Willful Ignorance as Coping Mechanism to Be Blamed for Child Slavery
Willful Ignorance as Coping Mechanism to Be Blamed for Child Slavery
Eleven years ago, three individuals from Global Exchange ( organization for human rights) and Mali filed a class action lawsuit in federal court of California under pseudonyms against Cargill, Nestlé, and Archer Daniels Midland. The individuals reportedly alleged they had been trafficked as child slaves from Mali and forced to work in Côte d’ivoire for cultivating and harvesting cocoa beans. The plaintiffs reported that they were compelled to work longer hours without a wage, suffered physical abuse by employers, and were kept caged in rooms after longer and exhausting working hours. The plaintiffs alleged that the organizations supported, encouraged, and neglected to restrain torture, which they had to go through being the victim of child slavery. The lawsuit claimed violations of the US
Constitution and California State Law’s Torture Victim Protection Act and Alien Tort Claims Act. Further, the plaintiffs went on record claiming
that the organizations’ economy reaps benefits from the child labor violations Customary International Law, International Labor Conventions, and the Law Of Nations.
Nestlé, one of the world’s largest food companies by revenue, filed a motion in August 2005, to coerce the real names of plaintiffs who served as a child labor, which was immediately opposed by the individuals who filed the case. Additionally, the defendants filed a motion seeking the lawsuit dismissal, which alleged they abetted and aided child slavery. Further details were ordered to be filed by the Federal Court on 27 July 2006 regarding abetting and aiding child labor standards. The court dismissed the lawsuit on 8 September 2010 concluding that it could not be claimed under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The Federal Court claimed that current authorities did not manifest that corporate liability was well established and universally sufficient to satisfy prerogative under the Alien Tort Claims Act.
The plaintiffs solicited the dismissal. A Federal Appeals Court repealed the ruling in December 2013, which was passed in 2010, allowing plaintiffs to re- file the class action lawsuit.
Overturning and abandoning the dismissal of the lawsuit by the lower court, the Federal Appeals Court alternated its opinion of December 2013 with an expanded version. The fresh sets of expanded opinion were established for offering the plaintiffs to rectify their complaint to demonstrate the link their allegations have to the U. S. to address the holding of the US Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Shell case. The court established that the plaintiffs can bring their claim under the case of Alien Tort because of the prohibition against child slavery universally. The defendants filed a motion to Supreme Court seeking dismissal of ruling given by the Federal Appeals Court and want it to decide if organizations were liable to be subjected under the Alien Tort Claims Act. In January 2016, placing a temporary halt over the nagging issue, the Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal made by three giant defendants seeking the lawsuit dismissal, which was alleging they abetted and aided child slavery in Africa for cocoa plantations.
Nestlé’s Worst Irony: Fairy God Father to Some, Dreadful Giant to Another
Modern Slavery, as people quote the concept of child labor, has taken the worst turn anyone could’ve ever envisaged.
It’s tough to think of an issue, which you would less prefer your organization to be associated with rather than child slavery in the modern age. Yet, Nestlé, the largest foodmaker and one of the most recognized brands in the world is found guilty of encouraging forced child labor in its Thailand- based supply chains.
The products, which we’ve been consuming probably since ages is tainted with the miserable, poor, malnourished, abused, and unpaid migrant child slaves’ blood and sweat. How does that sound to you?
Minors under the age of 15 are forced to work for Nestlé’s cocoa farms, more than a decade after the giant food manufacturer promised to put an end to child slavery in its supply chain.
Ivory Coast is the largest producer of cocoa in the world and the industry is evaluated to be approximately of worth £ 60 billion per year. It is sad to know that it is also one of the major hubs for child slavery.
Nestlé announced it was transforming itself into a new era, which would lead to selfpolicing of company’s personal supply chain. The company independently disclosed that customers were unwittingly buying Nestlé products that were contaminated with the cases of worst labor abuses.
The company’s brief investigation, which continued for a year confirmed the reports by media that Thailandbased seafood industry is riddled with human trafficking and forced child slavery.
Researchers from the Fair Labor Association, which was commissioned to investigate rights of the workers in West African farms by Nestlé in 2013, found 7% child labor at the total farms visited on Ivory Coast.
Though FLA researchers discovered Nestlé making substantial efforts to educate farmers about its company’s code of conduct, code awareness was found significantly in a low amount with farmers being unable to attend the sessions due to lack of time and interest. Researchers also found that farms belonging to Nestlé lacked any type of system for age verification for labors to prohibit the use of child slavery.
Allegations of workers’ rights exploitation and child labor continue to hound Nestlé since years. HarkinEngel Protocol was signed by Nestlé in 2001, which was a voluntary arrangement by politicians and members of the cocoa industry to work towards bringing an end to child labor.
Much to everyone’s surprise, exactly four years later, Terry Collingsworth, a prominent human rights lawyer filed a class action lawsuit against the Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Nestlé, alleging that these giants offered substantial assistance to cocoa plantation owners who practiced child slavery.
Offset The Convenience of Willful Ignorance
The legal imperative for numerous multinational giants to start seriously dealing with labor abuses in the field of their business operations is growing. Legislation in the United States and the United Kingdom requires bigger organizations to publish yearly reports addressing their efforts to maintain their business model free of child labor and any kind of the slavery practiced in the corporation.
California Transparency in Supply Chains Act’s success has been uneven, but it certainly has spawned a string of civil litigation suits, with workers and consumers using the legislation to hurl legal actions against organizations they accuse of formulating misguiding public statements on anti- slavery initiatives taken by them.
Apparently, Nestlé approving media reports on its Thailand- based supply chain has been considered as groundbreaking disclosure by many. Nick Grono, who happens to be the chief executive of Freedom Fund, an NGO that has heavily invested in initiatives concerning anti- trafficking in Thailand, believes admission of Nestlé could act as a considerable drive in adjusting the parameters of business expectations when it arrives at the accountability of supply chains.
Introducing diligence when it comes to maintaining transparency within supply chains is very important. In the modern age, the task of working out whether the human rights exploitations are involved in the child slavery, product sourcing, or human trafficking on the other end of the world is not difficult at all. The world is relatively shrinking and organizations have a fair share of responsibilities to assure that any form of human rights exploitation isn’t taking place.
The issue revolving around child slavery, human trafficking, etc., is certainly considered by companies. While companies do care about their operations’ ethics and know the whereabouts, the major setback occurs when they avoid active investigation of their supply chains. Willful ignorance is a concept, which companies should prefer getting rid of.
IMAGE: Child Labor
IMAGE: Child Slavery in Pakistan