07:29 GMT15 May 2021
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    World Bank has been aiding and abetting the Uzbek government’s gross human-rights abuses, which violates international law on responsibility of international organizations for financial complicity in international crimes, according to the report of the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF).

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The World Bank may be in violation of international law by knowingly providing agricultural loans to Uzbekistan’s government that are used to support forced labor in the state-run cotton industry, the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) said in a report issued on Tuesday.

    "The report concludes that the World Bank has been aiding and abetting the Uzbek government’s gross human-rights abuses, which violates international law on responsibility of international organizations for financial complicity in international crimes," according to the ILRF, a US-based advocacy group.

    In 2013, Uzbek civil-rights organizations alerted the World Bank that its funds could be contributing to forced and child labor on cotton farms and requested that the Bank launch an investigation.

    The organizations continued to raise concerns with World Bank managers and the Bank’s board of directors, but the loans were never suspended despite credible evidence of systematic, state-led forced labor at World Bank-financed project sites, the ILRF asserted.

    Recent reports from the field indicate that the Uzbek government’s policy of "systematically mobilizing healthcare workers, students and teachers" for the cotton harvest will remain in place this fall, the ILRF said.

    Civil-society members estimated that as many as one million people were pressed into labor for the 2015 cotton harvest.

    Since 2008, the World Bank has provided about $101 million in agricultural loans to Uzbekistan. The ILRF report said the Bank could be held liable in US courts over its lending practices.

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    Tags:
    World Bank, International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), Uzbekistan
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