Regarding the Uzbekistan Textile Protocol
November 14, 2016 at 07:40 AM EST
SOURCE: Source Intelligence®DESCRIPTION:
The European Parliament is currently under pressure to reject the Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and cease the trade of textiles with Uzbekistan. This pressure stems from strong evidence that forced labor and child labor continues to remain a nationwide practice in Uzbekistan, despite earlier reports of compliance.
In 2011, the Uzbekistan Textile Protocol was scheduled to be postponed, due to years of the government of Uzbekistan denying the International Labour Organization (ILO) access to monitor the labor practices of cotton harvests in the country. Soon after the protocol’s postponement, the government agreed to be monitored by the ILO and to work alongside the Decent Work Country Programme to ensure that “the practice of force labor and child labor is effectively in the process of being eradicated at national and local levels...”
However, it seems that instead of working to eradicate forced and child labor, the government of Uzbekistan has been working to conceal it.
The use of forced labor and child labor in Uzbekistan is due to cotton production quotas that local governments are forced to meet. Uzbekistan is one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton. During the first few months of the cotton harvest this year, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to pick cotton in order to meet government quotas. Though child labor has gone down in Uzbekistan, reports show that pressure is starting to fall more heavily upon forced adult labor – as cotton production quotas have not decreased.
International watch groups report that coctors, teachers, and school students all receive threats of dismissal if they don’t report to fields to work. Students in the Kashkadarya, Surkhandarya, Jizzakh and other regions took screenshots of texts they received summoning them to work in fields earlier this year. This practice of forced labor is cleverly masked, as students have to sign voluntary participation forms before they leave.
The government of Uzbekistan has not adhered to the conditions set forth in 2011 by the European Parliament, thus forced labor continues. More than 250 European businesses signed a pledge demonstrating their efforts to avoid purchasing cotton from Uzbekistan. Until the government can ensure that they are dedicated to eradicating the use of forced labor, they will never receive approval from the ILO, and they will continue to lose international business.
Tracking the flow of cotton from countries such as Uzbekistan is challenging, but not impossible. Source Intelligence’s platform utilizes a range of tracking mechanisms and data analysis to develop reports for the apparel industry, as well as other sectors seeking assurances their products do not involve forced or child labor.
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KEYWORDS: Business & Trade, Education, Uzbek Cotton, Uzbekistan Cotton, cotton, Forced labor, slavery, UK Modern Day Slavery Act, Child labor