Last week, unknown assaialants shot and wounded Obidkhon Qori Nazarov, a popular Uzbek imam who had received political asylum in Sweden after fleeing religious persecution in Uzbekistan. This is just another reminder that forced child labor is only one of the myriad human rights problems in Uzbekistan today. Human Rights Watch's annual report provides a brief but comprehensive analysis of the situation. As far as child labor is concerned, HRW writes that:
"Forced child labor in the cotton fields remains a serious concern. The government took no meaningful steps to implement the two International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on child labor, which it ratified in March 2008. Despite repeated requests, it continued to refuse ILO access to monitor the harvest.
The government continues to force 1.5 to 2 million schoolchildren as young as nine-years-old to help with the cotton harvest for two months a year. They live in filthy conditions, contract illnesses, miss school, and work daily from early morning until evening for little to no pay. Hunger, exhaustion, and heat stroke are common.
Human Rights Watch is aware of several cases of authorities harassing activists who tried to document forced child labor. In September authorities detained activists Gulshan Karaeva and Nodir Akhatov while they photographed children forced to pick cotton in the Kashkadarya region.
Also in September, responding to concerns from Human Rights Watch and other groups, the organizers of New York Fashion Week cancelled a show by the president’s daughter, Gulnara Karimova, who serves as Uzbekistan’s permanent representative to the UN and its ambassador to Spain....
The Uzbek government continued to refuse to cooperate with international institutions but faced virtually no consequences for this intransigence. It continues to deny access to all eight UN special procedures that have requested invitations, has failed to comply with recommendations made by various expert bodies, and blocks the ILO from sending independent observers to monitor compliance with the prohibition of forced child labor in the cotton industry."