The State Department’s annual TIP Report placed Uzbekistan in the lowest category, Tier 3, in 2013, and maintained the placement in 2014. Tier 3 is reserved for governments that do not comply with minimum standards to combat human trafficking and fail to take adequate steps to address the problem, and it carries the possibility of sanctions.
In 2014, the government of Uzbekistan not only failed to make serious progress to curb forced labor during the 2014 cotton harvest but continued to organize, orchestrate and benefit from it. The government used coercion to oblige farmers to fulfill production quotas and other citizens to fulfill harvest quotas under threat of penalty. Following international pressure, the government ended the nationwide mobilization of children to harvest cotton in 2014 but increased the forced mobilization of adults to compensate. Authorities suppressed any attempts by citizens to report on these abuses, sustained the policies that drive forced labor, and continued to deny the use of forced labor.
Therefore, the only appropriate ranking for Uzbekistan in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report remains Tier 3. The Tier 3 ranking would communicate to the Uzbek government that its policy and practice of forced labor is unacceptable and would encourage the Uzbek government to commit to work with the International Labour Organization to apply international conventions prohibiting forced labor.
The Cotton Campaign’s comments to the US government are available here.