Suspend loans tainted by Uzbek forced labour - FreedomUnited.org

Suspend bank loans tainted by Uzbek forced labor

Hospital staff in Uzbek cotton fields in World Bank project area.

The World Bank is an institution that provides loans for developing countries. Right now it is providing almost $500 million to Uzbek agriculture projects. Yet Uzbekistan’s cotton industry has historically relied upon state-sanctioned forced labor

Whilst we have seen progress in Uzbekistan following the Uzbek Prime Minister’s announcement in September 2017 that the mobilization of students, teachers and healthcare workers would be halted “forever”, an estimated 336,000 people were forced to pick cotton during that harvest according to the UN’s International Labour Organization. So why has the World Bank not taken action?

The 2018 harvest is now finished and as we wait for the overall picture to emerge, cases of exploitation have come to our attention. Civil society monitors have reported teachers and healthcare professionals coerced into collecting cotton during the harvest. In December 2018, the tragic death of 24-year-old Sohibjon Mutalibov brought to light that his employer, Uzbek-Spanish company Ammofos-Maxam, forcibly sent their workers to the fields in last year’s harvest.

Yet despite two years of documented proof showing forced labor continues on World Bank project sites, particularly in the poor and vulnerable region of Karakalpakstan, the World Bank has not suspended its loans.

Send a message to the World Bank President David Malpass now that the Bank must cease these loans to support state-administered forced labor in Uzbekistan!

Watch the video to learn more about Sohibjon’s death:

  • COVID-19 Update: Uzbek authorities have used the pandemic as an excuse to silence human rights monitors, like Elena Urlaeva. Recently, regional officials forcibly tested Elena for COVID-19 and placed her into compulsory isolation at homeDonate here to help Elena secure legal advice. 

  • February 7, 2020: A new ILO report has found that Uzbekistan is making great strides toward ending forced labor in its cotton industry, but it’s important to note that the problem is far from solved. More work is needed to ensure sustainable change. Read more here.

  • September 23, 2019: Uzbekistan’s annual harvest is getting underway, but yet again reports of forced labor are emerging. Members of the public report being made to sign agreements that they are “volunteering to join the harvest campaign to help out the farmers.” Read more…

  • December 2018: The World Bank continues to fund projects despite reports that, although there was a significant reduction, thousands of workers were still forcibly mobilised to bring in the recent 2018 harvest. Cases of exploitation are emerging such as the recent murder of 24-year-old Sohibjon Mutalibov – WATCH VIDEO to learn more.

  • September 2017:  The President of Uzbekistan met with the World Bank President the day after addressing forced labor for the first time on the international stage at the UN General Assembly on September 19. Two days later on September 21, the Uzbek Prime Minister announced that the mobilization of students, teachers and healthcare workers would be halted “forever”. Read our news story.

  • Sep 30, 2015: Campaign Launches

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