Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoev threatened to punish khokims making use of child labour during the cotton harvest

On July 28, during the national selector meeting, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev demanded to prevent the use of child labour during the cotton harvest this year. According to Radio Ozodlik which referred to the testimony of a participant of the meeting, Mirzijaev said that cotton would be harvested by workers from public organisations and farm employees only.

“In a very angry tone, the Prime Minister turned to the regional and district khokims: “Each of you will have to pay with their head for the use of child labour. Start to create lists and register all people who will pick cotton. It is necessary to resolve this issue before the holiday. (On September 1, Independence Day is celebrated in Uzbekistan). If I see one child on the field, you will be punished”, one of the participants told Radio Ozodlik.

In early July, UGF received a letter from a farmer who told that the state required farmers to sign an amendment to their contracts. The amendment stipulates that the farmers accept the obligation to comply with national laws and ILO Conventions on child labour and forced labour when recruiting workers.

However, the main organisers of forced labour in Uzbekistan are not farmers but local administrators who instruct the directors of all public organisations to mobilise their employees to help on the cotton fields. As a rule, employees of state budget organisations agree to pick cotton because of the threat of losing their jobs.