The Cotton Campaign says Uzbekistan has “failed to make serious progress” to curb forced labour

The Cotton Campaign says Uzbekistan has “failed to make serious progress” to curb forced labour

Campaigners are urging the US government to maintain pressure on the government of Uzbekistan to improve its record on people trafficking and forced labour.

In evidence to the US State Department, the Cotton Campaign said it should leave Uzbekistan in the lowest possible ranking in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, due for publication in June.

The country was placed in Tier 3 in the 2013 and 2014 reports – a ranking which carries the possibility of sanctions, and one traditionally reserved for governments which do not comply with minimum standards to combat human trafficking and which do not take adequate steps to address the problem.

According to the Cotton Campaign, the Uzbek government “failed to make serious progress” to curb forced labour during the 2014 cotton harvest and, on the contrary, “continued to organise, orchestrate and benefit from it”.

Campaigners concede that the government acceded to international pressure and ended the nationwide mobilisation of children to harvest cotton – but they add that forced mobilisation of adults was increased to compensate for this.

Furthermore, they say that the authorities suppressed any attempts by Uzbek citizens to report on this.

“The Tier 3 ranking would communicate to the Uzbek government that its policy and practice of forced labour is unacceptable and would encourage the Uzbek government to commit to work with the International Labour Organization to apply international conventions prohibiting forced labour,” the Cotton Campaign said.