E.U. Due Diligence: We’re running out of time, but this could be a game changer

Photo credit: Philip Reynaers / Photonews / Justice is Everybody’s Business European leaders are deciding on game-changing rules to stop big business from getting away with exploiting people and destroying the planet. But big business is doing everything it can to keep getting its way.   As part of the Justice is Everybody’s Business campaign, we’re calling on you to remind our leaders who they’re working for and tell them to put people and planet before profits.  The E.U. Due Diligence Directive risks being seriously watered down At the moment, big business is getting away with all sorts of bad behavior: it can profit…

Migrant worker exploitation isn’t unique to Qatar – the U.S. has work to do

Appalling treatment of low-paid migrant workers in Qatar has been under the spotlight as the World Cup gets underway. Amid intense scrutiny on Qatar’s human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers, activists in the U.S. are raising their own concerns about similar treatment in the U.S. and inviting us to look inward at the conditions migrant workers experience closer to home. Exploitation in the U.S. Julie Taylor, Executive Director of the National Farm Worker Ministry in North Carolina explained how migrant workers in the U.S. are experiencing similar conditions to those in Qatar. She told VOA: Those issues…

It’s not a just transition if clean energy is powered by forced labor

The phrase “just transition” is on everybody’s lips in the aftermath of COP27, but in the race toward cleaner energy, are we losing sight of what justice really looks like?   A closer look at solar panel and electric transport supply chains suggest we may be sidelining human rights as we scale up solutions to the climate crisis.   The darker side of solar panels  Experts warn of links between forced labor and solar panel production. Polysilicon is the most common material used in this product, and almost half of the global supply can be traced back to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous…

New report uncovers widespread migrant worker abuse in Qatar

A new report by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has shed light on widespread abuse of migrant workers in Qatar as the World Cup gets underway. “Legacy of the kafala system lives on” Testimonies from migrant workers reveal that the “legacy of the kafala system lives on”, despite Qatar passing a host of legislative reforms in 2020 to abolish the notorious sponsorship system that ties migrant workers to their employers, enabling exploitation and forced labor. Speaking to migrant workers on the eve of the World Cup last week, the TUC’s report found that workers are subjected to illegal recruitment fees…

COP27 is over – what next?

The Sharm El-Sheikh COP27 climate summit concluded last week after two weeks of tense discussions with world leaders. Well past the agreed deadline, talks eventually resulted in a historic agreement on loss and damage, which places the responsibility on wealthier states to provide financial assistance to poorer states facing the immediate impacts of the climate crisis. This is testament to the relentless organizing from climate justice activists around the world who demanded change. However, the details of the loss and damage fund – who will pay, when the funds will be available, and who will be eligible to receive them –…

Grounds to suspect Shamima Begum was trafficked, court hears

Police should have investigated whether Shamima Begum was a victim of human trafficking and helped her return if she was, a court heard, as there were grounds to suspect she had been groomed as a child bride.   Begum was 15 years old when she left the U.K. to join Islamic State in Syria. Just days after arriving, she was married to an IS solder from the Netherlands. She had three children but none of them survived.  Credible suspicion of trafficking  During the hearing of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), Samantha Knights KC reminded the tribunal that “Children allegedly…

Lab results find Shein clothes likely made with Uyghur cotton

Bloomberg News sent out Shein clothing for a laboratory test. The result? The German lab, Agroisolab GmbH, found that the carbon, hydrogen and oxygen isotope ratios indicated that the Uyghur Region was the likely origin and that 95% of other possible cotton regions were definitely not the source. Agroisolab uses isotope testing to trace source origins. The same method is used by the London based lab Oritain – which is currently employed by Shein. While Oritain claims they are helping Shein ensure a “robust and traceable supply chain”, the company has refused to test Shein products for Bloomberg or share…

Qatar World Cup due to begin as exploited workers yet to see compensation fund

“This is because of our blood and sweat.” – Ram Pukar Sahani, Nepali worker in Qatar In just two days the World Cup in Qatar will begin amid intensifying pressure from migrant workers, activists, politicians, fans, brand sponsors and national Football Associations calling for a compensation fund for exploited workers and the families of those who have died. Thousands of migrant workers involved in construction, hospitality and other key areas of infrastructure required for the World Cup to take place in Qatar have suffered abuses including debt bondage, wage theft, being prevented from changing employers, forced to work excessive hours,…

Modern Slavery Act failing Australia, advocates report

Australia’s Modern Slavery Act (MSA) has once again come under scrutiny for failing to hold businesses accountable for forced labor in their operations. A new report by human rights advocates entitled “Broken Promises” investigates two years of statements submitted by 92 companies in at risk industries including garments in China, rubber gloves in Malaysia, seafood in Thailand, and fresh produce in Australia. Al Jazeera reports, Two out of three companies are still failing to comply with legally-required reporting requirements, while more than half have failed to follow through on commitments to improve their anti-slavery efforts, a coalition of rights groups…

Can private inspections and certification schemes really fix forced labor?

A new report by Human Rights Watch explores the potential of audits and certification schemes to hold companies accountable for labor abuses in their global supply chains and what their limitations are. Labor abuses could go undiscovered As brands’ supply chains have extended around the world, they have come under increasing pressure to ensure their supply chains are free from human rights abuses, including forced labor. This has led to a proliferation of social audits (private investigations) and certification schemes to assess the compliance of suppliers with voluntary codes of conduct which may incorporate elements of international labor standards to…

Armed militias endanger and exploit people fleeing Libya – with E.U. support

“Get away from Libyan territorial (waters), otherwise we’ll shoot you by SAM (surface-to-air) missiles,” German doctor Leona Blankenstein heard from a vessel that had been given to the so-called Libyan Coast Guard by Italy as she flew above a migrant boat in Maltese waters on October 25. Charity organizations providing search and rescue in the Central Mediterranean denounce the emergence of a “Wild West” situation in which armed militias posing as the Libyan Coast Guard are endangering their workers and the people fleeing Libya. The people intercepted by these groups are taken back to Libya where they are at high risk…

Seasonal workers in debt after being sent home early from U.K. farms

Sajit* sold his shop in Nepal to go to the United Kingdom to work on a farm. “They told us six months will be good money for us,” he said. But just two months into the job, when he still had over £3,000 ($3,500 approximately) of debt to repay, he was told he had to return home. He is one of an estimated 60 Nepali fruit pickers who are being sent home early. Many had borrowed high sums of money to pay third-party agents to secure them a position on the U.K.’s seasonal worker scheme and are now left with…

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