By admin       2018-09-10

Washington – The Cotton Campaign has asserted that Uzbekistan should remain on the list of products requiring U.S. federal contractor certification regarding forced or indentured child labor. The entity is an international coalition of non-governmental organizations, trade unions, apparel brands and investors. The organization sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor’s deputy undersecretary for international affairs, Martha E. Newton, opposing the department’s recent notice that it has made an “initial determination” to remove cotton from Uzbekistan from the list. The original list was created by Executive Order 13126, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1999. “As you know, in recent years the government of Uzbekistan, due in part to pressure from the U.S. government and civil society, has made major strides towards ending forced child labor during the annual cotton harvest,” the letter said. “We are also encouraged by president of Uzbekistan’s public acknowledgement of the scale of the forced labor problem and commitment to adopting the reforms required to end the practice.” Shavkat Mirziyoyev has served as Uzbekistan’s president since 2016. “However, despite the progress, cases of forced child labor still occurred during the 2017 harvest and local school administrators and teachers remained under intense pressure to force children into the fields to meet their annual cotton quotas,” the letter continued. “We therefore believe that it would be premature to remove cotton from Uzbekistan from the EO13126 list until it can be verified that the Uzbek government has followed through on its promise to enact fundamental reforms to eliminate the drivers of forced child labor, particularly subjecting public school officials to production quotas.” Given the findings that forced child labor is still being implemented, the letter added that it is “crucial” to monitor Uzbekistan’s 2018 cotton harvest “to ensure that the Uzbek government’s high-level commitment to eradicate forced child labor is consistently implemented on the ground.

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