Five of the world’s largest tech companies are facing a serious federal lawsuit over the deaths and injuries of Congolese child miners who are engaged cobalt mining according to a case that was presented forward by human rights lawyers.
Cobalt is an essential mineral and a key component for a number of tech which include batteries for smartphones, tablets, laptops and even electric cars which makes it a very valuable asset for any country that has it.
The alarming case was brought forward by human rights lawyers at the Washington-based group International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 anonymous plaintiffs, who are described as either guardians of children killed in tunnel or wall collapses while mining cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or children who survived such accidents and were injured.
“We will do everything possible to get justice quickly for the children we represent,” the plaintiff’s lead counsel Terry Collingsworth, who is also executive director of International Rights Advocates, said in a statement. “In my 35 years as a human rights lawyer, I’ve never seen such extreme abuse of innocent children on a large scale. This astounding cruelty and greed needs to stop.”
Reports of abuse towards Congolese children working in the cobalt mines has been an issue that was silently kept under the rug by large corporate companies and now the truth has been exposed in what has been described as one of the biggest cases of human rights violation today.
The child miners were as young as 6 years old and were forced to work in very terrible conditions not forgetting low pay which is a classic example of child exploitation.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla were named as one of the companies facing lawsuit over deaths of child miners
The lawsuit against Apple, Dell, Google, Microsoft and Tesla accuses the five companies of “knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to mine cobalt,” which is used in every lithium-ion battery of electronic devices.
It should also be noted that about two-thirds of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined from the Congo’s mineral rich provinces of Haut-Katanga and Lualaba.
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The complaint states that the children, some as young as 6, “are not merely being forced to work full-time, extremely dangerous mining jobs at the expense of their educations and futures; they are being regularly maimed and killed by tunnel collapses and other known hazards common to cobalt mining.”
In addition to the emotional distress, these deaths and injuries “place immense pressure on families requiring additional children to work in cobalt mining to replace the lost earnings,” according to the lawsuit.
The court document details a number of alleged instances where children were severely injured or died from working in cobalt mines alleged to be part of the defendants’ supply chains. One of the plaintiffs was 15 when he fell down a 20-foot shaft. The teen “is now completely paralyzed from his chest down and he can barely use his arms,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims that Apple, Dell, Google, Microsoft and Tesla all have “specific knowledge from public reports” that the cobalt they sourced from the African nation “was mined in significant part by young children performing hazardous work” for roughly $2-$3 per day and, in many cases, even less than that.
The complaint also alleges that the tech firms failed to perform the required due diligence to regulate their supply chains.
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Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.