Are You Eating Chocolate Harvested by Child Slaves?

Recently, CNN’s Freedom Project followed up on a promise the chocolate industry made 10 years ago to discontinue the use of child slave labor in cocoa fields.  CNN’s investigators found trafficked child slaves almost immediately after landing in the Ivory Coast, despite the fact that many chocolate companies had declared that it was too difficult to end child labor on cocoa plantations because the plantations are too remote.  Although the farmers were supposed to be told to stop using child slave labor 10 years ago when the chocolate industry made its promise, several plantation farmers indicated that they had never been told to stop the practice.  In this clip, CNN reporter David McKenzie discusses his trip to the Ivory Coast as part of the investigation.  A special report on the investigation aired on CNN International on Sunday, January 22.  Will this report make you look for the fair trade label on your chocolate before you buy?  I know I will be more cognizant of where and how the chocolate I buy is produced.

4 comments

  1. I am surprised every time I hear stories about slavery still happening all over the world. I cannot believe that anybody could think this was right. Whether certain farmers knew they were supposed to stop because of the law or not, does not change the fact that slavery is wrong. Even worse, this is an issue of child slavery. These companies have ten year olds working for free to produce a product they do not even consume. These children are sacrificing their education in order to take on these jobs. Unfortunately, this life is “all the children know,” which is honestly a scary realization. Children should not think that working for free like that is a “normal” life.

    Although the farmers may not have been informed of the law, the companies should have kept a closer eye on the situation. Any company who would have taken the time to go to the Ivory Coast would have seen what was really going on. It really makes you think twice about consuming these products.

  2. Forced labor is a peremptory norm. Simply, all States cannot violate this fundamental norm. Can we then infer that any State that condones this practice or closes their eyes to it is in violation of international law. If the State is forcing these children to work without paying them, then the State would be internationally responsible for this inhumane practice. Is it the State’s responsibility to make sure it’s citizens are not conducting in this practice? Or does the international community only ‘punish’ this practice when the State itself is slaving children?

  3. Here, it is clear to see that this problem of child slavery is perpetuated by the inaction of governments. Although they claimed, nearly ten years ago, that this child labor was “a matter of urgency,” these farms and plantations are still fully functioning under the guise that child labor is “normal” and not a violation of human rights. I agree with the reporter, David McKenzie, when he stated that increased consumer awareness could influence greater, and faster, change to this ongoing, terrible problem.

    These children earn no wages, surviving on minimal food and the clothes on their backs. It is awful to hear that one of the children has never even eaten the food that he works with every day, and the owners have never even taken the time to indicate what the cocoa is used for and where it is heading. More agonizing to hear is that all these children want is to go to school “to learn to read or write.” Education for them would be more than just learning to read and write – it would mean a departure from the physical and mental deterioration that this kind of forced labor will bear upon them for years to come. It would mean a new beginning.

  4. I heard in the CNN report that these Chocolate companies are complaining that they cannot reach these remote coco farmers to get the message out that they cannot use childe laborers? As if that is an excuse? Not a single investigation was reported? I heard nothing about the ramifications for farmers that did use child labor, not that these companies would even enforce any policies. I feel so sad for these children that are working on these farms. I think though, the real issue is that these children do not have many options. That is what makes me even sadder. Their government doesn’t seem to care that their children are uneducated and that is the biggest problem. But certainly our companies, any company selling or allowed to sell in America should be held to higher standards, and should not be allowed to exploit children in other countries.

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