Ulster University and the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights has released the first sector wide study on corporate integrity in Uzbekistan. The report and associated policy brief focus on the cotton cluster system, a landmark privatisation initiative designed to improve agro-industrial productivity, and address the structural drivers of systematic forced labour in Uzbekistan. State-organised forced labour regimes in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector have attracted significant domestic and international criticism over the past decade.
A new report released today by Uzbek Forum for Human Rights (formerly Uzbek-German Forum / UGF) on the 2019 cotton harvest in Uzbekistan documents both meaningful progress toward ending forced labor and the persistence of government-organized forced labor, said the Cotton Campaign. The report finds that the state-imposed cotton quota, structural labor shortages, the lack of fair and independent recruitment channels, and weak accountability systems contributed to significant ongoing forced labor, including in the newly privatized cotton textile cluster system. Lagging progress on civil society freedoms is also limiting the success of broader reform efforts.
While the ex-chair of Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan refuses to resign, the current leaders of FTUK are being prosecuted and a draft law depriving unions of independence is promoted in the parliament.
Mr President, trade unions, under virtue of ILO Convention 87, ratified by your country in 1992, organise their activities and make their own decisions in line with their internal rules and procedures, free from any interference from state bodies or any other parties. Regretfully, that is not guaranteed in Kyrgyzstan today.
We urge you, as the guarantor of the Constitutional rights of the citizens of Kyrgyzstan, including the right to freedom of association, to act to ensure that the interference in internal trade union affairs by law enforcement agencies and the prosecution and harassment of individual trade union members and leaders will end, as a matter of urgency. We shall inform the ILO and the EU about these violations of trade union rights in the country and will be ready to support a formal complaint of the FPKg and its unions to the ILO as well as engage other available international mechanisms to ensure that freedom of association is respected in the country, in law and in practice.
COVID-19 is threatening the health and the livelihoods of workers globally. COVID-19 will also have major economic and employment impacts. Millions of companies worldwide are in danger of being forced out of business with grave impacts on employment. It will push on liberalisation of workplace legislation and workers’ rights.
Tashkent human rights activists Elena Urlaeva and Solmaz Akhmedova, and activists Karimjon Madazimov and Bekzod Norboev, who live in the Pop district of Namangan region, have been placed under a 14-day compulsory quarantine in their homes since June 8 on suspicion of having Coronavirus. They were given an administrative warning and, in the event of violating quarantine, risk criminal prosecution for failure to observe compulsory isolation.