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Zimbabwe: HRW report claims child labour & rights abuses rife in tobacco farms

Human Rights Watch recently released a report titled A Bitter Harvest: Child Labour and Human Rights Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe, documenting how children work in hazardous conditions, performing tasks that threaten their health and safety or interfere with their education. Human Rights Watch said cases of child labour, worker exploitation and low pay are rife in Zimbabwe's tobacco farms. Human Rights Watch wrote to 31 tobacco companies, including the eight companies that accounted for 86 percent of the tobacco purchase market share in Zimbabwe in 2016.

Reports HRW, "We also wrote to several companies with whom we had previously corresponded regarding child labor on tobacco farms in other countries. The companies included 12 multinational tobacco companies: Altria Group, Alliance One International (AOI), British American Tobacco (BAT), China National Tobacco Corporation, Intercontinental Leaf Tobacco (ILT), Contraf Nicotex Tobacco GmbH (CNT), Imperial Tobacco (Imperial), Japan Tobacco International (JTI), Rift Valley Corporation/Northern Tobacco (NT), Premium Tobacco Group (Premium)/Premium Tobacco Zimbabwe (PTZ), Philip Morris International (PMI) and Universal Corporation (Universal); and three Zimbabwean tobacco leaf merchant companies: Boostafrica Traders (Boostafrica), Chidziva Tobacco Processors (Chidziva), and Curverid Tobacco Limited (Curverid). We did not contact other Zimbabwean companies with smaller market shares. Altria Group and Philip Morris International stated that they do not purchase tobacco in Zimbabwe. Intercontinental Leaf Tobacco, and China National Tobacco Company, which operates in Zimbabwe through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tian Ze, did not respond to Human Rights Watch. Boostafrica responded to Human Rights Watch but requested that the response be kept confidential. Most tobacco companies purchasing tobacco in Zimbabwe that responded to Human Rights Watch stated they have detailed child labor and labor policies in place, including a prohibition on children performing most tasks involving contact with green tobacco, which they implement in their direct contracting.

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