Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen use cobalt mined by children slaves.
Multinational corporations not only secure the largest transfer of wealth from the hands of the poorest people in the world to 62 billionaires, they do so by abusing child workers as young as 10 years of age who are used to mine cobalt in slavery-like working conditions.
An Amnesty International report has called on companies to verify the origin of the cobalt purchases in Congo, where children as young as 1o years of age are slave workers in the cobalt mines.
Technology corporations such as Apple, Samsung and Sony do not do enough to verify that their products do not use cobalt extracted with child labor in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), denounced Amnesty International (AI).
In a new report, Amnesty International and the NGO Afrewatch document how cobalt is purchased from areas where child labor is widespread. Children are slave laborers in Congo’s Dongfang Mining (CDM), a subsidiary of Chinese Huayong Cobalt, which distributes batteries to manufacturers supplying companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.
“It’s time for the big brands take part of the responsibility of the extraction of raw materials with which they make lucrative products,” said AI researcher on business and human rights, Mark Dummett.
At least 50% of worldwide cobalt comes out of the DRC, where some 40,000 children work in mines, according to a Unicef report from 2014.
The report documents how Congolese children, who claim to work up to 12 hours in the mines, earn between 1 and $ 2 a day.
“I spent 24 hours down there in the tunnels. Morning came and I left. I had to relieve myself down there,” says Paul, an orphan boy of 14 years of age, who began working in mining at 12.
The organization also found that the vast majority of miners work without basic protection to prevent lung or skin diseases.
AI contacted multinational clients listed as battery manufacturers that source Huayou Cobalt and although some said they were investigating the matter, “none provided enough data to independently verify where their cobalt came from.”
Amnesty International’s report explains that “major electronics brands like Apple, Samsung and Sony do not do enough to ensure that its products are not made with cobalt extracted with child labor.”
In the words of Dummett, although many of these multinationals say they have a policy of zero tolerance for child labor, “this promise is worthless if companies do not investigate their suppliers”.
Governments, he added, “should end this lack of transparency which enables companies to profit from the misery.”
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