Report: Apple, Samsung and Sony buy batteries from suppliers that employ children

Report: Apple, Samsung and Sony buy batteries from suppliers that employ children
The battery inside your Apple iPhone could have been manufactured with the help of children as young as seven years-old. That's according to a report published today by Amnesty International. The report says that cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by children is being used in batteries produced for tech giants like Apple, Samsung and Sony. UNICEF estimates that 40,000 children are working in mines located in the DRC.

Amnesty's report says cobalt mined in certain areas in the DRC where child labor is common, ends up processed and then purchased by battery component manufacturers in China and South Korea. Battery manufacturers end up including the parts in the batteries that are sold to the previously mentioned tech giants.

For its part, Apple made a statement to the BBC which stated that "Underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards." The company says that if one of its suppliers is caught using underage labor, it forces the supplier to fund the underage worker's trip back home. Apple adds that it then demands that the supplier pay for the underage worker's education, continues to pay the wages he/she was receiving, and promises the child a job when he or she reaches the legal working age.

Samsung said that it has a "zero tolerance policy" when it comes to child labor, and routinely checks its supply chain. "If a violation of child labor is found, contracts with suppliers who use child labor will be immediately terminated," Samsung said in a statement. Sony also released a statement which said that it is working with suppliers to address human rights and labor issues.

Amnesty International spoke with 87 current and former cobalt miners. 17 of them were children, including Paul. A 14-year old orphan, Paul said he spent 24-hours working in the tunnels, arriving in the morning and leaving the morning of the next day, "I had to relieve myself down in the tunnels … My foster mother planned to send me to school, but my foster father was against it, he exploited me by making me work in the mine."

50% of the world's cobalt is mined from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The material is used in the Lithium-ion batteries found inside most mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.




source: AmnestyInternational via BBC

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