US Supreme Court rules on child slavery on African farms

Bitter Sweets | Fortune

The US Supreme Court has ruled that food giants Nestlé USA and Cargill cannot be sued for child slavery on African farms from where they buy their cocoa.

Six African men alleged that they were trafficked from Mali and forced to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast.

The group say both companies perpetuated that slave trade to keep cocoa prices low.

The court ruled 8-1 that the group had no standing because the abuse happened outside the US.

But it stopped short of a definitive ruling on whether the Alien Tort Act – an 18th century law – could be used to hold US companies to account for labour abuses committed in their supply chains abroad.

About 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, and much of this is exported to America.

According to a report published by the US Department of Labor last year, it is estimated that 1.56 million children work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

In their lawsuit, the group of men alleged that they were forced to work on the cocoa farms for 12-14 hours a day.

They also said they were kept under armed guard while they slept, in order to prevent them from escaping, and were paid little beyond basic food.

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