OCTOBER 23, 2018
Contact: Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director (202)-543-5811; firstname.lastname@example.org
A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on October 23, 2018 that the IRAdvocates’ lawsuit on behalf of former child slaves against Nestle and Cargill for using child slaves in Cote D’Ivoire to harvest cocoa can proceed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. § 1350. The Court solidly rejected the companies’ cynical, if not ridiculous, argument that under new decisions by the Supreme Court no cases can be brought where the actual harmful act, in this case the enslaving of children to harvest cocoa, occurred outside of the United States. The Court squarely held that Plaintiffs’ case can proceed based on the legal theory that these two giant multinationals “aided and abetted” child slavery from their corporate offices in the United States by continuing across many years to knowingly purchase cocoa that was harvested by child slaves and providing funds, supplies, training and other assistance to the plantations in Cote D’Ivoire that the companies knew were using child slaves. Nestle and Cargill, along with most other major cocoa companies, recently admitted that they had failed to meet the deadlines they themselves set to voluntarily stop using child slaves by 2020 in Cote D’Ivoire under the “Harkin-Engels” protocol. They did not set a new deadline, and their admission of not meeting their deadline is necessarily an express admission that they ARE CONTINUING to use child slaves.
This case remains one of the only viable options for forcing the companies to do what they promised back in 2001 to do when they signed the protocol -- stop knowingly profiting from child slavery! There are several possible legal hurdles remaining, including the companies seeking further review by the Supreme Court, but IRAdvocates, along with their co-counsel Paul Hoffman and Catherine Sweetser at Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP, are committed to obtaining long-delayed justice for the child slaves Nestle and Cargill knowingly have profited from. Assuming there is no further appellate review, the Plaintiffs are anxious to being preparing for trial in a case that was first filed in 2005. Nestle and Cargill executives should soon be testifying under oath about their role in perpetuating child slavery for years. To assure accountability, the legal team will soon be filing a new complaint against Nestle, Cargill and other major companies for knowingly benefitting from the trafficking of children into slavery to harvest cocoa for these companies.
IRAdvocates is a non-profit legal advocacy group dedicated to seeking creative legal strategies to hold multinational companies accountable for human rights violations in the global economy. For further developments on this and other cases, see www.iradvocates.org.