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Child labour won't stop with conflict-free labels and voluntary codes

May 12, 2015

Child labour won't stop with conflict-free labels and voluntary codes

Josephine Moulds
Tuesday 12 May 2015 14.48 BST

A fight is brewing in Europe over new rules for companies to report on so-called “conflict minerals”, which are commonly found in mobile phones, laptops, lightbulbs and jewellery.

The minerals at stake are gold, tantalum, tungsten and tin, which are mined in conflict or high-risk areas, such as parts of Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Zimbabwe. Trade in these minerals can fund armed groups and fuel human rights abuses, in particular for children. Armed groups in the DRC are widely condemned for their use of child soldiers. Extraction of the minerals is predominantly done at small-scale mines, where forced labour, often by children, is endemic. Given the hazardous working conditions, child labour in mines is categorized as one of the worst forms of child labour.

This month , the European parliament will discuss proposals for a new regulatory system for companies involved in the trade of these minerals. This largely conserves the existing system, which relies on self-certification. Only the EU’s smelters and refiners will be forced to use responsibly sourced minerals; other companies in the supply chain will not be required to comply with binding transparency standards.

Read more at The Guardian.

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