In the News

Forced Labour Rampant in Uzbekistan Cotton Harvest

Equal Times
Health care workers toiling in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan are to be joined by third- and fourth-year university students forced by the government to labour in the country’s annual autumn harvest, according to stories compiled by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
The non-profit organisation has also highlighted news that minors again may be forced into picking cotton.

Uzbekistan Is Forcing 'Volunteers' to Toil in Its Cotton Fields

Vice News
Cotton is ever-present in our lives. It is in the clothes we wear, the towels in our bathrooms, our bed linen, even bank notes we pay with are made with cotton.
What is little known however is that vast amounts of the world's cotton are produced in slavery-like conditions in Central Asia. And while many are concerned about the sweatshops of Bangladesh and India, few would have heard about the forced labor of their own citizens organized by the governments of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Pacific trade negotiators face high-wire act in Hawaii

Pacific Rim officials meet in Hawaii this week for talks that could make or break an ambitious trade deal which aims to boost growth and set common standards across a dozen economies ranging from the United States to Brunei.
Trade ministers go into the talks, which run from July 28 to 31 on the island of Maui, with high hopes of a pact to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the most sweeping trade deal in a generation and a legacy-defining achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama.

Democrat spotlights Peru labor complaint

The Hill
The top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday welcomed a complaint against Peru’s government for alleged labor violations ahead of what could be the final round of talks on a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade deal. 
Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan said that the complaint shines the light on workers rights issues and that the United States must ensure that labor protections in all Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries, including Vietnam, Mexico, Malaysia and Peru.

Candy makers fire back on forced labor

The Hill
While the NCA stopped short of endorsing an end to the exemption, the group stressed that companies have not “utilized any provision of the more than 80-year-old customs law to import cocoa” for their products from West Africa.
“We’re working very hard to change the labor conditions in their region,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, the NCA’s vice president of government affairs.

Artisanal, hand-crafted chocolate is a growing niche

Los Angeles Times

Ryan Berk makes his chocolate from scratch. That means flying to Central America four times a year, hiking over Maya ruins to remote jungle villages and meeting face-to-face with the farmers who supply his cocoa beans.

Roasted back home at Berk's shop, the beans have a habit of enveloping downtown Redlands with a warm smell like brownies fresh from the oven. It's only then that the chocolate maker with the Indiana Jones streak can mix and shape the ancient treat into bars, carefully wrapping each one by hand.

Bold Thai plan to send prisoners to sea sinks amid rights protests


A radical plan by the Thai government to put prisoners to work on the country's under-staffed fishing boats has been scrapped, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, following charges the scheme threatened inmates' rights.

Rights groups had also argued the idea would fail to address the fundamental causes of the labor shortage that fuels human trafficking in Thailand's fishing industry.

(Continue reading the article on the original website here...)

Thailand considered sourcing your fish dinner with prison labor

Global Post

BANGKOK, Thailand — Trawling the ocean on a Thai fishing boat is one of Asia’s foulest jobs.

It can involve 20-hour work days on a reeking boat, bobbing on lawless seas, under captains who lord over crews like slave drivers. The job attracts so few takers that fishing syndicates infamously rely on forced labor: duping migrants onto ships and forcing them to toil for no pay.

(Continue reading the article on the original website here...)