UHRP Submission to Australian Parliament Inquiry on Forced Labor Bill

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For immediate release
February 9, 2021 1:00 pm EDT
Contact: +1.571.882.4825, +1.202.790.1795

UHRP submitted a response to an inquiry by the Australian Parliament regarding proposed legislation amending Australian customs law to address the use of forced labor in the Uyghur Region.

The billCustoms Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill 2020, bans “goods produced or manufactured in” XUAR, as well as “goods produced or manufactured in the People’s Republic of China through the use of forced labour.” UHRP fully supports this legislation, which is extremely significant in the response to the forced labor crisis.

The UHRP submission makes these additional recommendations: 

  • The Australian government should raise the issue of state-organized forced labor implemented by the Government of China at the March 2021 meeting of the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization (ILO). 
  • Australia should impose targeted human-rights sanctions on individuals and entities implicated in forced labor and other abuses, to include visa bans and asset freezes. 
  • Australia should implement export controls on goods and services to PRC government agencies and companies complicit in forced labor, extrajudicial internment, and facial recognition and other surveillance systems facilitating forced labor. 
  • Australia should undertake a determination of whether the Chinese government’s recent actions in Uyghur Region meet the threshold of acts constitutive of genocide, core international crimes under the Genocide Convention and are consistent with crimes against humanity, an international crime under the Rome Statute. 

The submission provides a concise overview of the ongoing human rights crisis in the region, particularly its forced labor component, as well as global policy responses undertaken to date. UHRP, together with its partners in the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region, calls for private industry and governments to recognize the impossibility of due diligence in the Region, and to act accordingly. “The Australian customs amendment is an excellent response to this pressing issue,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat. “We call on Australian lawmakers to pass it, and for legislators in other nations to consider it as a possible model.”

The UHRP submission can be found on the Australian Parliament website, or can be read in full here.