Uzbek Forum for Human Rights (formerly Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights) is a Berlin-based NGO dedicated to protecting human rights and strengthening and promoting civil society in Uzbekistan. Uzbek Forum has special expertise on labor rights and regularly conducts research in the field of business and human rights.
Umida Niyazova is a director and founder of the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights. She worked as a human rights advocate in Uzbekistan from 2000 – 2008 when she was forced to flee her country because of her work. She has worked in the Tashkent offices of organizations such as Internews Network, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch.
In 2007, Umida was arrested in Tashkent and sentenced to seven years imprisonment on charges of “illegally crossing a border”, “production or distribution of materials that threaten public safety and public order”, and for “smuggling extremist religious materials”. After a widespread outcry and with the support of international organizations, she was finally released after four months in prison.
Since 2009, Uzbek Forum has worked with a network of local human rights activists in Uzbekistan, often working undercover for fear of reprisals by the Uzbek authorities, to expose human rights violations. Uzbek Forum’s network has conducted extensive monitoring of forced and child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton, silk, and public sectors and has compiled the most comprehensive archive of labor rights violations in Uzbekistan.
Uzbek Forum works with a network of local monitors inside the country who have intimate knowledge of their communities and the social and political landscape of Uzbekistan.
Uzbek Forum has published dozens of reports, articles, videos, and podcasts that have informed policymakers, including Uzbek government officials, investors such as the World Bank, international human rights bodies including the UN, and perhaps most importantly, Uzbek civil society itself.
Uzbek Forum submits reports to international human rights mechanisms on systemic human rights violations that are outside the focus of international organizations. In the course of its work, Uzbek Forum has submitted more than 20 reports on forced labor in the silk and cotton sectors, freedom of movement, corruption, surveillance by Mahalla Committees and torture. In addition, Uzbek Forum has published dozens of articles and reports on human rights issues that are disseminated in regional and international media outlets.
Uzbek Forum collaborates with other human rights organizations and has published joint reports with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Solidarity Center, maximizing visibility and leverage in the international arena. Uzbek Forum is a frontline partner of the Cotton Campaign, a global coalition of NGOs, trade unions, retailers and investors dedicated to eradicating child and forced labor in the cotton industry. The Cotton Campaign’s advocacy strategy and messaging are informed by Uzbek Forum’s reports, based on witness testimonies, photographic and audio materials gathered by our courageous and skilled monitors.
In 2016, Uzbek Forum’s monitors received the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) Defenders Award for their outstanding work.