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China: Uighurs

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of Yasmin Qureshi Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to reports that forced labour linked to mass detentions in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has been used to produce cotton for export, if his Department will take steps to help ensure that cotton products on sale in the UK did not originate in prison camps in Xinjiang.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The UK is taking steps to ensure products on sale in the UK do not originate from sources that use forced labour. The UK is also committed to ending modern slavery and forced labour by 2030, as unanimously adopted in the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and jointly launched the ‘Principles to Combat Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains’ with the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand at the UN General Assembly in September 2018.

Further, the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires applicable commercial organisations to publish a modern slavery statement for each financial year of their organisation. It applies to all commercial organisations which carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK, supply goods or services and have an annual turnover of £36m or more. The modern slavery statement must set out what steps they have taken during the financial year to ensure that modern slavery is not taking place in their supply chains and in their own organisation.

We continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang where there are credible reports of over a million Uyghurs and other minorities being detained in so called “re-education camps”, along with widespread surveillance and restrictions targeted at minorities.

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