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US urged to relegate Uzbekistan over forced labour
06
Feb '16
Courtesy: Cottoncampaign.org
Courtesy: Cottoncampaign.org
The Cotton Campaign, a global coalition of human rights, labor, investor and business organizations dedicated to eradicating child labor and forced labor in cotton production, has urged the US government downgrade Uzbekistan to its lowest level in its upcoming trafficking report in response to the country's continued use of forced labour in cotton harvests.

According to the Cotton Campaign report, the Uzbek government in 2015 not only failed to comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act minimum standards of prohibiting, punishing, deterring and taking serious efforts to eliminate trafficking, but also continued to implement a state policy of forced labour.

“The only appropriate ranking for Uzbekistan in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report is Tier 3. The Tier 3 ranking would communicate to the Uzbek government that its policy and practice of forced labor is unacceptable and encourage the Uzbek government to implement the raft of commitments it has made to apply international conventions prohibiting forced labour,” Cotton Campaign said in its report.

The US apparel and footwear industry has also urged the American government to downgrade Uzbekistan to its lowest level in the trafficking report .

The Cotton Campaign's call to downgrade Uzbekistan has been endorsed by a group of 36 industry associations, brands, and labour and retail groups including the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA).

Cotton Campaign said the government of Uzbekistan continued to organize, orchestrate and benefit from forced labor on a massive scale in 2015. The government used coercion to mobilize farmers to cultivate cotton for the centralized system of production; those who failed to comply were penalized.

The report went on to say that the Uzbek government remained complicit in limited instances of forced child labour for cotton production in 2015.

The state forced-labour system resulted in deaths and undermined health care and education services and businesses, the report said.

According to Cotton Campaign, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reaffirmed the existence of forced labor in Uzbekistan's cotton sector.

The Cotton Campaign report also pointed out that the government of Uzbekistan continued human rights violations in the cotton sector despite its engagement with the ILO in 2015. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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