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Slavery in Gold and Cocoa

Forced Child Labor Widespread in Gold, Chocolate Industries

February 27, 2012

In gold mining operations and in cocoa fields, child labor and slavery remains an intractable problem, according to recent reports.

According to the International Labor Organization, the labor agency of the United Nations, tens of thousands of children work in gold mining in what it considers to be a “worst form” of labor because of the dangerous conditions. The problem is most common in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations, which do not have the oversight and regulations more common in industrial mines. ASM mining represents up to 20 percent of the gold mined each year, and has risen dramatically since 2007, according to NGO Solidaridad Network.

In the Ivory Coast, child slavery in the cocoa fields is “normal, routine, and easy to find,” according to a recent report by the CNN Freedom Project. This situation exists in spite of the Harkin-Engel Protocol, a cocoa industry-wide agreement signed in 2001 to put an end to forced child labor in chocolate by 2005.

The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act may help make progress in addressing the problem of child labor and slavery.

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