Apple, Samsung and Sony Linked to Child labour in Africa – Amnesty International
The Human rights organisation, Amnesty International has accused Apple, Samsung and Sony, among other technology companies, of failing to do basic checks to ensure minerals used in their products are not mined by children.
Cobalt is a a vital component of lithium-ion batteries and is therefore widely used in a number of savvy tech gadgets.
In a report on Cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it found children as young as seven working in dangerous conditions.The DRC produces at least 50% of the world’s cobalt. Miners working in the area face long-term health problems and the risk of fatal accidents as at least 80 miners had died underground in southern DRC between September 2014 and December 2015, according to Amnesty.
It also collected the testimonies of children who allegedly work in the mines and UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 40,000 children working in mines across southern DRC..
Paul, a 14-year-old orphan, started mining when he was 12 and told researchers: “I would spend 24 hours down in the tunnels. I arrived in the morning and would leave the following morning … I had to relieve myself down in the tunnels… My foster mother planned to send me to school, but my foster father was against it, he exploited me by making me work in the mine.”
The Amnesty report, which was jointly researched with African Resources Watch (Afrewatch), traced how traders buy cobalt from areas where child labour is rife, selling it on to firm Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd.
Amnesty contacted 16 multinationals who were listed as customers of the battery manufacturers, who in turn source minerals from Huayou Cobalt.
One company admitted the connection while four others were unable to say for certain the source of the cobalt they used. Five denied sourcing the mineral from the firm, despite being listed as customers in company documents and two others said that they did not source cobalt from DRC.
Six firms said that they were investigating the claims.
The executive director of Afrewatch (Africa Resources Watch) Emmanuel Umpula says “The abuses in mines remain out of sight and out of mind because in today’s global marketplace, consumers have no idea about the conditions at the mine, factory and assembly line. We found that traders are buying cobalt without asking questions about how and where it was mined.”
It should be noted that the majority of the children working in the mining industry in DRC do not enter the underground mines but perform a variety of tasks on the surface, including scavenging for ore and sorting minerals that have been mined underground.
Source: BBC News