Last week the British High Court ruled against human rights campaigners who claimed that UK authorities were allowing the import of cotton textiles made in the Xinjiang region of China. That region has been associated with forced labour in the recent past.
Two groups initiated the case against the UK government, the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and World Uyghur Congress’ (WUC). They stated that nothing had really been done to stop the importation of cotton goods produced by foreced labour.
The question might also be, is this the difference how the UK and the EU would be or will be handling such cases in the future? The EU commission proposed on September 14th last year to prohibit products made under forced labour on the EU market ( https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5415 ).
The definition of forced labour is in reference to standards established by the International Labour Organisation ("ILO") and includes the use of forced labour across the entire supply chain, so also covering those products which would be reworked, further processed in the EU.
Products would then be suspended or refused to be circulated within the EU market if forced labour is identified; and further enforcement and penalties by the Member States is possible.
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“Sadly, the court ruled in favour of the authorities, who have the power to investigate these imports but refuse to exercise it,” read a statement from GLAN after the ruling was announced by High Court justice Ian Dove.