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Full Report: "A Bitter Harvest: Child Labor and Human Rights Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe"

Author: Human Rights Watch (USA), Published on: 9 April 2018

Human Rights Watch research in 2016 and 2017 into conditions on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe revealed an industry tainted by child labor and confronted by other serious human rights problems as well. Zimbabwean authorities and tobacco companies should take urgent steps to address child labor and other human rights abuses that may be undermining the sector’s contributions to economic growth and improved livelihoods. This report—based on extensive field research and interviews with 64 small-scale tobacco farmers...as well as 61 hired workers on tobacco farms in the largest tobacco-growing provinces in Zimbabwe—found several serious human rights problems in the tobacco sector. Many children under 18 work in hazardous conditions on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe, often performing tasks that threaten their health and safety or interfere with their education. Adults involved in tobacco production—both small-scale farmers and hired workers—face serious health and safety risks, but the government and tobacco companies are failing to ensure that workers have sufficient information, training, and equipment to protect themselves. Hired workers on some large-scale tobacco farms said they were pushed to work excessive hours without overtime compensation, denied their wages, and forced to go weeks or months without pay...Tobacco companies also have an important role in respecting human rights in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector. Many major global tobacco product manufacturers, such as British American Tobacco, and leaf merchant companies like Alliance One International and Universal Leaf Tobacco who supply to other major manufacturers, purchase tobacco in Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch contacted these companies and 28 others regarding human rights concerns in tobacco farming in Zimbabwe and requested information about the policies and systems companies have in place to identify, prevent, and address human rights abuses in their supply chains...

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