Contact: Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director
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On February 12, 2021, eight formerly enslaved Malian nationals filed a federal Complaint (PDF below) against Nestle, Cargill, Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Olam and Barry Callebaut under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (“TVPRA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1595 et. seq., alleging that when they were children they were trafficked from Mali and then forced to work on cocoa plantations in Cote D’Ivoire that supply to the Defendant companies. The horrible conditions they endured as cocoa slaves are described in this article about the Plaintiffs in a related case:
On July 30, 2021, Nestle, Cargill, Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Olam and Barry Callebaut responded to the TVPRA Complaint with a Motion to Dismiss (PDF below). The companies’ response is a remarkable collection of objectively verifiable lies. Twenty years after they acted collectively and signed the Harkin-Engel Protocol in 2001 and promised to end their admitted use of the “worst forms of child labor,” they argue to a U.S. federal judge that they are mere purchasers of cocoa, they don’t have sufficient knowledge of forced child labor to be liable, they have no control over the cocoa farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, because they are so far removed from cocoa harvesting operations, holding them liable for using cocoa harvested by enslaved children would be akin to holding consumers of chocolate liable, and, by the way, they “strongly condemn the use of forced labor.”
The companies' legal position conflicts directly with the claims they have made in public statements and on their websites directed to consumers and regulators since 2001 that they were working to end their use of all forms of child labor in cocoa production. They claim to have close relationships with their farmers and have been working directly with them to eradicate child labor. Of course we knew that the companies were lying and were merely using a public relations strategy to deceive consumers and regulators. Indeed, a new U.S. Department of Labor study released in October 2020 confirmed that child labor in cocoa production has gotten worse since the companies promised to stop their reliance on child labor and that 1.56 million children harvest cocoa TODAY in Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana: http://iradvocates.org/news/nestle/department-labor-study-child-labor The companies’ shocking position in federal court directly confirms that they will do just about anything to keep profiting from enslaved children.
Please help IRAdvocates hold Nestle, Cargill, Mars, Hershey, Mondelez, Olam and Barry Callebaut legally accountable once and for all.
Please join the fight and contribute so that we can have the resources to take on these powerful multinationals and their giant law firms:
Alternatively, please send your contribution to our efforts to end child slavery to International Rights Advocates, 621 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002.
Please contact the companies and send a strong message that you will never buy their chocolate until they stop using enslaved children to harvest cocoa:
Links: Mars/M&M, The Hershey Company, Cargill, Nestle, Barry Callebaut, Mondelez, and Olam.
In 1865, slavery was abolished in the United States by the Thirteenth Amendment. Please help us to stop these chocolate companies from continuing to profit from slavery in 2021!