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10 Mar 2020

Annie Kelly, The Guardian

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

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.


Part of the following timelines

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

Lawsuit against Apple, Google, Tesla, and others (re child labour, DRC)