Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 08:28 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uzbekistan

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uzbekistan, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:5,713,864
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:4.3
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2006:4.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2006:4.1
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:12 school years
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:95.5
Net primary enrollment rate (%):
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:84.1
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO Convention 138:No
ILO Convention 182:6/24/2008
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Numerous credible sources report the widespread, compulsory mobilization of children in Uzbekistan to work during the annual cotton harvest. There are no reliable figures on the number of children involved in the cotton harvest, which is thought to vary considerably by region and year and is a practice that dates from the early Soviet period. During past harvests, schools closed for months in some rural regions to allow children to pick cotton. There have been reports indicating that some children have had to endure poor living conditions during the harvest. While most children involved in the cotton harvest are older than 15 years and the vast majority are over 11 years, children as young as 9 years were seen picking cotton in 2008. Some children from Uzbekistan migrate to Kazakhstan with their families during the harvest season to work in the cotton industry.

Children in Uzbekistan also work in street vending, services, construction, building material manufacturing, and transportation. In urban areas, children as young as 7 or 8 years routinely work in family businesses during school holidays. There are also reports that children grow silkworm cocoons in rural areas.

There are reports that girls are engaged in forced prostitution in Uzbekistan. In the first 9 months of 2008, Uzbek girls were trafficked internally as well as to the United Arab Emirates, India, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkey. Boys were trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years, provided it does not interfere with the children's studies. At 14 years, children may work part time up to 24 hours per week, with parental permission when school is not in session and 12 hours per week when school is in session. Children 16 to 18 years may work up to 36 hours per week while school is not in session and 18 hours per week when school is in session. Children must receive an annual medical examination at their employer's expense to be eligible for work. A Government decree bans children from working in unhealthy conditions, and specifically lists manual harvesting of cotton as having unhealthy conditions for children

The law prohibits forced labor, except when fulfilling a court sentence or as specified by law. The law prohibits attaining profit from promoting prostitution, and though it does not specifically reference child prostitution, "inducing a minor to commit a crime" carries penalties of imprisonment for 5 to 10 years. The law prohibits trafficking of minors with penalties of 8 to 12 years' imprisonment.

The minimum age for military recruitment is 18 years.

The prosecutor general and the Ministry of Interior's criminal investigators are responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws. USDOS reports that while enforcement appears effective in deterring child labor in the formal sector, it is not effective at regulating children's work in family-based employment. However, in 2008, it initially appears that authorities have made "a concerted effort" to prevent students from being mobilized for the cotton harvest.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs' Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit and the Prosecutor's Office have investigated numerous trafficking-related crimes. The more than 600 investigations of individuals for trafficking crimes in 2008 resulted in almost 400 prosecutions, and 65 of the 2,941 trafficking victims were minors. Uzbekistan has assigned 272 police officers to work on trafficking in persons' issues, 118 of whom work on the issue exclusively. According to USDOS, there were unconfirmed reports of Government officials involved in trafficking-related bribery and fraud.

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In June 2008, Uzbekistan ratified ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labor. The Government adopted a National Action Plan for the implementation of the convention in September 2008, which called for the end of the mass mobilization of children for the cotton harvest. In 2008, the Prime Minister issued a statement ordering regional governors not to use child labor during the fall harvest; however, reports indicate that children were mobilized to pick cotton in several parts of the country.

In June 2008, the Government adopted the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. In December 2008, the Government of Uzbekistan adopted the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

Also in 2008, together with the Uzbek Ministry of Labor, the ILO created a manual and other materials on occupational safety and health including the worst forms of child labor. These materials were used in trainings with labor inspectors, occupational safety and health doctors, staff from the Association of Farmers, and trade union staff. Participants held their own trainings throughout the country. The ILO and UNICEF collaborated with the National Human Rights Center, a Government agency, to publish books in Uzbek regarding key child labor conventions and to raise awareness regarding child labor legal reforms.

The Government and ILO continue to work with community-based management and social service organizations to protect children through neighborhood monitoring, publicizing and eliminating hazardous conditions for minors, and establishing a child labor monitoring system. UNICEF completed training for local officials in 2008 that focused on CRC and included a component on the worst forms of child labor. UNICEF also held school-based child labor training for teachers and students in five regions.

In April 2008, the President of Uzbekistan signed an anti-trafficking law that strengthened penalties against traffickers, includes an intra-Governmental coordination mechanism, protection from prosecution for victims forced to commit criminal acts as a result of trafficking, and promises for Government funding for victim protection and assistance. In November 2008, the President ordered the Ministry of Labor to open a national rehabilitation center in Tashkent to protect and assist human trafficking victims, including children.

The Government-approved program in which IOM meets returning trafficking victims at the airport and assists them with entry processing and formulating their preliminary statements for the Ministry of Internal Affairs has continued. Police, border patrol, and consular officials referred trafficking victims to IOM for assistance. The Government supported a public awareness campaign and broadcast anti-trafficking messages on state-controlled television, newspapers, radio, and the Internet. USDOS notes a "large" increase in the number of anti-trafficking articles in state media in 2008. The campaign also promoted the use of anti-trafficking hotlines operated by NGOs. The Government placed awareness-raising posters on buses and in passport offices and consular sections. According to USDOS, recent anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns are "extraordinary."

A Government Inter-Agency Commission on Combating Trafficking in Persons meets four times per year and includes representatives of the Ministry of Interior's Office for Combating Trafficking, Crime Prevention Department, Department of Entry-Exit and Citizenship; the National Security Service's Office for Fighting Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Drugs; the Office of the Prosecutor General; the Ministry of Labor; the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the State Women's Committee.

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