London, UK: The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) of Munich, Germany, and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) had registered a case against states and actors involved in human rights violations, alleging that cotton goods produced by Uyghurs in detention camps in Xinjiang are entering the UK, reported Radio Free Asia.
Roseanne Gerin, writing in Radio Free Asia said that rights groups also argued that a 19th-century law prohibiting the importation of prison-made goods is being violated by the purchase of cotton goods produced by forced labour.
GLAN said a court win would set a “world-first precedent” by confirming that the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act — originally targeting money laundering and other illegal activities of organized crime — also applies to proceeds companies accumulate from so-called atrocity crimes, GLAN’s statement said.
Witness statements, leaked government documents, satellite imagery, a secret memorandum from within the textile industry, and documents that the Chinese government has attempted to remove from the internet will prove the case, GLAN said in a statement.
“All evidence points to cotton made using forced labour coming into the UK from the Uyghur region, East Turkestan,” Siobhan Allen, a GLAN legal officer, said in a statement.
“Living in a free country which upholds respect for human rights, it hurts so much to know that the products that are used in this country are the fruit of the enslavement of my people,” Rahima Mahmut, WUC’s UK Director, said in the statement.
Chinese authorities have used Uyghur forced labour in the cotton industry as part of its systematic persecution of the roughly 12 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities who live in Xinjiang.
China is the UK’s third-largest trade partner, with total trade in goods and services between the two countries amounting to Pound 93 billion (USD123 billion) in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, according to government figures, reported Radio Free Asia.
Earlier this year the UK Parliament voted unanimously to declare that genocide and crimes against humanity were taking place against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, said Gerin.
In the US, Congress a week ago passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which will block the importation of goods produced by forced labour in Xinjiang. The White House has said that President Joe Biden will sign the legislation into law.