Tags: Supreme Court | cocoa | labor | mali | nestle

Will High Court Case About Chocolate Open Door to Centuries Old Claims?

law and order


By Monday, 02 November 2020 02:10 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Just last week, on the eve of Halloween, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will hear a decisive case about . . . chocolate.

As of this writing, the case is set to be heard on Dec. 1, 2020 in the highest court of the land (Case No. 10-56739 John Doe 1, et al. vs. Nestle, USA, et al.

It's actually been a long time in coming. It is a case against Nestlé and Cargill, filed originally in 2005. The lower courts twice struck it down — in 2014 and again in 2017 — only to be revived by the — you may have guessed it already — you guessed it  . . . San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

It isn’t just Big Chocolate’s alleged use of forced child labor that is at issue here.

It's the scope of a 1789 law passed by our first U.S. Congress: the Alien Tort Statute.

This U.S. law, the Alien Tort Statute allows non-U.S. citizens to seek damages in U.S. courts. One interpretation is that it was intended as a means for non-U.S. citizens to sue U.S. nationals and corporations in U.S. courts when the "law of nations" or international law is deemed to have been violated.

The original plaintiffs in this case against Nestlé’s U.S. holdings (it is a Swiss company) and Cargill are three Malians who claim to have been forced into child labor in their African native country of Mali.

According to Confectionery News, a study by Tulane University conducted in 2015 found that during the 2013/14 cocoa harvest season in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, 2.26 million children were employed. Of those, 2.03 million were exposed to hazardous work such as carrying heavy loads, working long hours or night hours and being exposed to sharp tools.

The plaintiffs, says the Insurance Journal, "accused the companies of aiding and abetting human rights violations through their active involvement in purchasing Ivory Coast cocoa and turning a blind eye to the use of slave labor on the farms despite being aware of the practice in order to keep cocoa prices low."

According to Business Human Rights Resource Center, child agricultural labor rose from 31% to 45% between 2008 and 2019 in the cocoa-rich growing countries of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

Back in 2001, the largest brands and processors in the $80 Billion chocolate industry agreed to The Harkin-Engel protocol.

It was renewed in 2010 when it mandated the reduction of these forms of child labor in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire by 70% as of 2020.

Opponents of the lawsuit state that while human rights is an important issue for all humanity, the U.S. courts are not the place to adjudicate violations that occur outside America’s sovereign territory.

This scheduled U.S. Supreme Court session has me wondering if this case will end up opening the door for claims dating back centuries in regards to forced labor. I believe some of the more liberal of our senators and representatives allude to this issue as "Reparations."

Paige Donner has contributed to Newsmax since 2018. She's a media expert, commentator, novelist, and serial entrepreneur. She founded the company, Paris Food And Wine in 2013. In 2018, she founded IoTShipping, a supply chain logistics startup that uses the Internet of Things (IoT) for precision traceability of shipped goods. Paige began her journalism career in Paris, France in 1990. Her first job out of university was with Time-Life's rue Fbg. St. Honore offices. Within the next two years, she took freelancing work as a copy editor for the International Herald Tribune, now re-branded the International New York Times, as well as writing assignments for Variety — the film and television trade magazine. Paige has also clerked for the Senate President of the Hawaii State Legislature. A filmmaker, she has written several television pilots as well as directed television commercials and film shorts. She also contributed to American Cinematographer, the Los Angeles Times, Daily Variety, Huffpost, and a film production trade magazine, Below The Line. As of 2010, Paige has again made Paris, France her home. She has also written for the International New York Times. Since 2013, she has been the sole regular local editor/photographer contributor based in Paris, France for USA Today. Read Paige Donner's Reports — More Here.

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This scheduled Supreme Court session has me wondering if this case will end up opening the door for claims dating back centuries in regards to forced labor.
cocoa, labor, mali, nestle
Monday, 02 November 2020 02:10 PM
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