UNICEF supports the Government in strengthening national knowledge on all forms of abuse, exploitation and violence to identify specific areas of child protection that need to be addressed. UNICEF also helps improve planning capacity through the enhancement of data collection, monitoring and impact evaluation; and promoting maximum utilization of gender-sensitive data and information for advocacy, awareness-raising, national policy development and programme interventions. Through these interventions, disaggregated baseline data available on key child protection indicators will be available for future planning purposes. In addition, juvenile justice norms will be aligned with international standards. In the new country programme, UNICEF will work with the National Institute of Democracy and Human Rights (NIDHR) to build local capacity to provide effective community rehabilitation schemes for young offenders and children at risk of coming in conflict with the law. A new approach to child labour issues will focus on advocacy for vocational schooling for youth and monitoring of the child labour situation.
In 2006, the Committee on the Rights of the Child identified several policy and legislative issues necessary for initiating reform to enable the progressive realization of the rights of children in Turkmenistan. This included reform of the juvenile justice system in the country. UNICEF is assisting the government of Turkmenistan in aligning the national legislation on juvenile justice based on the concept prepared in 2009 with international standards. The support, chiefly technical in nature, includes the establishment of a national coordination body, establishment of a pilot model for the juvenile justice system that also incorporates a mechanism for registering complaints of children in the event of violation of their rights. Training, capacity building and ongoing legislative reform are other activities that will receive UNICEF support.
Article 32 of the CRC protects a child from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. The minimum age for employment in Turkmenistan is 16 years while in a few heavy industries it is 18. Children between 16 and 18 are forbidden to work more than 6 hours. Children at 15 may work only with permission of the trade union and parents, provided their work does not interfere with their studies.
In 2005, the Law of Turkmenistan “On the Guarantees of the Rights of Young People to Work” was adopted. This Law aims to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Turkmenistan’s law “On the Guarantees of the Rights of the Child”, Labour Code of Turkmenistan and the UN Conventions regulating protection of the child from economic exploitation through violence, preventing situations which are potentially dangerous for their health or impedimental to receiving education, etc. The Law of Turkmenistan “On the Guarantees of the Rights of Young People to Work” prohibits entering into labour agreements with children under 16 years of age. Article 27 of Turkmenistan’s Law on the Guarantees of the Rights of the Child enacted in 2002 prohibits child involvement in agricultural and other types of work “unless it is linked to learning process". The President of Turkmenistan has repeatedly reminded the local governors of inadmissibility of engaging children in agricultural work. At a cabinet meeting in August 2008, the President declared that children would no longer be drafted to help with the cotton harvest. “This practice is finished, and it’s our job to ensure that there is no case of child labour exploitation from now on,” he said. Turkmenistan’s legislation on child labour has been aligned with Article 2 of the International Convention concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (ILO, June 6, 1973), which stipulates that the “Minimum age … must not be below the age of completion of compulsory school education, and, in any case, must not be below fifteen years of age”. At present, the process of improvement of the legislation on child labour in Turkmenistan is ongoing.
UNICEF has supported the enactment and implementation of these progressive laws through sustained advocacy with the Parliament (Medjlis), and through a series of trainings for advocacy for child’s rights with focus on protection from child exploitation. A study conducted by IKEA in 2009 in collaboration with the State Statistics Committee concluded that these laws are adhered to in practice and that the incidence of child labour in the country has decreased.