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REGIONAL COOPERATION ON FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL MIGRATION IN CENTRAL ASIA: PROBLEMS AND PERSPECTIVES Печать E-mail
Автор Байназарова Э.Е.   
13.04.2009 г.

Image The worldwide growth in international migration in recent decades has been accompanied by an increase in what is variously called "irregular migration," "undocumented migration" or "illegal migration." That is, there has been an increase in the number of people living in the higher-income countries who have either entered the country in violation of that country's laws or who have done something to violate a condition of a legal entry. The latter may arise from staying longer than permitted or from working in spite of a visa that prohibits or limits working, such as a tourist, student or temporary worker visa.

The problem of illegal migration became one of the vital issues for the economically developed states for a long time. Experts consider that illegal migration turned into successful business of international criminal groups. Relying on some sources, yearly income of the transnational criminal groups, which specialise on illegal human smuggling, is about $7 billion, in Europe- more than $1 billion. By profitable side of this business it's close to illegal drug-trafficking.

There is every reason to believe that this illegal migration from the developing countries of the "South" to the high income countries of the "North" (including Australia) will intensify in the coming decades if present policies continue. The more increasing diversity between ‘South' and ‘North' cause a real gap in developed and less developed countries.

The issue of illegal migration is relevant for Kazakhstan also and Central Asia in general. As for the migration policy initiatives undertaken in the framework of CIS, CSTO, researching European way of solving the problem, will, eventually, be useful to elaborate the best suitable way to meet the challenges facing the region.

The Central Asian states are conducting rather negligent policy for asylum-seekers, labour migrants and refugees. These factors stimulate people to search for another way of entering the country. And the huge role of smugglers and traffickers should not be ignored. All these cases created the problem of illegal migration, which is a really burning question of our time. Because it's not only immigration laws and return policies, it's a real dilemma and issue of morality, when rejected asylum-seekers or refugees are not granted the refugee status, they are also illegal. Illegal migration created a lot of contradictions and obscure among the states, involved in it.

At present, the Central Asian states are searching for a proper balance between internal security and external stabilization that is acceptable to all sides. In recent years, the CIS has assumed a greater role in dealing with security concerns within the Central Asia. In response to nation states' decreasing capabilities to deal effectively with problems at the national level, domestic policy fields such as asylum and migration have been at least partially transferred to international responsibility. And illegal migration is emerging as one of the vital issues at the subregional level. Every year, an estimated 30 million people cross an international border illegally, of which, according to the Migration Police of the Republic of Kazakhstan, between 400 000 and 500 000 enter Kazakhstan. The stock of illegal residents in Kazakhstan is currently estimated to be around two million (Migration Police Department, 2008). In recent years, Central Asian states have come to the conclusion that they are no longer able to properly react to the phenomenon of irregular migration on the domestic level and instead need to combine their efforts regarding return policies on regional level. Measures against illegal migration hence, became a focal point in the CIS' efforts to establish an area of security.

Increasingly both policy makers and society are coming to realise that tensions and problems within societies are growing (and will grow) by virtue of the presence of illegal labour migrants.  

In the global scale of migration processes the countries of Eastern Europe and CIS, and Central Asia itself, are emerging as a transit regions. But on a subregional scale, in Central Asia Kazakhstan is a state of transit and origin at the same time. Hence, we can define the following groups of countries:

Origin-transit-destination countries: Kazakhstan

Origin-transit countries: South Asia (Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, India), Central Asian states (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan), China and Mongolia. In the last decades, the illegal route by Caspian sea from Azerbaijan has emerged. The citizens of the abovementioned countries considers the territory of Kazakhstan as a transit way to Russia and Europe.

In the International organization for Migration 2007 Annual report, Central Asia is regarded as the region of transit, with the note that if the main flow of migrants stocks to the West Europe, Baltic states and the USA, illegal migrants from Central Asia follow up to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey or South Korea.

Illegal immigration overall involves different categories as regards the people concerned and the different networks through which they pass before arriving and remaining illegally in Kazakhstan. The people involved are mainly:

  • those who illegally enter the territory of a state either with no documents at all or by using false or forged documents;
  • those who have entered with a valid visa or residence permit but have "overstayed";
  • those whose legal residence becomes illegal when they take up employed activity;
  • those with a residence and work permit who overstay their period of legal residence or violate residence regulations in other ways.

The period of 1992-1997 was characterized by the process of entire migration in the region, taking into account that about 4 million people has changed their place of residence. The main reasons were local military conflicts, the deterioration of economic and social conditions, which eventually forced people to search for more welfare life outside the borders. It should be noted that Russia, being the largest labour market in CIS, is still emerging as the main center of migrants destination since 1999. However, in the last decades, the growing economy growth in Kazakshtan stipulated its' status as migrant destination country, because the labour market in the Republic has become attractive for citizens of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.   

Despite the numerous amount of adopted international treaties, laws and normative acts since 1990's, in general, the juridical basis cannot face the realities of the present time.

The existing problem of illegal migration is considered as a threat for national security. In terms of this suggestion the overall migration policy of the CA states is build on the principles of border control restriction. However, as it was witnessed in practice, frequently the border control restriction is not the most effective way to tackle the problem. Lots of migrants manage to cross the border posts and reach not only Russia-Kazakhstan border, but the western border of the Russia, as well.   

Evaluating the current state of interaction in the field of migration, we can see the following trends:

1. The absence of a common approach to solve the problem in the framework of CIS. We can dare say, that there's no practical interaction between states, apart from adopting declarative documents.

2. The duplication of functions, goals and administrative organs. The fight against illegal migration was stated as one of the main goals both in CIS, CSTO, EurAsEC. In all of these structures the special councils of migration police senior officials are organized. During the summit in Dushanbe the plan of cooperation n migration control between CSTO and EurAsEC was declared. In this connection the role of CIS is obscure.

3. The next sign is that the cooperation will sooner develop between destination countries rather than between destination and donor-countries. Therefore we can positive evaluate only Kazakhstan-Russia cooperation, where the common actions as "Border", "Canal", etc, are being implemented.   

4. The policy of migration control depends on internal national-religious aspect and external relations as well, which leads to some difficulties in migration law restriction. The last time, in media the number of publications on the role of illegals in distribution of xenophobia and extremism are instantly growing. But, according to statistical tabulation, we can see only single facts of that kind. Maybe the purpose is to notice attention to tackle illegal migration and border management. Bur in this case there's a danger of xenophobia in frontier districts.   The distribution of these phenomena in multi confessional, multi ethnic region is a real danger for international security.

So, in the absence of a properly managed mechanism to fight with illegal migration in Central Asia, it's likely to enhance the following tools to control labour migration:

  • elimination of corruption in local migration control bodies
  • adjustment of a special article on criminal responsibility of human traffickers and employers using illegal labour force
  • common actions conduction between involved states
  • the control on migration amount depending on employers request
  • the drafting of a single universal international treaty, which will cover al the aspects of illegal migration
  • preventive measures implementation on internal level.

 

So, the role of regional cooperation on fight against illegal migration is crucial and in this connection the enhancement of cooperation in the framework of CICA (Conference of Interaction and Security building measures in Asia) should become the cornerstone issue in all of the regional organizations. Kazakhstan gaining the chairmanship in OSCE in 2010, could eventually initiate the link between CICA and OSCE to solve the existing intraregional problems more effectively. As it was stated by the President of Kazakhstan Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, CICA should become "an OSCE for Asia", taking into account the growing significance of Asian countries and the non-traditional security threats the states are facing today.

CICA process is unique because it aims to create a meaningful security environment covering the entire continent of Asia through dialogue, cooperation and confidence building measures among the member states. Member States of CICA come from all parts of Asia covering nearly ninety percent of the area and the population of the continent, are the resource for a real potential to deepen the cooperation.

Member States also realized that in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of making Asia a region of peace and security, it is necessary that CICA should have active cooperation with other Asian regional and sub-regional organizations and fora. A two pronged strategy has been adopted for this purpose. On one side, CICA is on way to establish institutional level relationship with other regional organizations. On the other hand, CICA will be organizing a Conference of all the Asian regional and sub-regional organizations and fora in April-May 2009 to discuss Asian security challenges at the time of globalization, interaction between regional entities as well as other issues.

Apart from this CICA has also considered the issue of interaction with NGOs. This is exactly the field where the knowledge and experience of the participants of today's conference can be applied. This direction has a very promising future.

 

Based on the conclusions, the following policy-related recommendations can be given:

  • Continue efforts to prevent unauthorized entry through smarter border and entry controls. This element must include extending and tightening visa requirements, establishing increasingly substantial carrier sanctions for the transportation of improperly documented passengers, and making even greater investments in physical, electronic, and human controls at the borders. It must also incorporate more aggressive initiatives such as insisting that states identified as weak links in the effort against organized unauthorized migration accept ‘targeted technical assistance' (which may include the stationing of immigration officers at their main ports of exit) and pursuing agreements with source countries to take back their illegally resident nationals.
  • Develop and implement smarter interior controls that focus on organized rings, immigrants that commit crimes, and "bad" employers. No state has been effective in their interior control efforts against illegal immigration. Improving the payoff from this response entails three elements. The first, interior enforcement, requires intense cooperation and coordination among a variety of police and police-like branches in agencies with enforcement mandates (such as labor, tax revenue and social welfare ministries). The formation of multi-agency task forces focusing particularly on organized criminal activity that relates to illegal immigration must receive increasing attention, as is giving enforcement agencies such additional legal powers as asset-seizure authority so that they can confiscate the property and other resources of those that engage in trafficking. The second element focuses on holding employers liable for habitually employing those who are not authorized to work and for exploiting them. The likelihood that such hires are often used to skirt employer responsibility toward their required social contributions, and may also violate other fundamental social, human, and labor rights, provides additional enforcement incentives while placing non-complying employers under multiple moral and legal hazards that may be more difficult for them to ignore. The third element targets unauthorized workers themselves with a system of penalties that combine forms of "asset forfeiture" (in the form of substantial fines) with incarceration for repeat offenders. (Only Japan currently uses this extreme enforcement tool.)
  • Strengthen and tap into the resources of the intelligence community far more systematically. This response relies on intelligence resources to disrupt and dismantle organized criminal trafficking networks. Among its tools are classic police tactics, such as the use of informants and the penetration of criminal networks by undercover officers, and greater international cooperation among intelligence agencies. Understanding better how the various networks are organized and relate to each other, their infrastructure and resource bases, their routes and support systems, and their "clients" at destination must become priorities. Furthermore, it cannot be pursued effectively by intelligence-heavy law enforcement in a single country alone; it requires the cooperation of other targeted countries, as well as of sending and transit countries.
  • Invest much greater amounts of diplomatic capital in strategies to contain organized forms of clandestine migration. The thrust of this response is to engage key sending and transit states in truly bilateral negotiations, offering items of high interest to them in exchange for their "organic" cooperation in a common front against organised forms of illegal migration. This foreign-policy/diplomacy-heavy response should also pursue the more robust implementation of the UN Convention against trafficking and the development of regional mechanisms for addressing asylum.

It's a vital issue to see if conditions can be improved locally so that there will be no need for people to seek a better and safer life outside their home country. Political, human rights and development issues in countries of origin and transit must be tackled. This requires combating poverty, improving living conditions and job opportunities, preventing conflicts, consolidating democratic states and ensuring respect for human rights, in particular the rights of minorities, and of women and children.  Some processes are much easier to stop or reverse in their early stages before they have become established, and this is an important characteristic of illegal migration.

The fact is that globalisation is a reality, one that is gathering pace as we speak, whether we like it or not. The high-speed dynamic of the contemporary world sweeps individuals along in an overwhelming, and often confusing, matrix of interaction, information and exchange. The former PM of Russia, Yevgeny Primakov, said: "We are all the passengers of a single spaceship, called Earth." This is specifically why we need a new conceptual and practical framework that encourages a rational, moderate and sustainable globalisation.

Most of the non-traditional challenges have trans-national linkages aided by the ease of communications and transportation. Illegal human trafficking prosper on account of trans-national linkages. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that both traditional and non-traditional security challenges cannot be addressed in isolation and require collaborative multilateral responses for their resolution. 

 

 
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