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Forced Labour Lab

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Forced Labour Lab

The Forced Labour Lab at the Helena Kennedy Centre is an initiative to provide an evidence base for better understanding forced labour globally

Detainees in a Xinjiang's camp sitting in rows on the ground

The Forced Labour Lab is a project of the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice that conducts research on forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking. Our current research focuses on the systematic forced labour of minoritized citizens in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Our reports, evidence briefs, and datasets inform advocacy groups, journalists, researchers, governments, corporations, and stakeholders about Xinjiang forced labour in international supply chains.


Laundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton in Obscured in International Supply Chains


Cover of the Laundering Cotton reportLaundering Cotton: How Xinjiang Cotton is Obscured in International Supply Chains is an investigation into how forced-labour-produced cotton and cotton-based goods from the Uyghur Region wend their way into international supply chains. Based on international trade and customs data, we conclude that at the same time as Xinjiang cotton has come to be associated with human rights abuses and to be considered high risk for international brands, China's cotton industry has benefited from an export strategy that obscures cotton's origin in the Uyghur Region.

The Uyghur Region produces approximately 85% of all of China's cotton, and in the last several years, China has encouraged the rapid growth of cotton goods manufacturing in the Uyghur Region. 52% of China's export of raw cotton, yarn, and fabric goes to Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Cambodia. Manufacturers in these countries serve as intermediaries in finishing cotton-based apparel, thus obscuring the provenance of the cotton. You can now read the report.


In Broad Daylight: Uyghur Forced Labour and Global Solar Supply Chains

In Broad Daylight report cover pageBeginning in the spring of 2018, significant evidence began to emerge that the government of the People’s Republic of China understood its system of over 380 detention and internment camps as merely one part of a massive transformation of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR or Uyghur Region) into a docile and lucrative economic hub. While continuing to intern people in camps without trial, local governments shifted their focus to the creation of an enormous forced labour regime. State-sponsored forced labour programmes are employed by companies both within Xinjiang and in the interior of China, affecting the supply chains of a wide variety of industries, including agriculture, electronics, textiles and apparel, sporting goods, and new energy.

Because of the growth of the polysilicon industry in the Uyghur Region, solar industry supply chains are particularly exposed to forced labour of Uyghur and other minoritized citizens. We analysed government documents, state and corporate media, and corporate disclosures to trace the solar module supply chain from quartz to module, revealing how our clean energy is reliant on state-sponsored forced labour. You can now read the report.

Contact: Professor Laura Murphy

Get in touch

Contact the Helena Kennedy Centre to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Email us

Evidence briefs

Murphy, Laura T. and Shawn Bhimani (2020)Xinjiang Forced Labour and the UK Supply Chain, Submission to UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Forced Labour in Xinjiang China. October 2020.

Murphy, Laura T. and Shawn Bhimani (2021)Submission to Inquiry into the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill 2020, Submission to Australian Parliament.

Tobin, David, Laura T. Murphy, Rian Thum, Rachel Harris, and Jo Smith Finley, State Violence in Xinjiang: A Comprehensive Assessment. Submission to the Uyghur Tribunal (PDF, 13.7MB), London, June 4-7, 2021.

Elimä, Nyrola (2021), Forced Labour and the Xinjiang Solar Industry. Statement before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.


BBC (2021), 'If the others go I'll go': Inside China's scheme to transfer Uighurs into work2 March 2021.

The Globe and Mail (2021), Thousands of Uyghur Workers are Being Relocated in an Effort to Assimilate Muslims, Documents Show, 2 March 2021.

Washington Post (2020), Opinion: A New US Rule Could Change What You Wear - And Intervene in a Genocide, 7 December 2020.

Northrop, K. (2021). Hemmed In. The Wire China. 27 June 2021.

Cheung, R. (2021).  The Global Fashion Industry’s Moment of Truth in XinjiangWorld Politics Review. 13 July 2021.

Kusmer, A. (2021).  US bans some solar products from Xinjiang, citing human rights abuses of Uyghur people. The World. 13 July 2021.

Tamborrino, K. (2021). Biden administration to ban solar components from Chinese company over forced labour. Politico. 23 June 2021.

Kristof, N. (2021). One Woman’s Journey Through Chinese Atrocities. The New York Times. 12 June 2021.

Duffy, C. (2021). Solar panels are key to Biden’s energy plan. But the global supply chain may rely on forced labour in China. CNN Business. 14 May 2021.

BBC (2021). China uses Uyghur forced labour to make solar panels, says report. 14 May 2021.

Ma, W. (2021). Seven Apple Suppliers Accused of Using Forced Labour From Xinjiang. The Information. 10 May 2021.

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