The Plight of Uzbekistan’s Labor Migrants

by Nathan Hamm on 12/21/2007

migrant---3.jpgI recently received a report released by the Rapid Response Group (RRG) for Prevention of Torture in Uzbekistan on the topic of Uzbek labor migrants from a supporter of the RRG who wants to help the group and its work gain a higher profile. Below is an excerpt from the report.

Our researches show that the basic stream of trafficking of the Uzbek labor migrants is organized by so-called “foremen” – some kind of intermediaries, agents for hiring between the labor migrant and the employer either in the Russian Federation, or in Kazakhstan. Foremen collect groups of the Uzbek labor migrants from different parts of Uzbekistan, organize their trip to the employer and often accompany them to the final destination. Usually the natives of Uzbekistan who have developed good connections with the Russian or Kazakhstan employers act as foremen.

Upon arrival to the final destination foremen often collect passports of the Uzbek labor migrants, ostensibly for registration of migration documents and hand them over to the employer together with the labor migrants. If the labor migrants are lucky with the employer they will soon receive their passports back after the formalities with the migration registration are done. If the labor migrants are not lucky with the employer their passport will be left at the employer’s or foremen’s hands as a guarantee that the labor migrants will stay and keep working on conditions of the employer.

Download the entire report (PDF), read it, and pass it along. One can reasonably expect labor migration to continue to increase as the Kazakh and Russian economies put more distance between them and the Uzbek economy. As the practice grows, the work of groups like the RRG will only become more relevant.


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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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