Hearing on Monday, Feb. 6th in LA and Protest Outside the Courthouse to Demand an End to Forced Child Labor on Cocoa Farms.
Just In Time for Valentine’s Day:
Nestle Taken to Court for Trafficking, Torture, and Beatings of Child Laborers on West African Cocoa Farms
Hearing on Monday, Feb. 6th in LA and Protest Outside the Courthouse to Demand an End to Forced Child Labor on Cocoa Farms
WHEN: Monday, February 6, 2006, 12:30 Protest, 1:30 time hearing
WHERE: US District Court #6, 312 N. Spring St, Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles, CA - On Monday, February 6th, just a week before Valentine’s Day, the first court hearing is scheduled for a lawsuit filed against Nestle, Cargill, and Archer Daniels-Midland for allowing forced child labor to be used on their West African cocoa farms. Human rights groups have long criticized the chocolate industry for failing to stop illegal child labor, including child slavery, on West African cocoa farms, but this is the first time the issue is going to court. The charges against the companies include trafficking, torture, and forced labor of children who cultivate and harvest cocoa beans, which the companies import from Africa.
“Valentine’s Day chocolate definitely isn’t going to taste as sweet when consumers find out it was made with illegal child labor. The chocolate industry has known about this problem for years, and now they’re facing the repercussions in court,” said Kirsten Moller, executive director of Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based human rights group that is party to the lawsuit. Global Exchange and the Organic Consumers Association will hold a creative protest outside the courthouse just prior to the hearing to demand that Nestle stop using illegal child labor and switch to Fair Trade cocoa.
The lawsuit was filed by the Washington, DC-based International Labor Rights Fund and the civil rights firm Wiggins, Childs, Quinn & Pantazis on behalf of a class of Malian children who were trafficked from Mali to the Ivory Coast and forced to work 12- to 14-hour days with no pay, little food and sleep, and frequent beatings. The suit was brought under two federal statutes, the Torture Victims Protection Act and the Alien Tort Claims Act, the same laws that were used to win a settlement from Unocal for human rights violations in Burma.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), US Department of State and UNICEF, thousands of children work on cocoa farms in West Africa, particularly in Ivory Coast. The US chocolate industry agreed to work toward ending illegal child labor on cocoa farms through a voluntary protocol called the Harkin-Engel Protocol. But that protocol expired on July 1, 2005, and the industry failed to come up with system for monitoring and certifying that US chocolate products aren’t made using forced child labor.
Global Exchange, Organic Consumers Association and the International Labor Rights Fund have been urging Nestle and other chocolate companies to address the problem of illegal child labor by buying their cocoa beans from farms that are Fair Trade certified. Fair Trade ensures that cocoa farmers receive a fair price for their harvest. Slave labor is strictly prohibited on Fair Trade farms, and farms are inspected to ensure that Fair Trade standards are being met.
Information provided by:
Fair Trade Chocolate Campaign
Date: Monday, February 06, 2006
Time: 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
US District Court #6
312 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA United States
Carlos Martinez, Fair Trade Chocolate Campaign
Sponsor(s): Fair Trade Chocolate Campaign. Information on non-ASC events is posted for informational purposes at the request of the sender and does not reflect opinions of or endorsements by African Studies Center personnel.