US Department of Labor Lists Cocoa, Cotton and Other Goods as Products Made by Forced, Child Labor

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Brian Campbell, brian.campbell[at]ilrf.org, 202-347-4100 x102 or 202-701-3021
Tim Newman, tim.newman[at]ilrf.org, 202-347-4100 x113 or 617-823-9464

 

US Department of Labor Lists Cocoa, Cotton and Other Goods as Products Made by Forced, Child Labor

WASHINGTON - Today, the US Department of Labor (DOL) released its second list of goods believed to have been
produced using forced or child labor globally. DOL also releases its 2010
Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor and a list of products produced by
forced or indentured child labor as required by Executive Order 13126. 
The list of goods includes a number of industries where the International Labor
Rights Forum (ILRF) has identified these labor rights abuses to occur including
cocoa, cotton, tobacco and rubber.

As part of the Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act of 2005 (TVPRA of 2005), DOL's Bureau of
International Labor Affairs (ILAB) was tasked with "develop[ing] and
mak[ing] available to the public a list of goods from countries that the Bureau
of International Labor Affairs has reason to believe are produced by forced
labor or child labor in violation of international standards."  ILRF
is pleased to see that USDOL has published a second edition of this useful
resource.  A continued commitment to updating the list will help consumers and
businesses received timely information and identify sectors that require
particular focus.

Since 2001, ILRF has been pushing US-based cocoa
importers and chocolate companies like Hershey to take effective action to end
the use of child, trafficked and forced labor on West African cocoa
farms.  ILRF Campaigns Director Tim Newman said,
"By including cocoa on the list of products made by child labor, the US
government has acknowledged the lack of progress the chocolate industry has
made in eliminating serious labor rights abuses in this sector, despite years
of promises."   

ILRF has also been working to stop forced and child
labor in the cotton industry globally, especially in Uzbekistan.  Reports published
by ILRF and its global partners have confirmed the ongoing removal of thousands
of children from schools across Uzbekistan
who are forced to pick cotton during harvest season. While many of
world's largest retailers have agreed to address the severe abuses
associated with Uzbek cotton in their supply chains, the children's
clothing store Gymboree remain silent on this issue despite requests from
consumers and shareholders for the company to take action on this issue.   

Other additional products that ILRF has publicly
identified potentially produced by forced and/or child labor that appear on the
official list are: cotton from Tajikistan,
cottonseed and stones from India,
rubber from Liberia, sugarcane
from Guatemala, surgical
instruments from Pakistan
and tobacco from Malawi. 
ILRF also has a long history of working to eliminate child labor in the soccer
ball industry in India. 
The fact that many of these products have been listed by USDOL for the second
time indicates that stronger efforts are urgently required to end egregious
labor rights abuses in these sectors.

Commenting on the importance of the list, Brian Campbell, ILRF Director of Policy and Legal Programs,
said, "This list is a critical tool that consumers and businesses can use
to identify the sectors where forced and child labor abuses continue.  The
challenge now is to implement business practices that lead to higher labor
standards and living and working conditions for workers."

Tim
Newman added
, "We support USDOL in its efforts to
identify products imported to the United States made using forced and
child labor. We hope that future iterations of USDOL's list of goods will
continue the work of this year's report in expanding the number of
countries that are investigated in the creation of the list."

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ILRF is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment for workers worldwide. ILRF serves a unique role among human rights organizations as advocates for and with working poor around the world. We believe that all workers have the right to a safe working environment where they are treated with dignity and respect, and where they can organize freely to defend and promote their rights and interests.

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