U.S. Department of Labor Releases Reports on International Child Labor And Forced Labor that Highlight China’s Labor Abuses
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today released a list of 17 goods produced in China under conditions of forced labor in violation of international standards. The list includes five new goods added in 2020 – including gloves, hair products, textiles, thread/yarn and tomato products – all of which are linked to state-sponsored forced labor by ethnic and Muslim minorities.
The release of this list of goods made with forced labor is part of a broader U.S. government effort to address forced labor in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where more than one million Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities have been detained. Estimates range from at least 100,000 to possibly hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in China who may be working in conditions of forced labor following detention in Chinese Communist Party re-education camps.
“Forced labor and abusive child labor are dehumanizing, ruining lives and families,” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Today’s list illustrates the disturbing role of China – the world’s second largest economy – in sponsoring these exploitative practices.”
The list is part of the release of two flagship reports and updates to two smartphone apps that shed light on key challenges and effective strategies for reducing child labor and forced labor around the world.
The ninth edition of the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor, mandated by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, adds two new countries (Venezuela and Zimbabwe), one new area (Taiwan) and six new goods (gloves, rubber gloves, hair products, pome and stone fruits, sandstone and tomato products) that the Department has reason to believe are produced with child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. This edition also features the removal of cattle from Namibia from the list. In addition, a Federal Register Notice will be published in the near future with an initial determination proposing one addition (bricks from Cambodia) to the List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor.
The 19th annual edition of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor – the most comprehensive research product on the state of child labor worldwide – recognizes the efforts of 131 countries and territories to address child labor and applies stringent criteria to assessing the advancement of such efforts. This year, eight countries – Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Namibia, Paraguay and Peru – received the highest assessment of “Significant Advancement.” These countries made meaningful efforts during the reporting period in all relevant areas: laws and regulations, enforcement, coordination, policies and social programs, which may have included taking actions recommended in 2018.
More than 60 percent of the more than 2,000 suggested actions in this year’s report relate to the need to strengthen laws or improve the enforcement of such laws – highlighting the substantial gaps that remain worldwide.
This year’s edition of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor report also marks a unique milestone as Mexico is added to the list of countries covered for the first time. The addition of Mexico represents a deepening and strengthening of the U.S. trade relationship with Mexico, especially in conjunction with the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which came into force earlier this year. The Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs plays a key role in the enforcement of this agreement as the lead U.S. government agency on international labor issues.
Recent International Labor Organization estimates reveal there are still over 152 million child laborers – one in every 10 children – and 25 million forced laborers worldwide. By pinpointing specific industries where child labor and forced labor are occurring, these reports provide vital information to governments for targeting appropriate policy responses, donors for identifying the areas of greatest needs, and businesses for directing resources to support due-diligence and risk-management systems.
To help businesses around the world do their part in ending child labor and forced labor, the Department is releasing a revamped version of the Comply Chain smartphone app, which now includes up-to-date examples of good practices and is available in both French and Spanish. This easy-to-use tool, available for download on both iOS and Android platforms, provides companies clear and detailed guidance on how to develop robust social compliance systems in their global supply chains. It assists them, including their suppliers, in identifying, rectifying and preventing labor abuses in the goods they produce.
The Department also released an updated version of the Sweat & Toil app, which contains information on goods produced by child labor or forced labor and the latest findings on governments’ efforts to address child labor. It makes thousands of pages of data portable, searchable and accessible from every corner of the globe.
More information is available at www.dol.gov/EndChildLabor. Printed versions of the reports are available from the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-5315, Washington, DC 20210. Inquiries can also be made via telephone at 202-693-4843, fax at 202-693-4830 or email at GlobalKids@dol.gov.
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The mission of the Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards, and combating international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. For more information about the department’s work on these issues, visit http://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.