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WASHINGTON – A US Congress advisory panel has issued a report claiming China’s system of extrajudicial internment camps for Uyghurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) may meet the definition of “crimes against humanity.” The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) detailed severe rights abuses in the XUAR’s camp system, where authorities are believed to have held 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017. Forced and prison labour is an integral part of the camps, which see involuntary ethnic minority labour from Xinjiang being forced into low-skilled, labour-intensive manufacturing sectors; several studies claim textile and cotton production are major recipients of such labour.

The report places further heat on brands and retailers sourcing cotton and textiles from Xinjiang or, indeed, intermediaries which have links with Xinjiang. It also raise serious questions about the continued presence of BCI in the region given that its own criteria contains clear and explicit rules on the issue of forced labour.

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