Human Rights Abuses Drive Turkmenistan Cotton

Feb 15, 2014 8:00 AM ET

Report Highlights Turkmenistan’s Use of Forced Labor in Cotton Harvest

Much like the highly publicized cotton harvest in Uzbekistan, thousands of citizens in Turkmenistan are forced into the cotton fields each autumn against their will.  Forced labor is still widely practiced throughout the country, with tens of thousands of Turkmen, many public sector employees, required to enter the fields during the harvest.

Turkmenistan has a corrupt system where government officials lease cotton plots from the state and then force its citizens to pick the cotton. Many of the officials do not even live on the land or even in the region. The officials then sell the harvest back to the government for a low price, who in turn sells the cotton abroad at market price.  

During this years harvest teachers were spotted guiding their students in to the cotton fields, where girls as young as 10 were seen picking cotton.

Last year the Uzbekistan harvest was estimated to yield about 3.35 million metric tons of cotton, which currently is selling at market for around $2,000 per metric ton. The Turkmenistan harvest yields about 1 million metric tons of raw cotton annually, while less in tonnage, the cotton is still harvested in an inhuman way.

Source Intelligence, the leading provider of conflict minerals compliance programs, launched its Foreign Corrupt Practices Program, which handles cotton sourced from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. “It’s a natural extension of our suite of compliance driven solutions,” commented Lina Ramos, Chief Business Officer at Source, “More importantly, our FCPA solution is in direct response to the overwhelming requests we’ve received over the last year from our existing conflict minerals customers -- their compliance priorities are our compliance priorities.”

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