Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R. 6256)

(Passed by the House December 14, 2021, passed by the Senate December 16, 2021, and signed by the President on December 23, 2021)

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (H.R.6256) aims to ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Uyghur Region (or through government labor schemes involving Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tibetans, or members of other persecuted groups) do not enter the United States market. The bill addresses gross violations of human rights against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims through targeted sanctions and import restrictions, and encourages action on such imports internationally.

The bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressman James McGovern (D), with the support of Congressman Chris Smith (R) and 5 other original co-sponsors, and introduced in the US Senate by Senator Marco Rubio (R), with the support of Senator Jeff Merkley (D) and 28 additional original co-sponsors.

The legislation:

  • Creates a prohibition on importation of goods produced in East Turkistan, or by companies working with the Xinjiang government for purposes of “poverty alleviation” or “pairing-assistance” programs, because they are deemed to be made with forced labor. Goods can only be imported if U.S. border authorities are provided “clear and convincing evidence” that these goods were not produced with forced labor, in whole or in part. This “rebuttable presumption” takes effect 180 days after enactment of the law.
  • Requires the CBP Commissioner to report to the appropriate congressional committees, and make available to the public, not later than 30 days after making each determination of an exception to the “rebuttable presumption,” identifying the imported items, and the evidence considered in making the determination.

Enforcement strategy:

  • Within 30 days, requires the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF) to publish a notice soliciting public comments on how best to ensure forced labor goods are not imported into the United States (comment period will be open for at least 45 days);
  • Not later than 45 days after the close of the public comment period, the FLETF will conduct a public hearing on the use of forced labor in China and measures to prevent the importation of such goods into the United States.
  • The FLETF, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of National Intelligence, will develop a prevention strategy assessing and evaluating the risks of forced labor in supply chains. The strategy will include, among other things, assessments of ‘‘pairing assistance’’ and ‘‘poverty alleviation’’ programs, a list of entities involved in forced labor, and a list of products made with forced labor.
  • The strategy will also include recommendations for “efforts, initiatives, and tools and technologies” to be adopted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to identify and trace forced labor goods from East Turkistan at ports of entry to the United States.
  • Within 180 days, requires the FLETF to submit to congressional committees a report that sets out the comprehensive assessment of risks and an enforcement strategy, and an updated report annually thereafter.

Diplomatic strategy:

  • Within 90 days, requires the Department of State to submit to Congress:
    • A strategy to “enhance international awareness of and to address forced labor” in East Turkistan
    • A strategy to provide humanitarian assistance, including with respect to resettlement and advocacy for imprisoned family members, for Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples formerly detained in mass internment camps.
    • A list of entities that use or benefit from forced labor and a list of foreign persons that have acted as agents of these entities. 
    • A plan of actions taken by the United States Government to address forced labor in the Uyghur Region under existing authorities, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018,  and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

Global Magnitsky Sanctions for Forced Labor:

  • Amends the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 to include Global Magnitsky sanctions for serious human rights abuses in connection with forced labor.
  • Within 180 days, requires the President to submit to the appropriate Congressional committees a report that identifies each foreign person, including officials, government agencies, and companies responsible for serious human rights abuses in connection with forced labor with respect to Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or members of other persecuted groups.