UN highlights forced labor of Uighurs in China in report on contemporary slavery

A report on contemporary forms of slavery that victimize ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities highlighted the crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang, northwest China.

The document, signed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Unidas and professor of international law and human rights Tomoya Obokata, will be discussed at the 51 th session of the UN Human Rights Council, between 12 September and October 7.

Based on independent research, victim testimonies, information provided by the Chinese government and other sources, the Rapporteur noted that he “considers it reasonable to conclude” that Uighurs, Kazakhs and members of other ethnic minorities are being subjected to labor forced into sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing in Xinjiang.

“There are two distinct systems imposed by the state: the system of vocational education and training centers, in which minorities are detained and subjected to supervised work; and poverty alleviation through the labor transfer system, in which surplus rural workers are transferred to work in the secondary or tertiary sector”, highlighted Obokata, who highlighted that similar systems have also been identified in the Tibet Autonomous Region, where farmers , pastoralists and other rural workers were transferred to “low-skilled and poorly paid jobs”.

The rapporteur pointed out that, “while these programs can create employment opportunities for minorities and increase their incomes, as alleged by the government”, “indicators of forced labor that point to the involuntary nature of the work provided by the affected communities were present in many cases”.

“Furthermore, given the nature and extent of the powers exercised over workers affected during forced labour, including excessive surveillance, abusive living and working conditions, restriction of movement through internment, threats As, physical and/or sexual violence and other inhuman or degrading treatment, some cases may constitute enslavement as a crime against humanity, deserving a more independent analysis”, added the rapporteur.

Obokata also included in the report information on irregular situations in other parts of the world, such as forced labor in illegal mining and logging in the Brazilian Amazon, sexual slavery in Boko Haram moderated Christian and Muslim communities in northern Nigeria, and child labor among minority and migrant children in Angola, Costa Rica, Honduras and Kazakhstan.

Among the various recommendations in the report, changes to national legislation to combat discrimination against minorities, education and vocational training for these communities, and improvements in legal assistance are suggested. , medical, psychological and financial assistance to the victims of these situations.

Still in August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Human Rights (OHCHR) is expected to release an expected report on violations in this area by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, but human rights groups fear that the tone of the document will be soft on Beijing.

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