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Child Labor Activists Call for Ban on Uzbekistan’s Cotton

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The U.S.-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) has filed a formal complaint with U.S. Customs, demanding a ban on all cotton grown and harvested using forced and child labor in Uzbekistan.

According to the ILRF, up to one-third of the Uzbekistan’s population is forced to pick cotton each fall,  including as many as two million Uzbek children, who are made to leave school. Since 2008, the U.S. has bought over 620 tons of Uzbek-sourced cotton products; in February 2013 alone, an estimated 23 tons of cotton were exported from Uzbekistan to the U.S.

Under the Tariff  Act of 1930, any imports to the U.S. which contain materials made with forced labor are automatically banned; as such, the ILRF is seeking a ban on cotton manufactured in Uzbekistan, including that exported by South Korea’s Daewoo International and Singapore’s Indorama, two of the largest known processors of Uzbek cotton.

“We expect U.S. Customs will conduct a thorough investigation into how cotton from Uzbekistan is escaping detection at U.S. ports of entry,” said the ILRF’s director of policy and legal programs, Brian Campbell, adding the customs must “ban all future imports into the United States.”

Sweden’s H&M, U.S-based retailers The Limited and Eileen Fisher, and Dutch chain  C&A have already boycotted Daewoo’s cotton.

 

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