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USA: Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft & Tesla face lawsuit over forced child labour in DRC cobalt mines

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Article
10 March 2020

Human rights activist 'forced to flee DRC' over child cobalt mining lawsuit

Author: Annie Kelly, The Guardian

A Congolese human rights activist has said he was forced to flee the country with his family after being linked to a lawsuit accusing the world’s largest tech companies of being complicit in the deaths of children in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In December, the Guardian revealed that a group of families from DRC were launching landmark legal action against Apple, Google, Tesla, Microsoft and Dell. They claim they aided and abetted the deaths and injuries of their children, who were working in mines that they say were linked to the tech companies.

Auguste Mutombo, executive director of Alternatives Plus, a DRC-based NGO that works to improve conditions in the artisanal mining sector, helped facilitate the field research that formed the evidence base for the suit.

He said that shortly after details of the lawsuit went public, he received dozens of death threats in person and via telephone, and text messages from people who claimed to be members of mining cooperatives...

The lawsuit, which was filed by human rights law firm International Rights Advocates, is seeking damages for forced labour and further compensation for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

It is the first time that any of the tech companies have faced such a legal challenge.

 

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Article
13 January 2020

Are These Tech Companies Complicit In Human Rights Abuses Of Child Cobalt Miners In Congo?

Author: Ewelina U. Ochab, Forbes

In late 2019, some of world’s largest tech companies, including Apple, Alphabet (which is the parent company of Google LLC), Microsoft, Dell and Tesla (the Defendants), were named in a lawsuit brought in Washington DC court by 13 Congolese families (the Claimants). The lawsuit alleges that their children were killed or injured while mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)...

The lawsuit alleges that the companies “are knowingly benefiting from and providing substantial support to this ‘artisanal’ mining system in the DRC. Defendants know and have known for a significant period of time the reality that DRC’s cobalt mining sector is dependent upon children, with males performing the most hazardous work in the primitive cobalt mines, including tunnel digging. These boys are working under... 

According to Siddharth Kara, an expert on modern day slavery, “more than 60% of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the ‘copper belt’ of the south-eastern provinces of DRC.” His research suggests that “more than 255,000 creuseurs mining cobalt in DRC, at least 35,000 of whom are children, some as young as six.” His research claims that “children under the age of 14 years earn an average of $0.81 per day, adult females earn an average of $1.02 per day, and adult males earn an average of $2.04 per day.”

To address the issue, in his 2018 article, Kara proposed that “any company sourcing cobalt from DRC must establish an independent, third-party system of verification that all mineral supply chains are cleansed of exploitation, cruelty, slavery, and child labor. They must invest whatever is needed to ensure the decent pay, safe and dignified working conditions, healthcare, education and general wellbeing of the people whose cheap labor they rely on.”

 

 

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Article
17 December 2019

Glencore statement on child labour allegations

Author: Glencore

Glencore takes note of the lawsuit filed in a US court by IRAdvocates on 15 December 2019 regarding child labour in the artisanal mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are not a defendant to this lawsuit...

We offer our condolences and sympathy to the families and the children injured or killed as a result of artisanal mining activities. We do not tolerate any form of child, forced, or compulsory labour in our supply chain. We support and respect human rights in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Glencore does not purchase, process or trade any artisanally mined cobalt or copper...

 We recognise that artisanal mining is prevalent in the DRC and presents risks, particularly for children. As part of our broader strategy as a responsible corporate citizen in the country, we are engaging with the government and other stakeholders to find a sustainable solution. In this regard, Kamoto Copper Company, our operation in the DRC, is implementing a number of measures, including...

The lawsuit references a number of concessions as locations of injury or fatalities, some of which are erroneously claimed to be controlled and operated by KCC. The following concessions are not owned or controlled by KCC...

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Article
16 December 2019

Apple and Google named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths

Author: Annie Kelly, The Guardian

A landmark legal case has been launched against the world’s largest tech companies by Congolese families who say their children were killed or maimed while mining for cobalt used to power smartphones, laptops and electric cars, the Guardian can reveal.

Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Washington DC by human rights firm International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 parents and children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The lawsuit accuses the companies of aiding and abetting in the death and serious injury of children who they claim were working in cobalt mines in their supply chain.

The families and injured children are seeking damages for forced labour and further compensation for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress...

Cobalt is essential to power the rechargeable lithium batteries used in millions of products sold by Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla every year...The extraction of cobalt from DRC has been linked to human rights abuses, corruption, environmental destruction and child labour...The lawsuit argues that Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla all aided and abetted the mining companies that profited from the labour of children who were forced to work in dangerous conditions – conditions that ultimately led to death and serious injury...

A spokesperson for Glencore said: “Glencore supports and respects human rights in a manner consistent with the universal declaration of human rights.“Glencore does not tolerate any form of child, forced, or compulsory labour.” Huayou, Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla have also been approached for comment...

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Article
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Author: 卫报(英国)

【此翻译由企业责任资源中心提供】

《卫报》报道,在具有里程碑意义的诉讼中,刚果(金)受害儿童的家人起诉世界上最大的科技公司,理由是儿童在开采这些公司制造智能手机、笔记本电脑和电动车所使用的钴时严重受伤或死亡。

总部位于华盛顿的国际权利倡导组织(International Rights Advocates)代表14名来自刚果(金)的家长和儿童对苹果、谷歌、戴尔、微软和特斯拉这些科技巨头提起诉讼,指控它们协助和教唆雇佣儿童在其供应链钴矿工作,从而导致儿童死亡和严重受伤。

受伤儿童及其家人就强迫劳动提出赔偿,并要求公司对不当得利、疏于监管和故意致人精神损害进行进一步赔偿……

钴是被诉公司每年出售的数百万产品中可充锂电池的重要组成部分……刚果(金)的钴矿开采长期以来就涉及侵犯人权、腐败、破坏环境和使用童工……诉讼指出,五家公司协助和教唆矿业公司从童工劳动中获利,迫使儿童在危险的条件下工作,最终导致他们严重受伤或死亡……

嘉能可公司(Glencore)的发言人说:“嘉能可按照《世界人权宣言》的原则支持和尊重人权。嘉能可不容忍任何形式的童工劳动或强迫劳动。”华友(Huayou)、苹果、谷歌、戴尔、微软和特斯拉都被要求进行评论……

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Article
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Author: 衛報(英國)

【此翻譯由企業責任資源中心提供】

《衛報》報導,在具有里程碑意義的訴訟中,剛果(金)受害兒童的家人起訴世界上最大的科技公司,理由是兒童在開採這些公司製造智能手機、筆記本電腦和電動車所使用的鈷時嚴重受傷或死亡。

總部位於華盛頓的國際權利倡導組織(International Rights Advocates)代表14名來自剛果(金)的家長和兒童對蘋果、谷歌、戴爾、微軟和特斯拉這些科技巨頭提起訴訟,指控它們協助和教唆僱傭兒童在其供應鏈鈷礦工作,從而導致兒童死亡和嚴重受傷。

受傷兒童及其家人就強迫勞動提出賠償,並要求公司對不當得利、疏於監管和故意致人精神損害進行進一步賠償……

鈷是被訴公司每年出售的數百萬產品中可充鋰電池的重要組成部分……剛果(金)的鈷礦開採長期以來就涉及侵犯人權、腐敗、破壞環境和使用童工……訴訟指出,五家公司協助和教唆礦業公司從童工勞動中獲利,迫使兒童在危險的條件下工作,最終導致他們嚴重受傷或死亡……

嘉能可公司(Glencore)的發言人說:“嘉能可按照《世界人權宣言》的原則支持和尊重人權。嘉能可不容忍任何形式的童工勞動或強迫勞動。”華友(Huayou)、蘋果、谷歌、戴爾、微軟和特斯拉都被要求進行評論……

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Article
15 December 2019

IRAdvocates Files Forced Child Labor Case Against Tech Giants Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla for Aiding and Abetting Extreme Abuse of Children Mining Cobalt in DRC.

Author: International Rights Advocates (USA)

IRAdvocates filed a federal class action lawsuit today...on behalf of 14 Doe Plaintiffs who are either guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses while mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) or children who were maimed in such accidents. The DRC has the world’s largest deposits of cobalt, an essential element of rechargeable lithium-ion battery in products made by all tech and electric car companies...

The lawsuit names Apple, Alphabet (Google), Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla as Defendants. Plaintiffs have evidence that these companies in particular aided and abetted the mines that abused and profited from forcing Plaintiffs and other children to mine cobalt under conditions that led to their deaths or serious, crippling injuries...It is well-documented that the young children mining Defendants’ cobalt are not merely being forced to work full-time, extremely dangerous mining jobs at the expense their educations and futures; they are being regularly maimed and killed... 

Plaintiffs assert claims for forced child labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1595 et. seq. Plaintiffs also seek relief based on common law claims of unjust enrichment, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiffs’ lead counsel, Terry Collingsworth, stated “we will do everything possible to get justice quickly for the children we represent. In my 35 years as a human rights lawyer, I’ve never seen such extreme abuse of innocent children on a large scale. This astounding cruelty and greed need to stop”...

Dr. Liwanga, a DRC national, commented “this is the beginning of the end of impunity for those who have been economically benefiting from child labor in the DRC’s mining industry. DRC children also have an inherent and inalienable right to be protected from economic exploitation.” 

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Lawsuit
15 December 2019

United States District Court for the District of Columbia - Class Complaint for Injuctive Relief and Dammages

Author: International Rights Advocates (USA)

Defendants Apple Inc. (“Apple”), Alphabet, Inc. (“Alphabet”) (which is the parent company of Google LLC) (“Google”), Dell Technologies Inc. (“Dell”), Microsoft Inc. (“Microsoft”), and Tesla Inc. (“Tesla”) are knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”) to mine cobalt, a key component of every rechargeable lithium-ion battery used in the electronic devices these companies manufacture.

The young children mining Defendants’ cobalt are not merely being forced to work full-time, extremely dangerous mining jobs at the expense their educations and futures; they are being regularly maimed and killed by tunnel collapses and other known hazards common to cobalt mining in the DRC... 

The Plaintiffs here are a representative group of children who were forced by extreme poverty to leave school and pursue the only economic option in their region of the DRC -- become “artisanal” cobalt miners. They are officially referred to as “artisanal” miners to dress up the fact that this means they are working in a large informal sector of people, including young children...Miners are regularly maimed or killed when a tunnel collapses, and frequently, the bodies of those trapped in the darkness of rubble are never recovered... 

Defendants Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla are knowingly benefiting from and providing substantial support to this “artisanal” mining system in the DRC. Defendants know and have known for a significant period of time the reality that DRC’s cobalt mining sector is dependent upon children, with males performing the most hazardous work in the primitive cobalt mines, including tunnel digging...

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