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12 Apr 2021

NGOs file lawsuit in France against Inditex, Uniqlo, SMCP & Skechers over allegations of profiting from Uyghur forced labour

In April 2021, Sherpa, the Collectif Ethique sur l’étiquette, the Uyghur Institute of Europe and a Uyghur victim filed lawsuit in France against global clothing brands: Inditex, Uniqlo, SMCP & Skechers.

They accuse the companies of profiting from Uyghur forced labour in the Xinjiang region of China by continuing to subcontract part of their production or to market goods using cotton produced in the region despite reports of forced labour there.

Further complaints were filed in other European countries.

On 12 April 2023, the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecution Office closed the inquiry into this claim, on the grounds that it lacked jurisdiction to prosecute this type of offence. As these crimes fall under shared competence between the Anti-Terrorism Prosecution Office and investing judge, the NGOs filed a complaint with the latter requesting a judicial investigation against the same garment companies on 17 May 2023. According to the NGOs, "this complaint is based on the offence of concealment of four crimes: crimes against humanity, genocide, aggravated bondage and human trafficking in an organised gang."

Companies denied the accusations.