Speaking in a debate in the European Parliament on the EC-Uzbekistan agreement and bilateral trade in textiles, Catherine Bearder choose to remind the Commission of the scale of forced child Labour in the Uzbekistani cotton industry.
Catherine's Speech was: "Jordan, a schoolgirl from my constituency speaking about forced child labour last week, said
"This needs to stop!"
With 4 other friends she left home at 5.30 in the morning to make the trip to the Parliament with a petition for the President.
Jordan went on " I am here to ask the European politicians what they are doing to stop it."
Well, - what are we doing?
This is something that every MEP should be asking .
As the Uzbek cotton harvest ends, again there are reports of children as young as eight being forced to work long hours in the cotton fields.
The Kor-ez- m region called to mobilise 170,000 schoolchildren during the harvest.
8 college directors were reportedly beaten to coerce them pick cotton.
The Parliament must send a strong message to Uzbekistan that this practice must cease.
Uzbekistan has made no credible efforts to end this practice.
It does not cooperate with the ILO despite signing relevant conventions.
It failed to invite ILO observers once again during this harvest.
In the Trade committee we bent over backwards to give the government a hearing but they have failed send anyone to speak to the MEPs,
This is not acceptable, and it cannot be business as usual.
We now need to send a strong message.
I want to be able to go back to the children in my constituency to say that we heard their voices, because they were speaking up for the 1000s of silent voices of children in Uzbekistan.
The Crimes in the Cotton fields must stop now!"