In 2016, as in previous years, the government of Uzbekistan continues to rely on the massive use of forced labour in the cotton harvest and harsh repression of rights activists. On October 13, the day the government ratified ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association, the authorities detained four journalists reporting on forced labour. Among the four was Elena Urlaeva, who has been repeatedly detained and harassed over the years for exposing child and forced labour and documenting the role of Uzbekistan’s state-controlled unions in enlisting public sector workers for forced labour in the harvest.
The government-controlled Trade Union Federation of Uzbekistan, which polices the workforce and claims millions of members, remains the only legal trade union body in the country.
Regularly updated information on the system of forced labour in cotton production is available on the website of the Uzbek German Forum here