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Independent Review Recommends Funding to Address Harms

An external review of the World Bank Group’s private funding institutions found that social and environmental abuses caused by their development projects went largely unaddressed, leaving victims without remedies. The review focused on the…
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Report Highlights Shortcomings in Recruitment Practices and Accountability

Uzbekistan has made important strides in reducing the use of forced labor in its cotton sector but has yet to eliminate it completely, according to new research released this week. Uzbek Forum, an international nongovernmental organization,…
Workers load cotton that they have picked onto trucks during the 2016 cotton harvest.
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I can’t stop thinking about Marie. She was 30 years old when I met her in 2015. Two years earlier, six fighters armed with rifles and machetes burst into her home in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui. Two of the fighters held her…
Josephine, 28, said she fled her home in Bangui with her husband and five young children due to fighting in the city in October 2014. When she returned to her neighborhood to collect clothes and dishes for the family, three anti-balaka stopped her and t
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Reforms Need to Target the Underlying Soviet-Era System Encouraging Forced Labor

Despite a slew of steps taken to curb the practice, forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields remains widespread, according to a recently released report. The Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), which has been monitoring…
Women carrying bags of cotton to be weighed and loaded onto a truck in Jizzakh region during the 2016 cotton harvest. The government typically requires people to meet a daily quota of cotton picked, from which the costs of food and transport are deducted.
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Reports of Ill-Treatment Show Need for Transparency, Monitoring

(Paris) – Uzbek authorities should immediately and unconditionally release an Afghan citizen whose 13-year imprisonment and alleged torture in custody have only recently become known, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, International…
A guard in a solitary confinement block at an unidentified prison in Uzbekistan. Prisoners in solitary confinement in Uzbekistan’s prisons experience cramped cells without bedding—some in total darkness, others with permanent bright lights
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World Bank President Jim Kim Should Press to Eliminate Labor Abuses

Despite recent reforms, systematic forced labor was still rampant in 2017 in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector, new research shows. A report by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), a German-based nongovernmental…
A woman picks cotton during the 2015 cotton harvest, which runs from early September to late October or early November annually.
News

Victims of Sexual Violence Need More Support to Continue Education

In 2015, as conflict raged in the Central African Republic, Evelyne (not her real name) was returning from selling cassava leaves near Boda, in the country’s southwest, when an anti-balaka fighter threw her on the ground, raped her, and…
Josephine, 28, said she fled her home in Bangui with her husband and five young children due to fighting in the city in October 2014. When she returned to her neighborhood to collect clothes and dishes for the family, three anti-balaka stopped her and t
News

UN Peacekeeping Mission Faces Renewal, Needs Expansion

(Nairobi) – Violence threatening civilians has surged in recent months in the Central African Republic’s south-central and southeastern regions. To protect people at risk, the United Nations Security Council should renew the mandate of the UN…
Anti-Balaka fighters in Gambo, Mboumou province, Central African Republic, on August 16, 2017.
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When an armed group attacked “Irène’s” home in the Central African Republic, fighters shot her husband in both legs as he tried to flee, and tied their five-year-old daughter to a post when she began to cry. “Irène,” 36, held her palms over her eyes as…
Angèle, 27 ans, serre son enfant dans ses bras à Bangui, en République centrafricaine. Les combattants de la Séléka ont tué son mari et ses parents, avant de la capturer près de Bambari en juin 2014, a-t-elle raconté. Ils l’ont détenue en tant qu’esclave
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Some Students, Teachers, Medical Workers Released

The recent release of 200,000 university students and some teachers and medical workers from forced labor picking cotton in Uzbekistan came shortly after World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s first meeting with the country’s new president, Shavkat…
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Widespread Rape, Sexual Slavery by Armed Groups

(New York) – Armed groups in the Central African Republic have used rape and sexual slavery as a tactic of war across the country during nearly five years of conflict, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Commanders have…
Josephine, 28, said she fled her home in Bangui with her husband and five young children due to fighting in the city in October 2014. When she returned to her neighborhood to collect clothes and dishes for the family, three anti-balaka stopped her and t
Report
Summary We spent a week there. [The anti-balaka] raped us every day…. We had become their “wives.” It was us who prepared the food…. At any moment, they would want to sleep with you and, if you resisted, they threatened to kill you….…
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Armed groups in the Central African Republic have used rape and sexual slavery as a tactic of war across the country during nearly five years of conflict. Commanders have tolerated widespread sexual violence by their forces and, in some cases, appear to…
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On June 27 we released a joint report documenting forced and child labor linked to the World Bank’s agriculture projects in Uzbekistan. We hoped it would cause bank officials to rethink their approach. But then the bank’s country team…
A school-age boy hides under direction from a teacher who feared he would be seen by a monitor during the 2016 cotton harvest, Beruni district, Karakalpakstan
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The World Bank president, Jim Kim, said last year that he was going to re-orient the institution, declaring, “We have to make growth more equitable.” But the World Bank’s investments in Uzbekistan tell a different story. The Bank has loaned more than half…
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Fighting Forced Labor in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Fields

  At age 60, Elena Urlaeva has been arrested, beaten, strip searched and threatened so many times that she stopped counting. She must slip out of her house under cover of darkness when no one is…
Uzbek human rights defender Elena Urlaeva, detained at a psychiatric hospital from March 1 to March 23, 2017.
Report
Summary Cotton is mandatory for everyone. The government gave the orders [to pick] and you will not go against those orders…. If I refuse, they will fire me…. We would lose the bread we eat. −Uzbek schoolteacher, October 2015, Turtkul,…
News

Systematic Violations Underpin Country’s Cotton Sector

(Brussels) – The World Bank is funding half a billion dollars in agricultural projects linked to forced and child labor in Uzbekistan, Human Rights Watch and the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights said in a report released today. Under the…
A woman picks cotton during the 2015 cotton harvest, which runs from early September to late October or early November annually.