Coalition of Unions, Retailers, Human Rights Groups Appeal to Clinton on Failure to Downgrade Uzbekistan

Posted on June 28, 2011 by | 1 comment

Secretary of State Clinton speaking at release of G-TIP report June 27, 2011

A coalition of unions, retailers, labor and human rights groups have issued an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing concern at the failure to downgrade Uzbekistan to Tier 3 on the US Watchlist in the State Department’s report on Global Trafficking in Persons (G-TIP), released this week. The letter, signed by 18 organizations including the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of Teachers, American Apparel and Footwear Association, Retail Industry Leaders’ Association, the United States Association of Importers of Textile and Apparel (USA-ITA), International Labor Rights Forum, Global Works, Human Rights Watch and others, and questions the US decision to keep Uzbekistan at Tier 2:

We were disappointed to note that despite strong language in the interim report, the annual Trafficking in Persons Report, issued today, fails to downgrade Uzbekistan to Tier 3, despite the clearly documented and egregious nature of the country’s state-sanctioned and widespread use of forced child labor. Representatives from our stakeholder coalition met with Ambassador CdeBaca and his staff on May 26. We understood that in order for a country to remain on the Tier 2 Watch list, the State Department would require credible evidence that the country had a written plan that, if implemented, would demonstrate significant effort and dedication of resources to this problem. In this case, there appears to be no such evidence.

Under the “automatic downgrade” provisions of the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a country that has remained on the Tier 2 Watch List for more than two consecutive years should be automatically lowered to Tier 3. This was not done for Uzbekistan and a number of other US allies for political reasons, which in the case of Uzbekistan, has to do with Tashkent’s cooperation on the Northern Distribution Network to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan went through a flurry of gestures timed to the G-TIP report as well as the review earlier this month at the International Labour Organisation (ILO). But the hastily-created state-organized commissions and declarations against the use of child labour weren’t effective and were even duplicitous in a climate where the state sets cotton harvesting quotas and enforces them through pressure on local administrators and farmers, as the G-TIP report itself explains:

Provincial governors were held personally responsible for ensuring that the quota was met; they in turn passed along this pressure to local officials, who organized and forced school children, university students, faculty, and other government employees to pick cotton.

The coalition noted the recent ruling of the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards issued at the International Labour Conference:

While noting the establishment of a tripartite interministerial working group on 25 March 2011, the Committee observed that the Committee of Experts had already noted the establishment of an earlier interdepartmental working group on 7 June 2010, for on-the-ground monitoring to prevent the use of forced labour by school children during the cotton harvest. It noted with regret the absence of information from the Government on the concrete results of this monitoring, particularly information on the number of children, if any, detected by this interdepartmental working group (or any other national monitoring mechanism) engaged to work during the cotton harvest. In this regard, the Committee regretted to note that the significant progress that had been made regarding economic reform and growth had not been accompanied by corresponding progress with regard to combating the use of children for cotton harvesting.  The Committee expressed its serious concern at the insufficient political will and the lack of transparency of the of the Government to address the issue of forced child labour in cotton harvesting.

Given that the Administration opted not to downgrade Uzbekistan in G-TIP this year, despite failure to progress, the coalition urged Clinton to “make clear to the Uzbek government that full cooperation with the ILO, including acceptance of an ILO mission, is the minimum requirement for it to avoid being downgraded to Tier III in the next Trafficking in Persons report.”

The letter was signed by:

American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA)
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of Teachers
Calvert Investments
Center for Reflection, Education and Action (CREA)
Child Labor Coalition
GlobalWorks Foundation
Human Rights Watch
International Labor Rights Forum
Media Voices for Children
National Consumers League
National Retail Federation
Not for Sale Campaign
Open Society Foundations
Responsible Sourcing Network
Retail Industry Leaders’ Association
Solidarity Center
United States Association of Importers of Textile and Apparel (USA-ITA)

Full text:  Letter to Secretary Clinton on Uzbekistan


One Response to “Coalition of Unions, Retailers, Human Rights Groups Appeal to Clinton on Failure to Downgrade Uzbekistan”

  1. cybertruth
    July 8th, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    Earlier on I read the article “US G-TIP Policy on Uzbekistan Sparks Conservative Critique” by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick on this site
    And even with greater interest I read the article, to which Catherine’s article was a response – a big 2-part article posted under the name of Umida Hashimova on Jamestown Foundation site “US Repeats Policy Mistakes In Uzbekistan”.
    The Board of the Jamestown Foundation consists of personas closely related to Pentagon.
    The language of the article repeats Donald Rumsfeld’s rhetoric on Uzbekistan that department of State should not repeat its mistakes and should not anger the president of Uzbekistan on human rights issue and thus threaten the Northern Development Network for Afghanistan:
    Indeed, President of Uzbekistan, one of the most atrocious leaders of the world, is easily angered by the Department of State. When the U.S. free media covered the massacre in Andijan in 2005, he shuttered the U.S. military base in Uzbekistan; and when U.S. Department of State awarded an Uzbek human rights activist in 2009 he sent the U.S. Ambassador home.
    And style of the article “US Repeats Policy Mistakes In Uzbekistan” makes me think that it belongs to James Callahan, a husband of Umida Hashimova.
    Callahan, 62, worked for many years as a head of the United Nations Agency for Organized Crime and Drug Control in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He recently returned to the U.S. with his young wife and a child and works as an Analyst for the Department of State. Umida Hashimova, branded by JTF as “an independent scholar” is a graduate of the 2006 international human rights program of the Essex University and currently works as a Program assistant at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
    Her father, Utkir Hashimov, is an Uzbek writer ( ), whom President Karimov decorated with an Uzbek “Order of Great Merit” in 2001 and since 1995 Hashimov holds a position of the Chair of the Uzbek Parliament committee on press and information, an area, whose condition can well describe the regime as totalitarian. Poet Yusuf Juma, a prisoner of conscience, recently released after serving a long and torturous term in jail, in his publication “Tragedy of the Nation” named Utkir Hashimov among a few other writers “who created Karimov as we know him, and who killed the nation” The other writers are Erkin Vohidov, Abdulla Aripov. They all hold high positions in the regime. Erkin Vokhidov – chair of the Uzbek Parliament committee on international affairs and inter-parliamentary connections; since 2005 – member of the Senate, upper chamber of Parliament, appointed by the President’s Decree
    Abdulla Aripov holds the position of the member of the Senate, higher chamber of the Uzbek Parliament, he held the position of the chair of the writers’ Union of Uzbekistan for 15 years from 1994 to 2009.

    I can’t see in this picture millions of Uzbek schoolchildren enslaved by the regime to pick “the country’s strategic crop”. They are not related to Umida and James, a sweet American-Uzbek couple, not related to glamorous poets entrusted with the harness of freedom of speech and lives of the speakers, they are not related to Pentagon or Department of State. They must be an Uzbek version of the Terracota Army of the Emperor, only live, because THEY PICK THAT COTTON.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.