The Expert Working Group, a collection of young human rights activists in the country, participated in the 98th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in New York, and has just posted this account of the review session on 11-12 March. Akmal Saidov, the government's representative and head of the "National Human Rights Institute" (at one time created and richly funded by the UNDP, btw) had this to say (my translation from the Russian):
Assertions that forced child labor is used to harvest cotton have no basis in fact...Not long ago, Uzbekistan halted sales of cotton to the US and to other European countries. We used to sell cotton through the Liverpool cotton exchange, but at the present time we sell cotton through the Tashkent cotton exchange. Of course this does not suit those trading companies that used to buy Uzbek cotton. Accusations on the use of forced child labor are part of their massive misinformation campaign. This is an instrument of unfair economic and trade competition. Moreover, cotton is grown by farmers, and the government doesn’t meddle in their activity.
There are so many different lies and distortions here, one hardly knows where to begin. What is notable though is that Saidov didn't try the usual tactic: it's family-driven, on family farms, and besides we have laws, committees, etc. Rather--just total denial. Even though the HRC (not to mention the Committee on the Rights of the Child) has been questioning them on the issue for 5 years now. It's a stance likely to frustrate those international organizations that are trying to make progress working the inside track with Uzbekistan. It certainly doesn't help to justify their "quiet diplomacy" approach.