Exploitation of labor rights in Chocolate production is ongoing

The worst forms of child labor, forced labor and trafficking of children have not been eradicated yet, on the contrary, a newly released study gives real  evidence about the widespread practices and the ineffectiveness of the industry’s efforts.

Nine years ago, a voluntary agreement called the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed by the cocoa and chocolate industry. This was part of a voluntary commitment to end all Worst Forms of Child Labour including the trafficking of children and Forced Adult Labour (FAL) in the cocoa production in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana by the end of 2005.

To monitor this promise, they asked Tulane University to report on progress. This led to a four and a half year project which covered at least half of the cocoa growing areas in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. Not only has it been found that children from Burkina Faso and Mali  are still being sold to work in cocoa agriculture, especially in the Côte d’Ivoire, but all of the children interviewed who worked on cocoa farms there were subjected to the Worst Forms of Child Labour. More astoundingly, a vast majority of them were trafficked (63% from Mali, 75% from Burkina Faso).

This is not the only indicator for the ridiculously slow progress of an industry trying to clean up its act. There are two main problems in the way. Firstly, most industry programs concentrate on increasing farm productivity. But if this is not met with social welfare programs, it might not improve the situation of the children on the farms and could potentially make it worse. Secondly, many of the programs are still being piloted with less than 3% of cocoa growing communities in the Cote d’Ivoire and less than 14 % in Ghana, fully in place. In other cocoa producing countries like Nigeria or Cameroon the situation is even worse.

Sadly, the industry’s goal to have a wide independently verified certification process fully in place across each country’s cocoa-growing sector by the end of 2010 has failed.

This calls for continues action to ensure what was promised is delivered. Keep your eyes peeled for the next exciting phase of our Chocolate Campaign to see at: www.stopthetraffik.org/chocolate.
More information on: http://www.childlabor-payson.org/

See the full report here:

http://www.childlabor-payson.org/Final%20Fourth%20Annual%20Report.pdf

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