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