PRESS RELEASE: Child Labor Coalition Applauds State Department Downgrade of Uzbekistan in the Trafficking-in-Persons Report

For immediate release: June 25, 2013
Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,

On June 19 the US placed Uzbekistan in the lowest rank in the Global Trafficking in Persons Report for failing to end forced labor, forced child labor, and curb human trafficking in 2012
(Washington) –The 30-member Child Labor Coalition (CLC) applauds the Department of State’s decision June 19th to downgrade Uzbekistan to Tier 3 in the Global Trafficking in Persons Report (J/TIP) ranking system. The report is an annual assessment of human trafficking around the world and the efforts of individual governments to combat it. Uzbekistan has been the focus of advocacy by the Child Labor Coalition and the Cotton Campaign because of widespread forced labor of adults and children to harvest the nation’s cotton crop.

“State-demanded forced labor of children and adults to harvest cotton each fall in Uzbekistan has long-been a grave concern,” noted CLC co-chair Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League. “By moving Uzbekistan to Tier III, the US government is telling the world that Uzbek leaders need to confront and remedy their use of forced adult and child labor immediately, and they must open their cotton harvest to International Labour Organization (ILO) monitoring to ensure that workers are laboring willingly.”

“We urge the Uzbek government to follow the recommendation of the tripartite ILO, and reiterated by the United States in this report, to invite a high-level ILO mission to monitor the fall harvest by August 1,” said Dr. Lorretta Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers. “Delays would result in another year in which more than a million children and adults are forced to pick cotton and present a strong argument for the U.S. to proceed with sanctions, as provided for in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.”

“Although we saw a reduction in very young children forced to harvest cotton last year, we also saw an increase in the number of older teens aged 15 to 17, who were forced to pick cotton,” noted Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum and the chair of the CLC’s International Issues Committee. “We are still receiving reports about the sporadic use of young children in the cotton fields; the work is arduous and conducted under extremely taxing conditions.”

In addition to teens and colleges students, government employees – including teachers, doctors, nurses, and soldiers – and private business employees are forced to pick cotton under threat of dismissal from work, the loss of salary, pensions and welfare benefits, notes the Cotton Campaign.

More than 130 garment manufacturers have signed a pledge that they will “commit to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of our products until the Government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced child or adult labor in its cotton sector.”



Child Domestic Servants

According to an ILO report in 2013, 10.5 million children work as domestic servants around the world.


Child Labor Coalition Press Release: The CLC Welcomes the Reintroduction of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE Act)

For immediate release: June 17, 2013
Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,

Washington, D.C.—The Child Labor Coalition (CLC) applauds Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) for introducing the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE), H.R. 2342, on World Day Against Child Labor, June 12th. The legislation would close loopholes that permit children in agriculture to work for wages when they are only age 12 or 13–and sometimes even younger. The bill would also limit hazardous work on farms by workers under the age of 18.

“Agriculture is the only industry governed by labor laws that allow children as young as 12 to work with virtually no restrictions on the number of hours they spend in the fields outside of the school day,” Rep. Roybal-Allard said in a press release this week.  “We need this legislation because we know that agriculture is one of this country’s most dangerous occupations.”

“Children working for wages on farms are exposed to many hazards—farm machinery, heat stroke, and pesticides among them—and they perform back-breaking labor that no child should have to experience,” said CLC co-chair Sally Greenberg, the executive director of the National Consumers League, a consumer advocacy organization that has worked to eliminate abusive child labor since its founding in 1899. “Child farmworkers deserve the same protections that all other American kids enjoy. We applaud Rep. Roybal-Allard’s leadership in introducing CARE.”

AFT Secretary-Treasurer and CLC Co-Chair Lorretta Johnson added that child labor and migration have a profound impact on the education of child farmworkers. “Fifty percent of children who regularly work on farms will not graduate from high school. That is unacceptable,” said Johnson. “Until all children, regardless of where they are born, have the same opportunity to receive an education, we will continue advocating and fighting on their behalf.

“In the U.S., approximately 400,000 children are picking the very fruits and vegetables we eat today for low pay and with few protections,” said Norma Flores López, Director of the Children in the Fields Campaign at the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) and Chair of the CLC Domestic Issues Committee. “Through the protections offered by the CARE Act, we will ensure that farmworker children can break the cycle of poverty by providing them with healthy, happy childhoods.”

“For too long, children laboring in U.S. agriculture have been denied the protections they deserve to ensure their health and well-being. Too often, kids working on commercial farms are subjected to dangerous, unhealthy, work that’s detrimental to their education and far too often results in harm or even death. The CARE Act would address this problem and give children working on farms the same protections as children working in other industries,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization.

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International Workers, Employers, Governments Call on Uzbekistan to End Forced Labor, Child Labor

Press release: June 11, 2013

The International Labour Organization supervisory body recommends that the Uzbek government to take urgent and serious action to end forced labour of children and adults in the cotton sector.

(Geneva) – The Government of Uzbekistan should take urgent and significant steps to end systematic forced labour of children and adults in the cotton sector, said workers, employers, and governments from around the world, during the hearing of the International Labour Organization Committee on the Application of Standards. The CAS, the tripartite supervisory body of the ILO tasked with assuring that all governments abide by international labour standards, released its conclusions from the hearing today.

“We commend the international representatives of workers, employers and governments for recommending the Uzbek government to invite a high level ILO mission to monitor the 2013 cotton harvest,” said Vasila Inoyatova, Director of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Ezgulik. “Their recommendations respond to the facts, including the deaths of Navruz Muysinov, Igor Yachkevskiy, Aziz Bakhtiyorov, and Umid during the 2012 cotton harvest.”

As highlighted by the German workers and Education International, the state system of forced child labour is serious, systematic and continuous. The Uzbek government has already mobilized children as young as age 10 as well as adults, to plough and weed cotton fields. On April 19, the deputy governor of Namangan region beat seven farmers for planting onions instead of cotton. As was the case during last fall’s cotton harvest, the forced labour of government employees this spring has again disrupted the delivery of essential public services, including health care and education. As an Indonesian worker delegate explained, state-run forced child labour is a major violation of international conventions and results in forced labour cotton products on retail shelves around the world.

During the hearing, Uzbekistan again denied that children worked in the cotton fields in 2012 and remained silent about the existence of adult forced labour. As the International Trade Union Confederation and International Organization of Employers noted, this claim lacks evidence and contradicts the facts presented by independent civil society The IOE also noted that if there were no forced labour in the cotton harvest, then there is no reason for the Uzbek government to refuse independent monitoring by the ILO.

“To demonstrate commitment, the Uzbek government must invite a high level tripartite ILO mission by August 1, in order to monitor the 2013 cotton harvest,” said Joanna Ewart-James. “Delays would result in another year of over a million children and adults forced to pick cotton.”

In a strong statement, the United States delegate stated “The United States Government remains seriously concerned about the systematic and persistent use of forced labor and the worst forms of child labor in cotton production in Uzbekistan,” adding that “we deeply regret that the Government has been resistant to accepting ILO assistance.”

“The Uzbek government needs to accept ILO monitoring that includes participation of independent civil society,” stated Brian Campbell, International Labor Rights Forum. “The participation of Uzbek civil-society organizations is the indicator of the Uzbek government’s commitment to abide by international labour standards.”


For more information, please contact:

In Uzbekistan, for Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Ezgulik, Vasila Inoyatova, +998.97.131.4872, (Uzbek and Russian)

In United States, for International Labor Rights Forum, Brian Campbell, +1.347.266.1351, (English)

In United Kingdom, for Anti-Slavery International, Joanna Ewart-James, +44.7957.426524, (English and French)

In Germany, for Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, Umida Niyazova, +49-17687-532684, (English, Russian, Uzbek)

In France, for Association Human Rights in Central Asia, Nadejda Atayeva, +33.61.746.1963,, (Uzbek, Russian, French)