Friday, December 31, 2010

Launch of cotton crimes campaign, Europe agrees new anti-trafficking law

Dear Anti-Slavery supporter,

NEW: Cotton Crimes campaign against child slavery

Anti-Slavery International is launching the Cotton Crimes campaign to step up action against child slavery in Uzbekistan 's cotton industry.

Fresh evidence has emerged from this year's cotton harvest of children being forced from their classrooms into the fields to pick cotton for little or no pay.

As the third biggest global exporter of cotton, Uzbekistan 's state-run cotton industry is reliant on forcing hundreds of thousands of children to work in order to reap Government profits of over US$1 billion annually. However, the Government continues to deny the use of state-sponsored slavery.

The single biggest destination for Uzbek cotton is the European market. Despite strong condemnation from the European Union over the use of child slavery in Uzbek cotton production, the EU continues to allow the Government of Uzbekistan to benefit from reduced trading tariffs for its cotton imports. The EU should not be financially rewarding Uzbekistan for using child slavery.

Please sign the Cotton Crimes petition here
calling upon the President of the European Parliament to remove trade preferences for Uzbekistan and stop child slavery.

Read the recent press coverage in the Guardian here and find out more about the campaign at

Europe agrees new anti-trafficking law....urge the UK to sign up!

The European Parliament has made a significant step forward in tackling human trafficking across Europe by officially approving a new EU law this Tuesday (14 December) to create a more hostile environment for traffickers and to better protect victims.

Unfortunately the new law does not apply to the UK as the Government has decided not to sign up, making the UK one of only two EU countries out of 27 which will not benefit from this improved action on trafficking.

The UK cannot afford to be complacent ahead of the London 2012 Olympics where there is a very real risk of an increase in trafficking. Traffickers do not respect national borders making it increasingly important for countries to act together rather than go it alone.

The UK Government has said that it is not willing to reconsider its position on the new trafficking legislation until it has been formally approved at European level. Now that it has been agreed, the UK must act immediately and commit to opting in.

Nearly 15,000 of you have already joined our campaign calling on the UK Government to do so. Please keep the pressure on by Signing the Petition and Writing to your MP.

Read more about the new developments on BBC online or the European Parliament's website.

UN Special Rapporteur calls on UK to protect domestic workers

On the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of the Slavery, Anti-Slavery International invited the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, to the UK to speak at a Parliamentary meeting to raise awareness of modern slavery and domestic servitude.

Parliamentarians, domestic workers and NGO representatives joined a packed meeting in the House of Lords to discuss the challenges the UN Special Rapporteur faces in her work.

As part of her role to recommend what actions governments can take to eradicate slavery, Ms Shaninian urged the UK to support the adoption of a new International Convention to protect domestic workers around the world, stressing the importance of collective international action to combat slavery in this sector.

Whilst in the UK , Ms Shahinian also met with Foreign Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, to discuss the Government's support for her role and ending slavery worldwide. Read more about their meeting here.

Virtual Christmas gifts for children affected by slavery

Anti-Slavery International's alternative Christmas gift shop provides the opportunity to give to a community of formerly enslaved women and children in a remote desert region of Niger .

The gifts available will go to five new schools and local women's community groups. These gifts can be purchased for friends and family as a Christmas gift and we will send you a gift card describing the project and your generous donation on their behalf. Click here for further information.

Latest global slavery news

* Victory for Florida tomato pickers
* New chief offers hope to those still in slavery in Niger
* China police probe Xinjang 'slave labour' factory
UK supermarkets sold leeks picked by 'slaves', court told

Where do your products come from?

If you haven't already taken a look, check out our new interactive website about slavery and the products we buy at to help you, as consumers, understand the scale of slavery in the global markets and how you can take action to end slave labour.

Thank you for your support in the fight against slavery.

Gemma Wolfes
Campaigns & Outreach Officer

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