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Uzbekistan: Cotton Slave Labor Out, Human Rights Ombudsman In?

People picking cotton in 2014. The use of forced labor has been a regular feature of cotton harvests in post-Soviet Uzbekistan, but in mid-September, the Uzbek government recalled school children and state workers from the fields and vowed to end the practice. (Photo: Matthew Goulding via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Just as the annual cotton-picking season entered its most intense phase in mid-September, the government made a surprise announcement to recall students and state workers from the fields.
 
Shortly before midnight on September 21, Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov held a Cabinet meeting in which he instructed officials to implement a government decree, apparently adopted over a month earlier, to put a stop to forced labor for the harvest. Reporting on the news, Tashkent-based website Gazeta.uz quoted directly from the decree.
 
“It is categorically forbidden to forcibly deploy anybody under the age of 18, as well as workers in the educational and health sector, during the 2017 cotton harvest,” the document, approved on August 8, stated.
 

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Uzbekistan: Cotton Slave Labor Out, Human Rights Ombudsman In?

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