Uzbekistan: The International Labour Organization (ILO) has confirmed forced labour in Uzbekistan during 2016 cotton harvest season. The ILO found that “sustainable elimination of the risk of child and forced labour remains a prominent issue” in Uzbekistan. The ILO report adds that out of total 2.8 million cotton pickers involved in annual cotton harvest one third of them were “non-voluntary”.
The figure is in line with Cotton Campaign estimates of the size of the population of forced labourers. Many of the ILO’s findings on forced labour correspond to evidence collected by independent Uzbek monitors on the ground.
ILO’s observation came in the backdrop of Cotton Campaign report. It monitored labour conditions during 2016 harvest season in Uzbekistan which starts from September and ends on November.
According to Cotton Campaign report, Government of Uzbekistan forces over a million citizens to harvest cotton annually in often abusive conditions under threat of punishment.
Forced labour and child labour in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan is unique to the world: it is a state-controlled system, under the direction of a president in power since the end of the Soviet Union, which violates the fundamental rights of millions of Uzbek citizens each year.