ILO Mission Report on Uzbekistan
Attached is the disclosure from the International Labor Organization (ILO) [Committee on Application of Standards on Convention No. 182] pertaining to their recent investigation into allegations against Uzbekistan for systematic use of forced child labor in cotton fields. In response to such allegations, ILO conducted a comprehensive monitoring program of cotton harvest covering approximately 40,000 km of area across the country, which was conducted from 11 September to 31 October 2013. ILO has reported the following findings:
1. The monitoring units had full access and undertook unannounced visits across the country. There were no complaints about non-cooperation and the mission cited “good and productive collaboration and cooperation on the part of the national and local authorities in Uzbekistan”.
2. ILO’s final mission report states systematic child labor was not found in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest.
3. There were cases of children between the ages of 16-17 found picking cotton in two of eight zones, however these cases were against national instructions and laws prohibiting children under the age of 18 to harvest cotton. For the aforementioned cases, authorities took follow-up action including assisting the children back to school and in some cases reprimanding, warning, and penalizing farmers and the persons responsible.
In closing, ILO complimented the Uzbek Government for their collaboration and noted positive political will to address allegations of forced labor and cited significant progress towards the full application of the ILO Convention No. 182.
We believe ILO’s report is a major positive step to dispel allegations of state sponsored use of child labor by Uzbekistan in cotton fields. In the meantime, the Government of Uzbekistan continues to engage with ILO on addressing such allegations and continues to take further actions and measures against such practices, which are illegal by law.