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6 Mar 2024

Jonathan Stempel, Reuters,
Zonebourse et Reuters

USA: 5 major tech companies not liable over alleged support of child labour in DRC cobalt mining operations, Appeals Court rules


"US court sides with Apple, Tesla, other tech companies over child labor in Africa," 05 March 2024

A federal appeals court... refused to hold five major technology companies liable over their alleged support for the use of child labor in cobalt mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

...the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Tesla, rejecting an appeal by former child miners and their representatives.

The plaintiffs accused the five companies of joining suppliers in a "forced labor" venture by purchasing cobalt ...

The 16 plaintiffs included representatives of five children who were killed in cobalt mining operations.

...The appeals court said buying cobalt in the global supply chain did not amount to "participation in a venture" under a federal law protecting children and other victims of human trafficking and forced labor. ...

...A lawyer for the plaintiffs... said his clients may appeal further ...

Dell said in a statement it was committed to upholding the human rights of workers throughout its supply chain, and has never knowingly sourced products made with child labor.

Google had no immediate comment.

Apple, Microsoft, Tesla and their respective lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

[The] decision upheld a November 2021 dismissal by U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols in Washington. The cobalt suppliers included Eurasian Resources Group, Glencore, Umicore and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, court papers show. None was named as a defendant. ...

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