|UNHCR and the State Registration Service under the Government of Kyrgyzstan revised and updated the National Action Plan on the Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness in the Kyrgyz Republic|
13 December, Bishkek – Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kyrgyzstan with the State Registration Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic co-organized and held a third High-Level Steering Meeting on the Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan.
Government officials of all relevant state bodies, representatives of civil society organizations and experts reviewed progress on the implementation of the National Action Plan and discussed actions to be taken accordingly.
According to the presentations made at the meeting, despite substantial progress made in preventing and reducing statelessness, there are still a considerable number of persons without proper identification and citizenship documentation in Kyrgyzstan.
“UNHCR is particularly concerned about the limited legal protection and access to the state socio-economic services, as well as the regretful negative impact it has on stateless and undocumented persons”, said UNHCR Representative Johann Siffointe. “We therefore look forward to strongly supporting the Kyrgyz authorities in the process of implementing the National Action Plan”, Mr. Siffointe continued.
“The Kyrgyz Republic has made great progress in reducing statelessness caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Kyrgyz citizenship laws now largely comply with the international standards. The fruitful cooperation with UNHCR has resulted in a significantly reduced number of holders of Soviet passports,” confirmed Erlan Saparbaev, Chairman of the State Registration Service.
The UN Refugee Agency strongly recommends Kyrgyzstan to accede to the the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons as well as the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness as this would underscore the country’s commitment to human rights and improve the plight of thousands of people. Kyrgyzstan is not yet party to these Conventions though it already implements most of its provisions through its Citizenship Law.
“Our conference thus decided to promote accession to the two UN Statelessness Conventions and improve the implementation of Kyrgyz legislation”, said Erlan Saparbaev, Chairman of the State Registration Service.
According to data presented at the meeting, the vast majority of the undocumented, stateless and at risk of statelessness persons have practically assimilated in the Kyrgyz society through – long residence in Kyrgyzstan, children born in the country, some being of Kyrgyz ethnicity, or have marriage a to Kyrgyz citizens. Lacking proper documentation, however, they are barred from state socio-economic services such as subsidized medicine, pension, and social benefits. In addition, such persons are denied job opportunities and cannot register their property in their name.
The updated National Action Plan aims at reducing statelessness through accelerated exchange of old Soviet passports to Kyrgyz passports, solving the problem of birth registration and issuing birth certificates to all new-born children, raising awareness of the people concerned about their rights and available legal ways of obtaining documentation, bringing relevant laws in compliance with the 2007 Law on citizenship of Kyrgyzstan, and so on.
Since 2006 UNHCR has actively cooperated with the Government of Kyrgyzstan to assist stateless persons, internally displaced persons and returnees in Kyrgyzstan in the issuance and restoration of documents. During 2011-2012 alone, UNHCR provided assistance to the State Registration Service worth more than 5 million som.