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Uzbekistan Expels International Labor Rights Consultant

Uzbekistan has reportedly arrested and deported an international labor rights expert who was looking into labor practices in the Central Asian country.

A release from the Cotton Campaign advocacy group said a consultant for the firm Just Solutions Network Ltd., Andre Mrost, was investigating use of child labor in Uzbekistan's cotton harvesting.

His presence in Uzbekistan was one of the conditions the World Bank insisted upon in order to free up loans for Uzbekistan's agricultural sector, it said.

The statement quoted Mrost as saying "three men in black" and three policemen approached him on March 19, demanded his passport and took him to a police station.

Mrost said he was interrogated, first by a representative from Uzbekistan's Labor Ministry, then by police, and finally by representatives of the national security service.

Mrost said he was forced to sign a document he could not understand, since it was written in Uzbek, and then escorted to the airport where passport control stamped his passport with an order prohibiting his reentry.

Mrost had met with representatives of rights groups while he was in Uzbekistan.

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