Supreme Court Courts Against Food Giants Nestlé, Cargill in Child Slavery Case • Protecting Children’s Health

Human rights advocates have criticized a Supreme Court decision in favor of two international corporations that were indicted more than a decade ago for their alleged conspiracy to sell children.

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Human rights advocates criticized a Supreme Court decision last week in favor of U.S. corporate giants Nestlé USA and Cargill, which have been charged more than a decade ago with six men who -as the two companies were complicated in child trafficking and profited from male slavery. in cocoa fields as children.

The Supreme Court ruling 8-1 against the plaintiffs, who said they did not prove the activities of U.S. companies were sufficiently tied to the alleged child trafficking. The companies argued they could not be prosecuted in the U.S. for activities taking place in West Africa.

Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general under the Obama administration, represented both companies and also argued that they could not be prosecuted for conspiracy to sell children because they were corporations, not individuals.

Writing on Slate in December, Mark Joseph Stern called Katyal’s position was “radical” and “severe,” detailing nine justice doubts about her defense of companies – but the court later sided with her.

The plaintiffs, who are from Mali and say they are survivors of child trafficking and slavery in Côte d’Ivoire, filed their case under the Alien Tort Statute, an 18th-century law that allowed federal courts to hear civil actions filed by foreigners regarding violations “that have been in violation of the law of countries or a treaty with the United States.”

In recent years the Court has had a limit on when court law can be enforced, arguing that it cannot be used to file a lawsuit if the offense has become “almost overseas,” according to the New York Times.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Nestlé and Cargill had full control over cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, where child labor was widespread and where men said they were forced to work long hours. and sleep in locked shacks at night.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently reports that the use of child labor on family farms in cocoa -growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana increased from 31% to 45% between 2008 and 2019.

Corporations “must be held accountable for fixing a system of child slavery,” SAYS Paul Hoffman, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruling in October 2018 that Nestlé and Cargill could not avoid lawsuits, but writing for the majority in the Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Clarence Thomas said the plaintiffs failed to prove that the companies ’conduct“ occurred in the United States… even if other behaviors occur abroad ”and that companies make“ major operational decisions ”in the US

EarthRights International, which filed a brief court order for the plaintiffs, called the verdict “a giant step backwards for the U.S. leadership in international law and the protection of human rights.”

“The ruling means that U.S. corporations that executives decide, from comfortable American boardrooms, to profits from murder, torture and slavery abroad cannot be prosecuted in U.S. federal courts because in violation of international law, ” SAYS Marco Simons, general counsel for the organization. “This ruling has disturbing implications for future victims of human rights abuse seeking justice against businesses in U.S. courts. This ruling also sets a dangerous precedent, providing impunity of corporations for profiting from human rights abuses. ”

Organizer Bree Newsome recounted the surprise of the verdict the day the U.S. Congress passed the bill recognizing June-the day Union troops arrived in Texas and informed Black people that enslaved that slavery ended in the Civil War.

“Given the current refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court to protect victims of human rights abuse, Congress needs to take action,” Simons said. “We call on Congress to clarify the responsibilities of U.S. courts to enforce international law, also reassure U.S. leadership on human rights, and provide remedies to victims of the most serious human rights abuses by to make binding legislation accountable to corporations for human rights violations. “

Originally published on Common Dreams.

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