EU: Do More to End #ForcedLabour

The European Union

The European Union must adopt stronger #ForcedLabour regulations to end the practice. It must acknowledge when some products come from areas where #ForcedLabour is an issue, those items were produced by slave labor. This includes products like cotton and tomatoes from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China. The EU must ban the import of these items.

The government of China is perpetrating human rights abuses on a massive scale in the Uyghur Region, targeting the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. These abuses include arbitrary mass detention of an estimated one million to 1.8 million people and a program to “cleanse” ethnic minorities of their “extremist” thoughts through re-education and forced labour. This involves multiple forms of involuntary labour at workplaces across the region and even in other parts of China.

Products from this state-imposed forced labour can be found in the supply chains of over 17 different industries, including apparel, solar, automotive, and red dates. In order for the EU to ensure companies are not selling goods made with Uyghur-forced labour, policy makers MUST enact import control legislation that allows for the banning imports of these products.

There are no valid means for companies to verify that any workplace in the Uyghur Region is free of forced labour. Nor are there any to prevent the use of forced labour in these workplaces. Therefore, business and governments must operate on the assumption that all products produced in part or in whole in the Uyghur Region are tainted by forced labour.

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To: The European Union
From: [Your Name]

I am asking you to support Forced Labour Regulations that have teeth. In 2023, state-imposed slavery is unacceptable. The human rights crisis in the Uyghur Region is one of the worst on earth. Items produced by Uyghurs and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples are entering the supply chains of over 17 different industries, including apparel, solar, automotive, and seafood.

In order for the Forced Labour Regulation to matter, it must:

• Establish a rebuttable presumption of forced labour on specific product groups (like all cotton or all tomatoes) from specified countries or regions (such the Uyghur Region) that would lead to a ban of these specific product groups.

• Change the evidentiary standards required to open investigations. For example, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities use “reasonable but not conclusive” as the evidentiary standard to issue a “Withhold Release Order” that allows the re-exportation of goods subject to the order, but uses the “conclusive evidence, i.e., probable cause that the goods were made with forced labour” to issue a final decision (called “forced labour finding”) which then allows authorities to seize the goods.

• Prevent companies from using social audits and certifications as evidence against their wrongdoing.

• Designative the European Commission should as a competent authority to be able to conduct investigations or to contribute to the investigation process when investigating in third countries is required.

Europe has seen its share of genocide. The European Union needs to do more to end the atrocities being committed against the Uyghurs.