The Cotton Campaign hosted the first-ever, high-level delegation of Uzbek government officials to join its annual strategy meeting on February 4 at a pivotal time for reform to end forced labor in Uzbekistan. Building on discussions in May 2018, when a Cotton Campaign delegation visited Tashkent, the two sides agreed on broad areas of further progress that are necessary to achieve lasting reform. The Cotton Campaign and the Government of Uzbekistan also agreed to intensify direct dialogue in 2019 in order to encourage and accelerate the progress of reform.
Nurses and teachers in Uzbekistan are being forced by officials to clean streets, plant trees and harvest wheat or face the sack, fines or pay cuts, despite a government drive to end state-imposed work, labor rights groups said on Thursday.
The production and harvesting of cotton in Turkmenistan remains heavily reliant on a system of forced labor despite the use of mechanical cotton harvesters on some farms and attempts by local authorities to prevent the use of child labor in the cotton fields. Farmers put the problem down to the rigidly centralized agricultural system. It’s the government that tells the farmers what to grow; it’s the government that provides seeds, fertilizers and other supplies. The state even sets dates for the start and finish of the cotton harvest, instead of allowing farmers to decide for themselves when the crop is actually ready.
This submission is for consideration during the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ review Kazakhstan. It focuses on the crackdown on the independent trade union movement and attacks on workers’ rights; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; the protection of students, teachers, and schools in situations of armed conflict; and inclusive education in Kazakhstan.
A rural development program has been in effect in Turkmenistan since 2007. The state media have given it a variety of names over the past 12 years: “the regional development program,” “the village reform program” and simply “the reform program.” It’s not in the public domain but is often referred to in the media and appears extremely significant from the volume of investment alone.
The World Bank is an institution that provides loans for developing countries. Right now it is providing almost $500 million to Uzbek agriculture projects. Yet Uzbekistan’s cotton industry has historically relied upon state-sanctioned forced labor.