The US Supreme Court has sided with food giants Nestlé And Cargill in a trafficking case, despite claims they knowingly bought cocoa beans from African farms that used child slave labor.
Six plaintiffs laid out claims they were trafficked and enslaved as children, and that the corporations ‘knew or should have known’ about the illegal activity in their supply chains.
Child slavery case
The respondents, who are from Mali, claimed the child slavery took place along the Ivory Coast – which produces tonnes of cocoa every year.
Moreover, they said the companies made ‘major operational decisions’ and aided and abetted in the forced labor.
A spokesperson for Nestlé said the corporation had ‘never’ engaged in the child labor alleged in the suit, Reuters reported.
They added: “We remain unwavering in our dedication to combating child labor in the cocoa industry.”
Additionally, a Cargill spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate the use of child labor in our operations or supply chains and we are working every day to prevent it.”
Nestlé and Cargill suit
In order for a case to be raised under the 1789 Alien Tort Statute, citizens must show the conduct took place within the US.
But the court threw out the case eight-to-one.
It was already dismissed twice in the early stages before being brought to the ninth circuit. At a hearing in December, the Trump administration also backed Nestlé and Cargill.
However, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Paul Hoffman, insisted a lawsuit will be refiled.
He said the ruling ‘delayed our clients’ long quest for justice’.
Moreover, he noted it was ‘significant’ that the court ‘rejected the most extreme arguments for limiting human rights cases’, the Reuters report added.
The case is Nestle USA v. Doe I, 19-416, and Cargill Inc. v. Doe I, 19-453