US State Department report on trafficking gives failing marks to Russia, Uzbekistan & Iran, noting prevalence of forced labour
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Author: Heather Maher, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Uzbekistan and Russia have received the lowest possible rating from the U.S. State Department in its annual report on human trafficking around the world...[a]long with Iran...Secretary of State John Kerry said ..."we're going to keep engaging with governments on this issue, because modern-day slavery affects every country in the world...every government is responsible for dealing with it, and no government is yet doing enough."...[S]ome 1 million people in [Russia] are exposed to "exploitative" labor conditions, including the withholding of documents, nonpayment for services, physical abuse, and extremely poor living conditions... In Uzbekistan...internal labor trafficking remains prevalent during the annual cotton harvest, in which children and adults are victims of government-organized forced labor... Internal trafficking of children is rife in Afghanistan, said the report, which documents their forced labor in the brick- and carpet-making industries, as domestic servants, beggars, sex slaves, and drug mules.
Author: US Department of State
When we help countries to prosecute traffickers, we are strengthening the rule of law. When we bring victims out of exploitation, we are helping to create more stable and productive communities. When we stop this crime from happening in the first place, we are preventing the abuse of those who are victimized as well as the ripple effect that caused damage throughout communities into our broader environment and which corrupt our global supply chains. We all have an interest in stopping this crime. That’s why President Obama is so focused on this issue. And that’s why, as Secretary of State, I will continue to make the fight against modern-day slavery a priority for this Department and for the country."...The 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report report is available in PDF and HTML formats.
[PDF] [Cotton Campaign letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on 2013 Global Trafficking in Persons Report]
Author: Cotton Campaign
While many governments fail to effectively curb human trafficking, the Uzbek government organizes, orchestrates and benefits from forced labor on a massive scale. The State Department’s decision to downgrade Uzbekistan to Tier 3 is well-justified and an important step in international efforts to persuade the government in Tashkent to change its practices. While these efforts have had some effect, more pressure is still needed. At a minimum, Tashkent must invite a high-level International Labour Organization tripartite observer mission to monitor this fall’s harvest...If Tashkent fails to invite the ILO prior to the fall harvest, the State Department should examine options for applying sanctions available under the TVPA for Tier 3 countries...In light of increased participation of private-sector employees who are Uzbek nationals in the state-sponsored forced labor system in recent years, we urge U.S. officials to stress to American companies operating in Uzbekistan the importance of fulfilling their due diligence requirements with respect to human rights. [Industry signatories include: Aeropostale, American Apparel and Footwear Association, Aquinas Associates, Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert, Eileen Fisher, Fifth & Pacific, National Retail Federation, Pax World Mutual Funds, Retail Industry Leaders Association, US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, Walden Asset Management]