Five of the world’s largest tech companies have been accused of being involved in the death of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The children were forced to mine cobalt, a metal used to make telephones and computers. The landmark lawsuit was filed on behalf of 14 families from Congo by the international Rights Advocates, a U.S based human rights non-profit organization in Washington D.C.
The suit was filed against Tesla Inc, Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc, Microsoft Corp and Dell Technologies Inc. according to the documents of the suit filed against the companies, it stated that they were part of a system of forced labor that led to the death and serious injury of some kids in the Republic of Congo.
In an effort to attest to this suit, images in the court document filed in U.S District Court in Washington D.C showed children with disfigured or missing limbs.
It is however a fact that more than half of the world’s cobalt is produced in Congo. Cobalt is essential in making rechargeable lithium batteries used in for millions of products sold by the tech industries.
Some months ago, it was reported in a local news headlines that kids under the age of six were forced to leave school as a result of their families extreme poverty to work in cobalt mine owned by a British mining company called Glencore. Which is in turn patronized by the aforementioned tech giant companies.
In a bid to debunk the suit, A Glencore spokesman said “Glencore’s production of cobalt in the DRC is a by-product of our industrial copper production. Glencore’s operations in the DRC do not purchase or process any artisan-ally mined ore.
“Glencore does not tolerate any form of child, forced, or compulsory labor.”
According to Kara Siddhard a senior researcher of modern slavery, also an expert witness in the case, said that “more than 40 million people have been estimated to be a part of modern slavery. Which includes forced labor and forced marriage.
Microsoft, Apple, Tesla, Google, are yet to comment to the suit .
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