Amnesty international has accused Apple, Samsung and Sony of ‘failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products’.
The report by the charity examines the supply chain of the raw materials used to make the components for technology devices. The findings look at chemical colbalt which is used in lithium-ion batteries, revealing the human rights abuses that occur during the mining of the element in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Amnesty international found that Colbalt was being mined by children in dangerous conditions for very low wages in mines across the DRC. The report alleges that the chemical is then bought by component manufacturers Ningbo Shanshan and Tianjin Bamo from China and L&F Materials from South Korea who have a direct relationship with the consumer brands.
‘Fact finding process’
In response to the report, Apple said: ‘We appreciate the concerns Amnesty International raised. Underage labour is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards. We not only have strict standards, rigorous audits and industry-leading preventative measures, but we also actively look for any violations.’
Samsung reiterated its ‘zero tolerance’ towards child labour and highlighted its strict policies in place to prevent its suppliers from using child labour, while Sony said it would be conducting a ‘fact finding process’. The Japanese manufacturer said it would continue to assess the findings that its products contain cobalt from the DRC.
Back in November of 2014 shadow communications minister Helen Goodman MP called for greater transparency when looking at the supply chain for the components of consumer tech.
There have also been efforts to manufacturer products which don’t use the supply chains connected to human rights abuses. The most notable being the Fairphone device which is made entirely of ethically sourced components.
The device which began as a kickstarter project is now in it’s in its second iteration and has been successful in securing a deal with MVNO The Phone Co-op to broaden its distribution.