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.
The 2018 harvest is now finished and as we wait for the overall picture to emerge, cases of exploitation have come to our attention. Civil society monitors have reported teachers and healthcare professionals coerced into collecting cotton during the harvest. In December 2018, the tragic death of 24-year-old Sohibjon Mutalibov brought to light that his employer, Uzbek-Spanish company Ammofos-Maxam, forcibly sent their workers to the fields in last year’s harvest.
Yet despite two years of documented proof showing forced labor continues on World Bankproject sites, particularly in the poor and vulnerable region of Karakalpakstan, the World Bank has not suspended its loans.