Arizona recently signed into law HB 2488, thus prohibiting the state from contracting with a company unless the entity provides certification that it does not use ethnic Uyghurs for forced labor.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Justin Wilmeth, R-Phoenix. The nine bipartisan cosponsors included Leo Biasiucci, R-Lake Havasu; Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix; Frank Carroll, R-Sun City West; Rep. Joseph Chaplick, R-Scottsdale; Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix; Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix; Teresa Martinez, R-Casa Grande; Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley; and Rep. Amish Shah, D-Phoenix.
On June 7th, HB 2488 was unanimously passed in the final read. The bill was later signed by Gov. Doug Ducey on June 13th.
“This is my 10th bill to be signed into law this session. And it’s one I’m extremely proud of because it’s a way Arizona can make a statement and stand against Communism and tyranny,” posted Wilmeth after the bill was signed into law.
The bill is in response to the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority population known as the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang province of the People’s Republic of China.
According to the Congressional Research Service, “The PRC government has pressured many Uyghurs, including former detainees, into accepting employment in textile, apparel, agricultural, consumer electronics, and other labor-intensive industries. Some factories utilizing Uyghur labor are tied to global supply chains. Uyghurs who refuse to accept such employment, which often involves heavy surveillance and political indoctrination, may face detention.”
Rep. Wilmeth noted the parallels between the Uyghurs and other oppressed groups in the past.
“As a student of history, I know what happens when good people remain silent,” said Rep. Wilmeth, “This new law, which was passed with strong bipartisan support, sends a clear message that the State of Arizona won’t do business with anyone that turns a blind eye to this horrible human rights abuse.”
The bill states, “A public entity may not enter into or renew a contract with a company unless the contract includes a written certification that the company does not for the duration of the contract use the forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China.”
Public entities include any government organizations tied to the state of Arizona, while companies include any for-profit ventures.
The bill continues to note that, “If a company that has provided a written certification…becomes aware during the term of the contract that the company is not in compliance…the company shall notify the public entity within five business days.”
HB 2488 is one of multiple governmental steps addressing the issue, following similar national legislation, such as how U.S. Customs and Border Protection has blocked suspected forced labor products from Xinjiang since October 2019.