USA: court rejects complaint against child labor in DRC USA: court rejects complaint against child labor in DRC

USA: court rejects complaint against child labor in DRC

USA: court rejects complaint against child labor in DRC

In the United States, the District of Columbia Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Google, Apple, Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Tesla, accused of supporting child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The plaintiffs represent 14 unnamed victims, family members of children killed in collapsing tunnels or walls, or children mutilated in the same circumstances. The plaintiffs accused the five companies of partnering with suppliers in a business of “forced labor” by purchasing cobalt, which is used to make lithium-ion batteries widely used in electronics. 

But the appeals court said purchasing cobalt in the global supply chain did not constitute "participation in a business" under the federal law protecting children and other victims of human trafficking and forced labor.

Judge Neomi Rao said the plaintiffs were entitled to seek damages, but had failed to prove that the five companies had more than a buyer-seller relationship with the suppliers, or that they had the power to end child labor.

For the plaintiffs, this decision strongly encourages companies to avoid any transparency with their suppliers, even as they promise the public to apply a “zero tolerance” policy with regard to child labor.

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