Tribune 119 09.07.2019 13:13:51

Why is forced labor still inflicted upon people ?

Why is forced labor still inflicted upon people ?

Zafar Mustafakulov, chief counselor of the Human Rights Department of the Ministry of Justice answers the questions on the topic. 

-    In recent years, social networks have received data on the facts of forced labor inflicted upon employees of secondary schools, hospitals, and other areas. When our country has adopted a number of legislative acts aimed at preventing forced labor, why is not it completely eradicated?

-    Firstly, such a negative phenomenon is attributable to a lack of legal literacy of citizens, some officials. Secondly, the legislation directed on prevention of forced labor is also insufficiently regulated. 

1)    In accordance with article 37 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to work, choose profession, work in fair labor conditions and be protected from unemployment on the basis of the procedure established by law, a forced labor is prohibited except for the procedure for serving a sentence imposed by a court or other cases specified in the law. 

2) In accordance with article 7 of the Labor Code, it is prohibited to force citizens to perform any work, engage in forced labor in the form of punishment in enterprises, organizations, and departments, or on the basis of maintaining labor discipline and order at work. 

These norms meet the requirements of the Conventions No. 105 "On the Cessation of Forced Labor" and No. 29 "On the Forced Use or Forced Labor" ratified by the Republic of Uzbekistan.

3) In accordance with the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers May 10, 2018 No. 349 “On Additional Measures for the Eradication of Forced Labor in the Republic of Uzbekistan” the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Uzbekistan is entrusted to strengthen control over enforcement of legislation in the field of labor rights and prevention of forced labor on the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan, improve the efficiency of inspections and 
 take appropriate punishment for the perpetrators when forced labor conditions are detected.

However, attitudes aimed at the prevention of forced labor are not completely regulated in our legislation.

In the days of slavery that prevailed in the sixteenth century, people were exploited as free human resources and their honor and dignity were humiliated. 

However, there is no article in the Criminal Code establishing exclusive criminal liability for acts of forced labor which is an analogous form of slavery. 

In addition, article 51 of the Code of Administrative Responsibility establishes administrative liability for forced labor in any form.

According to this article, the administrative protocol concerning the guilty offender is issued by the state legal and technical inspectors on the labor of the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations.

However, state legal and technical inspectors on labor can draw up administrative protocols against the employer based on the relations between the employer and the employee. In respect of officials who are not employers, inspectors have no authority to issue administrative documents for administrative coercion to work.

In practice, government officials (officials of the district administration, heads of sectors and etc.) in the regions coerce employees and workers to engage in forced labor through their employers.

In this case, employers are subject to administrative responsibility and the main responsible officials (officials of the district administration, heads of sectors, and etc.) tend to evade liability.

This means that there may still be cases of forced labor in our country. 

To prevent and eliminate such negative situations:

It is time to introduce the second part of article 51 in the Code of Administrative Responsibility that establishes administrative responsibility for administrative coercion to work inflicted by employees of government bodies and law enforcement bodies.

The new article must be added to the Criminal Code to define criminal responsibility for administrative coercion to work by government bodies.

The Ministry is currently considering the further improvement of legislation in this area with a view to eliminating cases of forced labor.