The world’s largest food producer, Nestle, is being sued over allegations that it used child slaves to harvest cocoa in the Ivory Coast.
Nestle attempted to have the allegations thrown out of court after the confectionary giant was accused of using child labourers for its chocolate products.
However Reuters report that the US Supreme Court rejected the appeal from Nestle to dismiss the lawsuit which was left in place by the high court in December 2014.
The plaintiffs, from Mali, have accused the companies of aiding and abbetting human rights violations through the purchasing of cocoa from the Ivory Coast.
They claim that the companies were aware of the problem of child slavery in the region, and still provided financial and technical assistance to local farmers so that they could get the cheapest product possible.
The campaign director from the International Labour Rights Forum – which originally filed the lawsuit – Abby McGill, told The Independent:
We have fought for a long time to bring accountability to supply chains and to bring redress for the victims.
They claim that a US Department of Labor-sponsored report from July 2015, reports that there are an astounding 2.12 million child labourers in the Ivory Coast and Ghana employed in cocoa production.
That’s a huge increase from last year’s figures of around 1 million.
Disgustingly, US companies have fought off similar lawsuits quite easily, because judges ruled that the cases brought against them did not directly impact the US.
This is due to a ruling in 2013 that makes it harder for plaintiffs to sue corporations in US courts for abuses alleged to have happened overseas.
The US Chamber of Commerce however has urged the court to hear the case.
Patti Rundall, policy director at campaign group at International Baby Food Action Network, has challenged Nestle’s controversial business practices for over 30 years.
Rundall welcomed the news that the case hadn’t been immediately dismissed, but said there is still work to be done.
Every time you eat their chocolate you are benefitting from child slavery.
There is very little cocoa production that isn’t sourced in a bad way and it will take a long time to change that due to the nature of large corporations.