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No Uyghur justice in the U.K.

  • Published on
    January 23, 2023
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  • Category:
    Forced Labor, Law & Policy
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Freedom United partner organization, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), has disappointingly lost the legal challenge it brought against the U.K. authorities for failing to investigate cotton imports linked to forced labor from China’s Uyghur Region.

An unlawful failure

WUC claims that these official bodies have commuted an unlawful failure, or refusal to investigate imports from the Uyghur Region. China’s Uyghur Region is claimed to be home to 380 internment camps used to detain Uyghurs and people from other Muslim minorities.

Reportedly, 85% of Chinese cotton was grown in the Uyghur Region, an area that has long been known as a home to manufacturing facilities that linked to forced labor.

Disappointingly, WUC lost their legal challenge.

The Guardian reports:

On Friday, Mr Justice Dove ruled against the WUC. He accepted the government’s argument that the WUC had not proved that a specific consignment of cotton imported into the UK was the product of unlawful conduct. In his written judgment, the judge further said that for UK companies to be prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act, it would have to be shown that “the consignment had been purchased for significantly less than its value”.

While this denial of action comes as a great disappointment, it is the start of a long and hopeful road for the Uyghur people, a road to accountability, and hopefully fair treatment.

The defense was based mostly on the technicality that there was no proof of a crime being committed, only evidence that there was a “chance that a crime had been committed”. The defense held that there was not sufficient evidence to substantiate convictions for any crimes.

Sending a negative message

Gearóid Ó Cuinn, told the Guardian that a ruling like this could send a negative message, one of no consequence to unscrupulous business. While the negative ramifications are painfully obvious, the movement isn’t giving up. Ó Cuinn also noted:

“The outcome of the case does not in any way undermine the striking consensus in the evidence that there are clear and widespread abuses in the cotton industry in the XUAR, involving human rights violations and the exploitation of forced labour.”

Join the movement!

Freedom United and over 280 organizations, led front and center by survivors and families of current detainees, are calling on the Chinese government to close its camps and set these people free.

Join the campaign today.

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