HELP C.R.E.E.R BUY 2 MOTORBIKES! C.R.E.E.R.-Africa is the only operational transit center in The Ivory Coast that provides safe shelter, medical care and means of repatriation for children rescued or that have escaped their traffickers. They are located in the heart of cocoa country, Abengourou, and are in need of two new motorbikes. It is only on a motorbike that one can get in the bush to monitor child labor and slavery on the plantations.
We all need to do our part to end slavery! Thank you!
International Rights Advocates needs your help to win Doe vs. Nestle
A letter from Terrence Collingsworth:
In one form or another, I’ve been working on human rights issues in the global economy for 27 years. Across this long run, I’ve tried not to annoy my friends and colleagues with my fundraising efforts. I hope this gives me some standing at this time to say, WE REALLY NEED YOUR HELP NOW!
The International Rights Advocates (www.iradvocates.org) is a small human rights advocacy group that promotes corporate accountability through legal advocacy and capacity building. Our letterhead states, “Together, We Can Defeat Giants.” Those carefully chosen words really depend on the word “Together.” We need all of our friends to help now because we have taken on some notably tough giants, and have no hope of beating them without the funds to cover the enormous expenses of legally challenging some of the worst multinational outlaws in the global economy.
I give some details of our main cases below. Each one illustrates the challenge of being a small human rights organization trying to win in court against huge multinational corporations that hire large corporate law firms with enormous resources. But, if we don’t do it, no one will, as most lawyers shy away from the word “nonprofit.” Our mission in doing this was well-stated by Judge Louis Oberdorfer, our first judge in our Exxon litigation, when he denied Exxon’s motion to dismiss our claims: “The United States, as leader of the free world, has an overarching vital interest in the safety, prosperity, and consequences of the behavior of its citizens, particularly its super-corporations conducting business in one or more foreign countries.”
Step one of our mission is going well; our major human rights cases are moving forward. Now we have to win them with your support. Here is a summary of a few key current cases:
John Doe I, et al. v. Nestle USA, Inc., et al.
On July 14, 2005, three former child slaves who had been trafficked from Mali to Cote D’Ivoire, where they were forced to harvest cocoa for the international market, including, they allege, for Nestle, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, filed a class action lawsuit against these three companies seeking damages and, most importantly, injunctive relief to stop the ongoing use of child slaves to harvest cocoa. After nearly five years of various arguments before the trial court, on October 13, 2010, the court dismissed the case. In doing so, the court accepted Nestle’s arguments that corporations could not be sued under international law and that the three victims were required to prove that Nestle and the other companies specifically sought to use child slaves, not just knowingly benefited from child slavery. Let’s pause to ponder that – these large multinationals sought and were granted by the trial court complete immunity from international law because of their status as corporations, not individual humans, and they convinced the judge they could knowingly profit from child slavery as long as they did not specifically intend to act to enslave the children themselves!
We could not let this outrageous result stand, and appealed immediately to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After nearly four years, on September 4, 2014, we prevailed on all issues. The companies petitioned the Appeals Court to have this decision further reviewed, and that petition was denied on May 6, 2015. The companies then, with the help of the major U.S. business lobbyists, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Foreign Trade Council, which rallied to restore corporate legal immunity under international law, sought review by the Supreme Court (No. 15-349). That petition was denied on January 11, 2016. The case is now finally, 10 ½ years after it was filed, back before the trial court.
While our case was languishing in the courts, the cocoa companies promised the consuming public that they would initiate programs to stop the abhorrent practice of using child slaves to harvest cocoa, a mere luxury product often consumed by the more fortunate children of the world. But the evidence shows that the three companies, as well as several other large multi-nationals, continued to produce chocolate that was harvested by child slaves. This is well-documented by the 2010 film, The Dark Side of Chocolate by Robin Romano and Miki Mistrata, which can also be viewed on our website. And, more recently, the U.S. Department of Labor funded a 2015 study, Survey Results on Child Labor in West African Cocoa Growing Areas, which documents in great detail the ongoing use of massive numbers of children in the harvesting of cocoa in West Africa.
Other legal efforts against these companies have failed. Ours is the only case now pending that offers concrete hope for the enslaved children to be rescued. We just filed our Second Amended Complaint adding some new details and three new class representatives. With your support, we will get our team back to Cote D’Ivoire to document current conditions, work with the six lead plaintiffs to find other victims, and, most importantly, consult with the communities impacted by child slavery to devise a sustainable proposal to end the practice and implement meaningful rehabilitation and education programs. This can be done! I helped to start a remarkable program, now called Goodweave, that has made great strides in ending child slavery in South Asia’s hand-knotted carpet industry. The key components to ending child slavery are independent monitoring with real consequences for the companies still using child slaves, which this case would bring, and rehabilitation and education programs designed for the needs of the freed child slaves in their specific situations. We can do this with your help, together.