In the News

17 killed in Uzbekistan's forced cotton harvest, report says

Toronto Star

Seventeen people, including two children, died during this year’s cotton harvest in Uzbekistan, the bloodiest year to date, according to a shocking new report.

The two children, ages 3 and 5, died of smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in their home in Karakalpakstan, a remote area in the country’s northwest. Their mother was forced to leave them home alone when she was ordered to pick cotton, said Umida Niyazova, the Berlin-based director of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, which produced the report.

Children, teachers forced to toil in Uzbek cotton harvest - report


Uzbekistan forced millions of children and adults to work in its cotton harvest this year, resulting in deaths, harassment and extortion, a report by a human rights group said on Friday.

The Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights said the government used fewer children than in 2013 to pick this year's cotton but had used more adults instead, including teachers and doctors.

"Cotton in Uzbekistan is produced by massive human rights violations, including forced labour," said Umida Niyazova, director of the Uzbek-German Forum.

Most Nations Reducing Worst Forms of Child Labour

Inter Press Service News Agency

WASHINGTON, Oct 8 2014 (IPS) - Most of the world’s governments are taking measures to reduce the worst and most hazardous forms of child labour, according to a major report released here Tuesday by the U.S. Labour Department.

In its annual assessment of progress toward eliminating that kind of exploitation, the 958-page report found that roughly half of the 140-some countries and foreign territories covered by the report had made what it called “moderate” advances in the field.

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

National Public Radio

Mechanization has made the farming of many crops — lettuce and tomatoes among them — a lot less labor intensive. But some crops are still tended and harvested by hand, and it can be painstaking work.

How do you measure the labor intensity of crops? We thought there would be an easy answer to that, but there isn't. Some agricultural economists talk about labor input in terms of hours per acre, but that may not take into account the difficulty of the labor.

Western Firms React to Burmese Slave Labor Accusations in Thailand


A US human rights group is calling on major Western food retailing companies to put pressure on businesses in Thailand after a major Thai conglomerate was linked to allegations of trafficking and slave labor involving Burmese migrants.

The call for action comes from the Washington-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) following an investigation into Thailand’s fishing industry, which employs thousands of Burmese migrant workers.