UHRP Commends US Customs Detention of Uyghur Forced Labor Imports Under UFLPA
January 6, 2023 | 12:00 p.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 819-0598, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) commends U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for acting on the findings in UHRP’s report, Fruits of Uyghur Forced Labor: Sanctioned Red Date Products on American Grocery Store Shelves. CBP reported January 5 that it had detained several shipments of products bound for the U.S. market, as an enforcement action under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).
“This should send a clear message to importers—products made with Uyghur forced labor will be stopped at the border,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “Seeing these products on grocery store shelves was salt in the wounds of Uyghur Americans whose families have been disappeared into camps and prisons over the last six years. CBP’s action is an important part of ending corporate complicity.”
CBP announced that the agency detained shipments of red dates produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC or “Bingtuan”) after customs officials identified the products entering the Port of Newark, New Jersey. At least two other shipments were subsequently detained in Los Angeles and Oakland, California. Since July 2020, all financial transactions with the XPCC have been prohibited under Global Magnitsky human rights sanctions.
The UHRP report that led to the detentions, Fruits of Uyghur Forced Labor, originally found that more than 70 brands of dried fruit products tainted by Uyghur forced labor were being sold to U.S. consumers, including on the shelves of at least seven Asian markets in the Washington, DC area.
Since publication of the report, UHRP and the Uyghur American Association have identified many cases of red dates produced by the XPCC still offered on grocery store shelves in Maryland, Northern Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and California.
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), also known as the Bingtuan, is a paramilitary force that exercises control over large portions of territory in East Turkistan. The XPCC is the single largest producer of cotton in the Uyghur Region, and produces over a quarter of the red dates in China.
The European Union and other governments should enact import control legislation banning imports of goods through forced labor similar to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in order to stop goods made using Uyghur forced labor from entering the global market. This approach is supported by the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, for which UHRP serves as a Steering Committee member.
Access to Customs Trade Information—An Open Call from Civil Society, November 16, 2022
Uyghur organizations call on the ILO to denounce Uyghur forced labor, November 10, 2021