CFU PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20, 2023, 5:00 PM ET
Sabrina Sohail: sa*****@ca****************.org
Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) is deeply disappointed with the dismissal of a legal challenge raised against the UK government by Uyghur human rights groups. Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and World Uyghur Congress (WUC) filed a case against the UK government for failing to stop the importation of cotton products made with Uyghur forced labor.
The court case took place in October 2022, making it the first hearing of Uyghur repression in a foreign court. It alleged that the UK Home Office failed to investigate potential breaches of the Foreign Prison-Made Goods Act 1897 (FPMGA) and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Around 30% of the world’s cotton production originates in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), 85% of which originates in East Turkistan, where Uyghurs are forced to pick cotton, to work in textile factories in or near concentration camps, and to live and work under coercive conditions elsewhere in the PRC. In addition, arbitrarily sentenced prison inmates are also routinely used as forced labor in the textile production supply chain. Uyghurs who are forced to work in labor-intensive factories receive little to no pay, endure harsh working conditions, and are deprived of the freedom to leave.
Judge Ian Dove said there was “clear and undisputed evidence of instances of cotton being manufactured in the XUAR [East Turkistan] by the use of detained and prison labor as well as by forced labor”. But he reached the conclusion that the Home Office’s approach to the FPMGA 1897 is “legally sound” and not subject to any misdirection. He continued to state that: “The outcome of the case does not in any way undermine the striking consensus in the evidence that there are clear and widespread abuses in the cotton industry in the XUAR [East Turkistan], involving human rights violations and the exploitation of forced labor.”
Dolkun Isa of the WUC said: “This is a greatly disappointing outcome for the Uyghur community that has been seeking accountability for years. However, this is only the beginning of such a process, with this case being the first in a foreign court. Our legal team has worked hard on this, and together we will continue to hold the Chinese government accountable.”
Executive Director Rushan Abbas said “It is frustrating to see the UK reject halting imports of products tainted with Uyghur forced labor as if it is dependent on Uyghur slave labor and genocide to survive. The government’s position makes the UK a dumping ground for products rejected by the US under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) and drives the CCP to continue to commit genocide and serious human rights violations against Uyghurs.”
CFU calls on all countries to imitate legislation such as the UFLPA to ban the import of products made with Uyghur slave labor, to set the needed global standard for ethical manufacturing, and stop making Uyghur genocide a profitable venture for the PRC.