UZBEKISTAN: Forced labour “continuing” in 2012 cotton harvest
Governments should take action to help end forced and child labour in the Uzbek cotton fields, according to a new report by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
Based on information gathered by human rights workers in Uzbekistan last autumn, the NGO's review concludes that forced labour continued to be a major factor in the 2012 cotton harvest.
Despite a demographic shift away from using younger children, there was intensified forced labour of adults, a rejection of independent monitoring and increased extraction of financial and other resources from Uzbek citizens by the country’s government, the report finds.
“The government of Uzbekistan made no progress toward ending forced labour of children and adults during the 2012 cotton harvest,” said the Forum.
“While they maintained more schools open for younger children and did not mobilise them on the same massive scale as in the past, forced child labour of high school students increased nationwide; there were incidents of forced child labour of young children; and forced labour of adults increased dramatically.”
It added that the increase in financial extortion during the harvest had been “alarming”.
The Forum called on US and EU governments to withdraw Uzbekistan from the generalised system of preferences (GSP) until the Uzbek government showed that it could meet GSP conditionality to protect fundamental human rights.
Meanwhile, companies, it added, should eliminate Uzbek cotton from their supply chains until reforms were carried out.
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