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USA: Nestlé and Cargill submit briefs to the Supreme Court arguing that corporations cannot be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute

"Nestle and Cargill Claim Right to Profit from Child Slavery Without Accountability", 2 September 2020.

...agriculture giants Nestlé and Cargill submitted briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases Nestlé USA Inc. vs John Doe 1 and Cargill Inc. v. John Doe 1 arguing that they have immunity from responsibility for human rights abuses alleged by former child slave laborers on cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast of Africa. The plaintiffs sued under the federal Alien Tort Statute, which allows lawsuits for violations of international law.

Marco Simons, General Counsel of the human rights and climate justice organization EarthRights International issued the following statement in response: 

“Nestlé and Cargill are trying to avoid legal responsibility for slave labor, claiming that because they are corporations, they simply cannot be held responsible...According to the plaintiffs, the companies were aware that plantations in their supply chains used child slave labor. Both companies hold enormous sway over the industry there and had plenty of leverage to stop the abuses. The companies had exclusive buying contracts with cocoa growers, regularly visited cacao plantations, and provided financial support, training, and farm supplies. The children who escaped this system sued them, arguing that the companies could have stopped the use of forced labor...Corporations argue that they are ‘persons’ when it suits them, like when they want to influence elections, or avoid obligations to provide healthcare to women. But when it comes to accountability for severe abuses, they claim that only actual human beings can be held responsible...

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