Defense Department to Review Retail Supply Chains for Uyghur Forced Labor
Washington, December 8, 2020
Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) successfully secured a provision in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) targeting products imported from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and sold in military commissaries and exchanges.
“The forced labor of Uyghurs has reached global supply chains, making its way into the products we use every day,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Goods imported from Xinjiang, where there is overwhelming evidence of systemic forced labor, should not have a place on the shelves of U.S. military commissaries, and companies that choose to be complicit in these human rights abuses should not profit off Americans in uniform. I am proud of the bipartisan commitment to this issue, and look forward to working with DoD to ensure its retail supply chains don’t perpetuate forced labor practices.”
The provision requires the U.S. Comptroller General to review the policies and processes used by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for purchasing goods as part of retail supply chains from regions where forced labor may be used, specifically the XUAR. The review and subsequent briefing to Congress would detail whether DoD has processes in place to prevent goods sourced from forced labor from being sold in commissaries and exchanges, what information is obtained from suppliers regarding the source of their goods and the use of forced labor, and if and how DoD coordinates with other federal agencies on the issue of retail goods sourced from forced labor.
The Comptroller General would provide a briefing to the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services no later than June 1, 2021 on the review, and submit a report o f their findings by December 1, 2021.
Congresswoman Wexton has been a leading voice in Congress in condemning and combatting Uyghur forced labor. Wexton, whose district is home to one of the largest Uyghur diaspora populations in the U.S., authored and passed through the House the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act in September 2020.
Systemic forced labor of the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR has fed into the supply chains used by some of the best-known global brands, producing goods ranging from clothing to electronics to personal protective equipment and medical facemasks.
The full text of the provision can be found here.