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Cotton Campaign: Obama, Romney to speak on 'Uzbek slavery'
22
Oct '12
President Obama and Mr. Romney, during the 2012 US Presidential election campaign the world is listening, and the children, women and men exploited in modern-forms of slavery await your leadership. On this Anti-Slavery Day, the Cotton Campaign calls on you to speak out against the modern day slavery used to produce the clothes we wear.

We acknowledge the efforts of the US government to combat modern forms of slavery, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and Global Trafficking in Persons Report. 

 
There remains work to be done. Significantly, President Obama recently issued an Executive Order to build on these efforts by requiring contractors to the US government to assess risks of trafficking in persons in their supply chain and report on actions to ensure against complicity in forced labor and other forms of modern slavery. In addition to the Executive Order, President Obama’s highlighted programs to coalesce stakeholders around ending human trafficking, such as the Made in a Free World Initiative and Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking.
 
Ending state-sponsored forced labor of children and adults in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan should be a high priority within these anti-trafficking efforts, because this continuous and systematic violation of national law and international standards is detrimental to long-term development in this Central Asian country. The need for international leadership was highlighted in the latest assessment by the US Department of Labor, which stated, “In 2011, Uzbekistan made no advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.”
 
In fact, every year the government of Uzbekistan forcibly mobilizes hundreds of thousands of children, teachers, public servants and private sector employees for the manual harvesting of cotton. The Uzbek government requires farmers to grow cotton, and regional governors (hokims) forcibly mobilize adults and children to harvest cotton and meet assigned quotas. The Uzbek government enforces these orders with threats and administrative pressure; detains and harasses Uzbek activists seeking to monitor the situation; denies access to international press; and continues to refuse to allow the International Labour Organisation to monitor the harvest.
 
Employers, workers and government representatives to the ILO2 have repeatedly called on the Uzbek government to accept tripartite ILO monitoring, and the Uzbek government continues to refuse. The UN Human Rights Committee3 and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women4 have echoed the call on the Uzbek government to comply with its commitments to protect citizens of Uzbekistan against forced labor.


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