Earlier this month, the International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts published a report of its most recent deliberations, including its review of the child labor situation in Uzbekistan. The Committee cited a consensus of UN bodies, workers' and employers' organizations and NGOs regarding the scope of the child labor problem in Uzbekistan and published a summary of the conclusions from UNICEF's effort to observe the 2011 cotton harvest in Uzbekistan. This was our first chance to see anything of the report, which UNICEF does not make public. According to the Committee, UNICEF concluded that:
"children aged 11–17 years old have been observed working full time in the cotton fields across the country; the mobilization of children has been organized by way of instructions passed through Khokimyats (local administration), whereby farmers are given quotas to meet and children are mobilized by means of the education system in order to help meet these quotas; ... in over a third of the fields visited, children stated that they were not receiving the money themselves; quotas for the amount of cotton children were expected to pick generally ranged between 20–50 kilos per day; the overwhelming majority of children observed were working a full day in the field and as a result, were missing their regular classes; children worked long hours in extremely hot weather; pesticides were used on the cotton crop that children spent hours hand picking; some children reported that they had not been allowed to seek medical attention even though they were sick..."
In light of the consensus about the widespread nature of forced child labor in Uzbekistan, the Committee reported that it "must express its serious concern regarding the [Uzbek] Government’s continued insistence that children are not involved in the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan." The Committee called on the authorities in Tashkent "to take immediate and effective time-bound measures to eradicate the forced labour of, or hazardous work by, children under 18 years in cotton production, as a matter of urgency" and reiterated previous ILO calls for the Uzbek government to accept an ILO monitoring mission during this year's upcoming harvest, calls that Tashkent has consistently rejected in the past.