Press release December 16, 2021
United States: Freedom House Applauds Passage of Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, Urges Swift Signature and Implementation
The measure will require importers to prove that goods from Xinjiang were not made with forced labor.
In response to the passage of matching versions of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act by the US House of Representatives and US Senate, which then sends the bill to President Biden’s desk for signature, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act will prevent goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region from entering the United States and will impose sanctions on those involved in human rights abuses related to forced labor in the Xinjiang region,” said Annie Boyajian, vice president for policy and advocacy at Freedom House. “We applaud the persistence of the bill’s sponsors in seeing it through the legislative process as well as the unanimous passage of this important measure.”
“We urge President Biden to sign it swiftly into law and ensure that it is immediately and fully implemented. Forced labor is a key component of the Chinese government’s extensive network of detention facilities. More than one million people, including children, remain detained in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as part of the Communist Party regime’s ongoing campaign of repression against Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups. This bill is a vital step to ensure that American businesses and consumers are not complicit in such atrocities and to put economic pressure on the Chinese government to end the horrific practice of forced labor, ultimately saving lives and reuniting families.”
The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was first introduced in March 2020, was passed in its most recent form in the House of Representatives on December 14, 2021, and in the Senate on December 16, 2021.
Once the bill is signed into law by President Biden, it will:
- Direct US Customs and Border Protection to presume that all goods made in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are made with forced labor and therefore prohibited from importation into the United States, unless the importer can prove that forced labor was not used.
- Require the imposition of sanctions on “each foreign person, including any official of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, that the President determines is responsible for serious human rights abuses in connection with forced labor with respect to Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or members of other persecuted groups, or other persons in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”
- Direct the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force to develop, with public input, a strategy to ensure that goods made with forced labor in the People’s Republic of China, “including by Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tibetans, and members of other persecuted groups in the People’s Republic of China, and especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, are not imported into the United States.”
The legislation was authored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA-2), and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) and had broad bipartisan support, with 54 cosponsors in the Senate and 114 cosponsors in the House.
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