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BERLIN – Forced labour was used in the 2019 cotton harvest in Uzbekistan, but the situation is slowly improving. This is the message of an independent assessment by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights and Cotton Campaign. “Our initial findings give reason to be hopeful that the Uzbek government will continue its efforts to eradicate forced labour of all categories of people including public sector employees, entrepreneurs and mahalla communities,” said UGF in a new briefing, prior to the publication of its full harvest report in March. It added: “At the same time, previously identified shortcomings in the reform process remain and pose significant obstacles to ending forced labour and paving the way for responsible business to engage in the Uzbek cotton sector.”

UGF claims in its dispatch that measures such as a clear political commitment, an increase in wages and some improvement in working and living conditions as well as public outreach campaigns promoting the prohibition of forced labour, have “without doubt contributed to the decrease in the use of forced labour.”

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