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Mon Jan 28, 2013, 04:18 AM

Uzbekistan: Forced Labor Widespread in Cotton Harvest

Uzbekistan: Forced Labor Widespread in Cotton Harvest
More Adults, Older Children Required to Work, Abuses Persist
January 26, 2013

(Berlin) – Uzbek authorities have increased the use of forced labor by adults and older children in the cotton sector during the past year, Human Rights Watch said today. The move was apparently made to shift the burden away from younger children in response to public scrutiny and international pressure.

For the 2012 harvest, the Uzbek government forced over a million of its own citizens, children and adults – including its teachers, doctors, and nurses – to harvest cotton in abusive conditions on threat of punishment, Human Rights Watch found. The authorities harassed local activists and journalists who tried to report on the issue. In 2011, Uzbekistan was the world’s fifth largest exporter of cotton.

“The issue here is forced labor, plain and simple” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Forcing more older children and adults to work in the cotton fields to replace some younger children, does not change the fact that Uzbekistan is forcing a million of its people to labor in these fields involuntarily every year at harvest season.”

It is widely acknowledged that the Uzbekgovernment has longrelied on forced labor, including of children as young as nine, to pick cotton produced for export. In 2012, the burden was shifted somewhat to older children and adults, according to cotton workers, independent activists, and local rights groups across Uzbekistan who spoke with Human Rights Watch.Uzbek authorities refused to allow international monitors into the country for the fourth year in a row, and arrested and intimidated local activists and independent journalists who attempted to report on the forced labor situation. The Uzbek authorities should stop using forced labor and stop harassing journalists and advocates who report about it.

More:
http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/01/25/uzbekistan-forced-labor-widespread-cotton-harvest









Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, and his American friends.

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