations in Kazakhstan came 100 days after clashes between police and protesters in the western Kazakh oil city of Zhanaozen. In June, Kazakh authorities charged some of the demonstrators with plotting a "forcible overthrow of constitutional order" in the country.

Mihra Rittmann, a researcher on Central Asian affairs at Human Rights Watch, said the government and companies working there are ignoring basic legal obligations.

"Workers' rights are being trampled and they have nowhere to turn to resolve labor disputes," she said in a statement.

Companies operating in Kazakhstan are interfering with the rights to collective bargaining, Human Rights Watch said, adding authorities are using violence to break up peaceful protests.

At least 15 people were killed during last year's oil strikes.

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