SOME OF the world’s top chocolate producers – including Nestle and Mars – are facing a US court case accused of employing child slavery on African cocoa farms.
Eight young adults from Mali have launched legal action against the world’s most powerful chocolate companies – including Nestle, Mars, and Hershey – claiming that they were exploited as child slaves on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast.
In an unprecedented case, the defendants are accused of having “knowingly profited” from the use of child slaves in their West African cocoa supply chain. Ivory Coast produces 45% of the world’s cocoa, chocolate’s core ingredient, and the local industry surrounding its cultivation has long been blighted by human rights abuse and child exploitation.
The companies are also accused of misleading the public with their 2001 collective pledge to “phase out” child slavery from the chocolate production line. Lawyers for the accussers says that little to no meaningful effort has been undertaken by the multi-nationals to put an end to underage workers.
In court documents, lawyers said that child slavery in the West African cocoa trade amounted to a “humanitarian disaster” that caused its victims to suffer from “long-term mental and physical trauma”.
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