Cotton Campaign urges continued Uzbek action
A number of organisations have written to US Secretary of State John Kerry to urge continued action against the government of Uzbekistan over its forced labour record.
Under the aegis of the Cotton Campaign, the groups, including the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) want Kerry to keep Uzbekistan at Tier 3 level in the imminent 2015 Global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, published by the State Department.
Uzbekistan was given Tier 3 status in the previous two reports, which the AAFA and others believe led the government to "significantly reduce" its use of forced child labour, also signing a framework agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO).
But the letter argues that "the core of the state-orchestrated forced labour system remains unaltered".
It says farmers are forced to meet state quotas for cotton production, leading more than 1m Uzbek citizens to be forced to work in the cotton fields.
Adult forced labour has been increased to make up for the lack of children in the labour force, with knock-on effects on health and education.
"Because the government of Uzbekistan is not only failing to end forced labour, but is in fact the driving force behind its mass use, Tier 3 is the only appropriate placement for Uzbekistan in the 2015 TIP Report," the letter concludes.
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