By B.N. Frank
Cell phones, computers, and other digital, electronic, and wireless technology require ingredients often referred to as “conflict minerals” in order to operate (see 1, 2). There are reasons why they are referred to that way – mining for them is dangerous, sometimes deadly, and frequently involves exploited children.
Thanks to Annie Kelly for investigating and The Guardian for publishing details about another tragic situation involving “conflict minerals”:
A landmark legal case has been launched against the world’s largest tech companies by Congolese families who say their children were killed or maimed while mining for cobalt used to power smartphones, laptops and electric cars, the Guardian can reveal.
Apple, Google, Dell, Microsoft and Tesla have been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Washington DC by human rights firm International Rights Advocates on behalf of 14 parents and children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The families and injured children are seeking damages for forced labour and further compensation for unjust enrichment, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
It is the first time that any of the tech companies have faced such a legal challenge.
In the court documents, the Congolese families describe how their children were driven by extreme poverty to seek work in large mining sites, where they claim they were paid as little as $2 (£1.50) a day for backbreaking and dangerous work digging for cobalt rocks with primitive tools in dark, underground tunnels.
Activist Post reports regularly about the many issues associated with digital, electronic, and wireless technology. For more information, visit our archives.
Image credit: Pixabay
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