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EU Bans Forced Labour Products

by Rahil M
0 comment

Despite the fact that it does not specifically prohibit products produced by Uyghur forced labour, activists from the Uyghur minority praised the measure, while some pointed out its shortcomings.

A new law that prohibits the import and distribution of goods made with forced labour was unanimously approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday. Uyghur activists argued that this would help crack down on China’s use of forced labour in the far west of Xinjiang.

With 45 abstentions, the Forced Labour Regulation, which shifts the burden of proof away from businesses and toward the EU, was passed with 555 votes in favour and 6 against. The law will permit experts in EU member states and the European Commission to research dubious merchandise, supply chains and producers.

Products that they find to be made with forced labour cannot be sold in the EU, even online, and will be taken away from the market at the border. Makers of prohibited merchandise should pull out their items from the EU single market and donate, recycle, or destroy them. Organisations that neglect to go along can be fined.

Despite the fact that it does not specifically prohibit products produced by Uyghur forced labour, activists from the Uyghur minority praised the measure, while some pointed out its shortcomings. The president of the World Uyghur Congress, or WUC, Dolkun Isa, stated, “The passage of this legislation also sends a powerful message to the Chinese companies doing business in Europe that have continuously benefited from the Uyghur forced labour despite repeated warnings.”

The regulation must now be approved by the 27 countries that make up the EU before it can take effect, which is mostly a formality. They will have three years to bring the law into effect after it is ratified.

Zumretay Arkin, WUC’s head of worldwide support, referred to the parliament’s vote as positive, but also said that the EU botched an essential chance to settle on an instrument that could definitively address forced labour when the government is the culprit, as in the Uyghur district in China.

Further on, in a statement from the London-based Abolitionist Subjection Worldwide, she said: “We welcome this milestone but stress that all related guidance, guidelines and considerations of when to investigate cases be created in a way that ensures the regulation can effectively ban products made with state-imposed forced labour.”

According to the rights group that works to end modern slavery, key provisions that would have increased the law’s effectiveness, such as a means of redress for victims of forced labour were left out. In Xinjiang, where the US government claims that China is committing genocide against the 11 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs, a similar law banning the import of goods made using forced labour took effect in 2021.

Despite substantial evidence that it has detained an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in “re-education camps,” where they receive training in various skills and were forced to work in factories that make everything from chemicals and clothing to car parts, Beijing has denied allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang.

The European Parliament passed a goal in June 2022 saying China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim gatherings in Xinjiang added up to violations against mankind and held a “serious risk of genocide.”

The EU regulation has altogether fewer teeth than the US Uyghur Constrained Work Counteraction Act, however, the essence will be how it’s carried out by exploring specialists, said Adrian Zenz, senior individual and chief in China studies at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

According to Zenz, a provision in the EU regulation mandates that the EU conform to the ILO’s definitions and standards for forced labour. The ILO has published updated guidelines with provisions that can target Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang. One of the new provisions states that forced labour imposed by the state should be evaluated more as a risk than as a specific instance.

The Forced Labour Regulation was passed before the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, which imposes legal responsibility on businesses for environmental and human rights violations in their supply chains, is up for a vote in the European Parliament this week.

Anti-Slavery International states, “Together, these laws will send a strong message to workers around the world that the EU will not stand for forced labour.”

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