Five major global technology companies: Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Dell Technologies, Microsoft, and Tesla have been cleared of Child labour charges in Africa’s cobalt mines.

On Tuesday, March 5, 2024, a federal appeal court in the United States of America for the District of Columbia refused to hold the five major global technology companies responsible for their alleged involvement in the use of child labour in cobalt mining operations within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Decades back, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is known to supply nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt. Cobalt is a vital resource for tech companies used to produce various accessories such as a piece of lithium batteries used in iPhones, rechargeable vehicles, and other products.

Recently, a report reaching Businessworld Africa states that five children lost their lives during the cobalt mining operations. In a bid to protest, 16 plaintiffs, including representatives of five children who lost their lives in cobalt mining operations, charge the technology to court.

Speaking with one of the plaintiffs, he said, “These companies deliberately obscured their reliance on child labour, with several children coerced into working due to hunger and extreme poverty ensuring the fulfilment of their increasing demand for the metal”.

However, Circuit Judge Neomi Rao, an American jurist who serves as a federal appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, stated that the plaintiffs had the legal right to seek damages but had no record and evidence that the five companies had anything more than a buyer-seller relationship with suppliers, or had power to stop the use of child labour.

She further stated that there are many other parties responsible for labour trafficking, including labour brokers, other cobalt consumers and the DRC government.

In response to the Subpoena, Dell mentioned that “it was committed to upholding the human rights of workers throughout its supply chain and has never intentionally sourced products manufactured using child labour”.

As indicated in the court document, some of the cobalt supplier companies implicated in the case were Eurasian Resources Group, Glencore, Umicore, and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt.

Ojeyemi Adeleye
Ojeyemi Adeleye
I am Ojeyemi Adeleye, a theatre arts graduate of the University of Ilorin and a masters degree holder in Dramatic Arts, Obafemi Awolowo Univerisity. I am a content writer who believes the world can be brought to your doorsteps through writing.

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