Comments on allegations of forced and child labour in Uzbekistan
Press Release ¹12
Uzbekistan is a member of the UN and OSCE. It is also a signatory to conventions of International Labour Organization and has extensively developed legal system which is adherent to international principles of human rights protection and fully observed in practice in the territory of Uzbekistan.
The priority of internationally recognized norms is recognised in the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Protection of labour rights of young citizens is stipulated by the Constitution of Uzbekistan, Law on Education, National Program of Education and Training; Civil Code of Uzbekistan; Law on Professional Trade Unions and guarantees of their rights; Law on Employment of Population; Law on Protection of labour; Labour Code and many others.
Currently there are two forms of enterprises in agricultural sector – farmers and “dehqon” (peasants) enterprises which are owned mostly by families. State controlled agricultural enterprises do not exist in Uzbekistan.
During school holidays and in order to get the youth into the way of working relations, the students from professional colleges and other educational institutions may be hired to perform light labour which will not cause any damage or harm to the health of the young or educational curriculum. Given the national traditions, at times, which are free –from-school, young people provide some help to their parents, i.e. farmers and families, who are the owners of agricultural business. Mass application of young and child labour used to have the case only in the Soviet Union, some 15-18 years ago. Presently, the laws of Uzbekistan ban any form of child labour in the fields of cotton or other agricultural products.
The Labour Code of Uzbekistan allows hiring the young people at the age of 15. However, considering local conditions this age may be reduced to 14 provided they receive full education and there is no evidence of harm to their health. This is in full conformity with the Convention N138 and N182 of International Labour Organization. Besides, on 9 June 2001 the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan registered the list of unfavourable jobs for the young people under 18 years of age.
Observance of these regulations is monitored and controlled by different agencies and appropriate institutions including the Ombudsmen and its branches in the regions, parliamentary groups as well as NGOs, the number of which exceed more than five thousand at the moment. In fact there are several NGOs which are created to defend rights of children and the young, namely “For the welfare of young generation”, “You are not alone” “Patience” and others. Two governmental groups carry on monitoring on conditions of under age people. One of them is commissioned by the Deputy Prime Minister whilst the second one is commissioned by the General Prosecutor. The State Law Commission on Labour and regional professional trade unions carry on the monitoring of child labour regulations.
In recent years all favourable economic conditions were created for family business in Uzbekistan. In particular they include:
Strong social protection of economically less advanced families;
Free access to the bank credits;
Possibility to receive initial capital to start a private business;
Support and encouragement of the family business;
Simple system of business registration;
Land allocation for farmers as part of the state economic policy.