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Progress mixed for Kazakhstan

Oct. 1, 2012 at 12:02 PM   |   Comments

ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Kazakhstan should ensure gains made in ending contemporary forms of slavery aren't erased by existing legislation, a visiting U.N. envoy said.

The government in Kazakhstan in 2009 moved to eradicate modern forms of slavery uncovered at the country's tobacco plantations. There, the United Nations said, workers were forced into a form of bonded labor.

Gulnara Shahinian, a U.N. special envoy on modern slavery, said proposed legislation on work permits might undermine gains made since 2009.

"Without long-term solutions such as an easier process for acquiring work permits and ensuring access to education and medical services for all -- foreigners and Kazakh citizens as mentioned in the Kazakh constitution -- the huge gains that have been made might be lost," she said in a statement.

The government in Astana is one of the hosts for a two-day seminar with the International Committee of the Red Cross to examine ways to prevent the use of weapons banned by international law.

The ICRC since the 1990s has been working with Central Asian countries to implement humanitarian and international laws. Four dozen legal representatives from the region are expected to attend the seminar in Astana.

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