Large Scale Forced Labour in 2013 Harvest
In mid-October 2013 the Cotton Campaign released a report on the first month of the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan. the Uzbekistan government continues “to mobilize Uzbek children and adults in one of the largest state-sponsored systems of forced labour in the world.”
“One of the most notable developments of the 2013 cotton production cycle thus far is the extent to which the Uzbek government has tried to create the impression of voluntary work in the cotton fields. In January, authorities added a clause stating consent to help with agricultural work to public-sector employment contracts, making participation in the cotton harvest a condition for employment . Leading up to and during the first month of the harvest, administrators of public institutions required their staff to sign an additional statement of consent prior to sending them to pick cotton.
As a pre-condition for school enrolment, high-school administrators required parents to sign contracts committing their children to pick cotton and required students to sign statements of their “voluntary” participation in the cotton harvest . In both instances, the students and adults affected could only avoid this “voluntary” service to the country by paying costly fees to government officials.” (Review of the first month of the 2013 Cotton Harvest in Uzbekistan by the Cotton Campaign)
Download a copy of the review here.