New Report on Forced Labor in Uzbekistan Cotton Harvest Released by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights
The Government’s Riches, the People’s Burden: Human Rights Violations in Uzbekistan’s 2014 Cotton Harvest, a new report from the Uzbek-German Forum For Human Rights finds that although the Uzbekistan government did not systematically mobilize children throughout the country to pick cotton, as it had in previous years, it still forced more than a million of its own citizens to pick cotton, and officials extorted individuals and businesses, including multinational companies, at a larger scale as part of the annual Uzbek cotton harvest.
The study of the 2014 cotton harvest also found an unprecedented degree of extortion of individuals and businesses that fueled the forced labor system, including keeping people in fields even though there is no more cotton to pick so people are still forced to pay fees for food and board, etc., and setting unattainable quotas so people had to pay to make up deficits.
“The scope of the bribery is simply astounding,” said Umida Niyazova, UGF director. “At all levels of government, officials take their cut, and Uzbek citizens, particularly public sector workers are forced to pay or pick cotton through intimidation and fear.”