Brian Campbell, ILRF's director of policy and legal programs, testified before the US House of Representative's Foreign Affairs Committee on April 29, 2014, about the continued and systematic forced labor of farmers to cultivate cotton and adults and children to pick cotton by the government of Uzbekistan.
In a year when the tragedies at Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions have spurred both governments and private retailers and apparel brands to take action for a safer Bangladeshi garment industry, retail operations run by the U.S. government have been conspicuously quiet. The U.S. military exchanges use some of the same factories as private retailers and brands to make their own private-label apparel in Bangladesh and operate more than 1,100 retail stores on military installations in all 50 states and more than 30 countries around the world. As large buyers of apparel and as agents of the U.S.
In 2011, Human Rights Watch released a shocking report on how Vietnamese citizens struggling with drug addiction were being beaten, tortured and forced to work in compulsory drug detention centers. Vietnamese officials reacted defensively, dismissing the report as “groundless” and asserting that the drug centers are an effective, humane method of dealing with a growing drug problem.
This year, the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan began in early September and ended in mid-November. The Uzbek government systematically forced farmers to produce state-established quotas and children and adults to pick cotton in one of the largest state-orchestrated systems of forced labour in the world.