Obama Administration Waives Human Rights Sanctions on Uzbekistan Despite Lack of Progress on Child Labor, Other Human Rights Problems
On January 18, Secretary of State Clinton exercised the authority Congress granted the Administration late last year to waive human rights-related sanctions on the provision of security assistance to Uzbekistan. You can watch State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland explain the decision. Asked if it represented a “free pass” to the Uzbek government on its atrocious human rights record, Nuland rejected the notion, saying that Secretary Clinton had discussed U.S. concerns with President Karimov during a recent visit to Tashkent.
Nuland went on to say that in Dushanbe the day before that meeting, the Secretary spoke out in public about U.S. concerns regarding the human rights situation in Tajikistan. What Nuland didn’t say was that Mrs. Clinton made NO such public remarks while in Uzbekistan.
The State Department justified invoking the waiver as being in the U.S. national interest, apparently because of the need to grease the skids for greater Uzbek government cooperation with the Northern Distribution Network, which is now the only over-ground route the U.S. has to bring supplies to troops in Afghanistan. We can’t say for sure, however, because the justification Clinton sent to Congress was classified. It did come with an unclassified – and Congressionally-mandated – analysis of human rights conditions in Uzbekistan. According to that analysis, the use of forced adult and child labor remains systematic during Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest, when “many thousands of schoolchildren, university students, and teachers, among others, are required to work in the fields as a result of government mobilization.”