Uzbekistan: government decree to eradicate forced labor in the country

TASHKENT (TCA) — The government of Uzbekistan has issued a decree aimed at completely ending the practice of forced labor in the Central Asian country, RFE/RL reported.

Uzbekistan, one of the world’s leading cotton exporters, for years has mobilized students as well as staff at schools and medical clinics and hospitals to pick cotton. It reportedly stopped using minors in 2015 under international pressure that included boycott campaigns.

Issued on May 10, the decree says that state employees, including teachers and doctors, as well as students at state-run schools, cannot be ordered to perform tasks such as cleaning streets or picking cotton, a common practice in Uzbekistan.

The decree also orders state agencies, including the Prosecutor-General’s Office and Labor Ministry, to take all necessary measures to prevent the practice.

President Shavkat Mirziyoev has promised reform following more than two decades of repressive rule under Islam Karimov, whose death was reported on September 2, 2016.

Mirziyoev used his UN General Assembly speech in September 2017 to address the problem of forced labor in Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is the fifth-largest cotton producer in the world. It exports about 60 percent of its raw cotton to China, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Iran. Uzbekistan’s cotton industry generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, or about one-quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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