Lawsuit against Big Tech: Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, & More for Child Slavery

A lawsuit was filed by International Rights Advocates in December 2019 on behalf of families from the Democratic Republic of the Kongo that inculpates several distinguished electronic multinationals of aiding and abetting in the "deaths or serious, crippling injuries" of children laboring in cobalt mines. The other human rights violation is the robbery and exploitation of minerals from the Kongo while violence ensues in the country. Big tech companies, owned by majority caucasian men, opulence is disparaging, for it has been founded on exploitation of Afrakan labor, it has been nourished with the blood of enslaved people and it comes directly from the soil of the "underdeveloped" world. These companies are physically and digitally committing acts of atrocity as their companies success is built on the sweat and dead bodies of Afrakan indigenous people. Chemical-germ warfare, massacres, forced labor, and slavery have been the main methods used by capitalism and neocolonialism to increase its wealth, its lithium, bauxite, cobalt, gold, or diamond reserve, to establish its power in the physical and digital realm. Apple, Google, Dell, and Tesla, knowingly sourced lithium-ion batteries, a component for electric gadgets from manufacturers sourcing cobalt excavated from Kongolese sites at which children were maimed and killed while mining. According to the lawsuit filed, there were various young plaintiffs maimed, who were mining for Kongo Dongfang, a company apart of Huayou Cobard that sells cobalt to Apple and Microsoft. Evidence of this will be shown below of a plaintiff with crushed legs:



The International Rights Advocates (IRA) reports that children working under "extremely dangerous stone age conditions" and "paid a dollar or two a day" populates the extraction sites of primary component for "expensive gadgets made by some of the richest companies in the world." In truth, there is no remedy for the atrocity, yet, the Afrakan diaspora community has a duty to put an end to the ongoing dehumanization and ridicule. As a community, we should make efforts to refrain from supporting companies, institutions, and people that aim to starve and kill off multitudes of colored people world wide. In other words, these institutions must be demolished because lawsuits will not suffice to hold them accountable. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit misjudged a ruling of six respondents from Mali who assert they were trafficked into the Ivory Coast as child slaves to produce cocoa. The United States (U.S.) based NESTLÉ USA Inc., and Cargill Inc., claimed they buy cocoa from farms located in Ivory Coast but do not own or operate there, hence, the lawsuit filed under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS)- which provides federal courts jurisdiction to hear claims brought "by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States,: 28 U. S. C. §1350— contending that this arrangement aids and abets child slavery was dismissed as an impermissible extraterritorial application of the ATS under Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 569 U.S. 108. The question lingers as to why these cases were not also presented and evaluated on the international level as crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity are defined as “any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. The acts include murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, genocide, imprisonment, torture, rape (and other gender-based or sex crimes), group-based persecution, enforced disappearance, apartheid, and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.” (All things that the corporation, The United States of America and its companies are guilty of but I digress.) The only people that can put an end to such atrocities are the people themselves. What will you do?


The Democratic Republic of the Kongo (DRK) was under colonial rule by the Portuguese and Belgians until they allegedly "gained independence" in 1960. Since the colonial intrusion of Kongo, like many other Afrakan nations, have been diseased with three interlinked phenomena of poverty, violence, and mining. Kongo has one of the lowest GDP's in the world with 63% of the population living below the national poverty line of less than $1 per day, 74% without clean water, 94% without electricity, yet, is one of the most wealthiest countries in the world in terms of resources. Kongo is rich with deposits of bauxite, cobalt, coltan, copper, diamonds, gold, oil, manganese, silver, tin, uranium, zinc, etc., a wealth estimation would be at ~$24 trillion, but Kongolese people suffer from the ongoing effects of neocolonialism and globalization. White economists and institutions created a theory on this phenomena called the "resource trap" or "resource course" in which countries with an abundance of non-renewable natural resources experience economic contraction and increased risk of violence. UNICEF estimated that around 40,000 Kongolese children work in the mines of the southern DRK alone. There are documented evidence of child soldiery and child slavery as young as six around coltan mines in Kivu where they work up to twelve (12) hours a day. Often times, the poverty inhibits families from providing for their children and getting them into school causing an opportunity for big tech companies and white governments to take advantage of a situation they have created. A witness from Sovacool's field research on the condition in Kongolese cobalt mines claims:


Artisanal miners work in terrible conditions. They are at the bottom end of the mining industry, in every imaginable way. There are no trade unions to defend their rights, no specific cooperatives that try to improve conditions. Too many important political individuals profit from the mining industry being as it is, to make it safer. The labor conditions within ASM are poor, dangerous, hazardous, and horrific. 

The extreme exploitation of Afraka and specifically as it pertains to Kongolese labour, within wider networks of contemporary capitalist accumulation is a crucial premise to connect integrated transnational superstructure of market transactions that constitute capitalist globalization. The role of colonialism has caused structural decay within the international political economy and its state apparatus. The modalities of exploitation, oppression, poverty, underdevelopment and slavery characterized colonial rule that produced lasting patterns for the economic operations and international relations of the Kongo and other nations across the continent of Afraka. These post-colonial nations have henceforth proven to be in a hunting trap, which is difficult to escape if Afrakans do not unify against their enemies. There is no logic in Afrakans participating in the system of capitalism as the global state resides in racial capitalism where racial classifications are put upon certain populations, which serve to ideologically rationalize the hierarchical social relations required by capitalist production. That is to say, capitalism is our perpetual prison and eventual death sentence.


The plaintiffs and other child miners producing cobalt for defendants Apple, Alphabet, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla were in hazardous work and are seeking relief based on common law claims of unjust enrichment, negligent supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, this is larger than a legal matter as it serves as hard core evidence of the western world's crimes against humanity whom are categorized as indigenous Afrakan people. The defendant's response to the accusation were to state they donate to the Fund for Global Human Rights, which is a trivial statement to mitigate their human rights violations. Apple’s 2018 Statement on Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery in Our Business and Supply Chain:


Apple’s program to prevent child labor in its DRC supply chain is based on Apple’s belief that empowering independent voices in the supply chain is critical to identifying, assessing, and remedying risks related to human trafficking and involuntary labor. In 2018, we continued to provide funding to the Fund for Global Human Rights, an organization that supports local human rights defenders and local activists in multiple countries, including in the DRC. Apple also continued to support the International Tin Association’s International Tin Supply Chain Initiative whistleblowing mechanism in the DRC that allows people to anonymously voice concerns in their local language related to the extraction, trade, handling, and export of minerals so allegations of misconduct can be surfaced and reported. 

These big tech companies have little to no remorse because the people continue to support their products due to consequences not being seen by the consumer. Once this information reaches the consumer, they are just as much responsible for the child slavery than the company because it is the people that allows for the machine to keep going. Judicial injustice and mass corruption within legal codes will not permit for these companies to be prosecuted fairly but the people can. I encourage all people interested in the case to click this link for former child miner plaintiffs' class action allegations.


There is an insidious destruction of the soul in the essence of ongoing slavery and the worst aspects exists in contemporary white racism. The United States Commission on Civil Rights has defined racism as: "any attitude, action, or institutional, structure, which subordinates a person or group because of their color." Overt racism relates to the use of color or other visible characteristics related to color as a subordinating factor, while, institutional subordination means, placing or keeping persons in a position or status of inferiority by means of attitude, actions, or institutional structures which do not use color itself as the subordinating mechanism, but instead use other mechanisms indirectly related to color. Within the international judicial system there exists racism in the form of judicial injustice where Afrakans reporting crimes against white companies or individuals may go dismissed or with light sentencing. In fact, the big tech companies sought to dismiss the child labor lawsuit by arguing they have no control over conditions in mining companies and that global supply chains do not fall under the scope of the Trafficking Victims Protection Authorization Act, all while benefiting from the same inhumane mining conditions. In 2021, the Washington D.C. court dismissed the legal case against major U.S. technology companies accused of knowingly benefiting from human rights abuses. The companies claim they had no "requisite knowledge" of the abuses at the specific mining sites mentioned, and that "knowledge of a general problem in an industry is insufficient" to prove they knew about the violations that had injured the plaintiffs. So it is up to the international community to pay close attention to the actions of these corporations now and onwards.


Legal Proceeding

  1. 15 December 2019, plaintiffs filed a class action in the US District Court for the District of Columbia against Apple, Alphabet, Google, Dell, and Tesla.

  2. 25 August 2020, the defendants filed a motion in response, denying liability.

  3. 2 November 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case, citing lack of standing, and incorrect reliance on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The Court noted that "it is not obvious that the civil-remedy portion of the TVPRA applies extraterritorially".

  4. February 2022, the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to dismiss the case

Solution


The racial prejudice that exists internationally impairs the ability for judicial system's to operate fairly. The President's Crime Commission, Task Force Report states injustices to Afrakans are a result of the cultural gap between them and law enforcement officials stating:

The law and court procedures are not understood by and seem threatening to many defendants, and many defendants are not understood by and seem threatening to the court and its officers. Even such simple matters as dress, speech, and manners may be misinterpreted. Most city prosecutors and judges have middle-class backgrounds and a high degree of education. When they are confronted with a poor, uneducated defendant, they may have difficulty judging how he fits into his own society or culture. They can easily mistake a certain manner of dress or speech, alien or repugnant to them but ordinary enough in the defendant's world, as an index of moral worthlessness. They can mistake ignorance or fear of the law as indifference to it. They can mistake the defendant's resentment against the social evils with which he lives as evidence of criminality. Or conversely, they may be led by neat dress, a polite and cheerful manner, and a show of humility to believe that a dangerous criminal is merely an oppressed and misunderstood man.

The apparent solution is for Afrakans to control, operate, and occupy their own institutions that serve the Afrakan interest. The creation of Afrakan courts is essential to establish coherent and effective system of human rights protection on the Afrakan continent or elsewhere. We need protocols and laws that strengthen punishments on acts against humanity and especially from foreign intervention. We must begin to rule our own nations, control our own currency, and protect our people by any means necessary. If we do not arisen from slumber to protect our children and future, then, shall hand our heads to our enemies?

Beat and cuff the slave, keep him hungry and spiritless, and he will follow the chain of his master like a dog, but feed and clothe him well, work him moderately and surround him with physical comfort, and dreams of freedom will intrude... You may hurl a man so low beneath the level of his kind, that he loses all just ideas of his natural position, but elevate him a little, and the clear conception of rights rises to life and power, and leads him onward.
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. 1962

The world you made is what you are left with.
Asé

Court Documents

Judge Carl J. Nichols' opinion dismissing the case, 2 Nov 2021.


Class complaint for injunctive relief and damages, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 15 Dec 2019


1. International Rights Advocates, ‘Cobalt DRC Case’, International Rights Advocates (16 December 2019) - [http://www.iradvocates.org/case//cobalt-drc-case - accessed 26/04/20]. 2. Annie Kennie, ‘Apple and Google named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths’, The Guardian (16 December 2019) - [https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/dec/16/apple-and-google-named-in-us-lawsuit-over-co ngolese-child-cobalt-mining-deaths - accessed 26/04/20].

3. International Rights Advocates, ‘Cobalt DRC Case’.

4. Siddharth Kara, ‘I saw the unbearable grief inflicted on families by cobalt mining. I pray for change’, The Guardian (16 December 2019) - [https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/commentisfree/2019/dec/16/i-saw-the-unbearable-grief-inflic ted-on-families-by-cobalt-mining-i-pray-for-change - accessed 26/04/20].

5. International Monetary Fund, ‘World Economic Outlook Database October 2019’, World Economic and Financial Surveys (2019) - [https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2019/02/weodata/index.aspx - accessed 10/06/2020].

6. United Nations Development Programme, ‘2019 Human Development Index Ranking’, Human Development Reports (2019)

7. Patience Kabamba, ‘You Cannot Get Blood Out of a Stone: The Nexus of Neoliberalism, Violence and Slavery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, The Zambakari Advisory (2018).

8 Amnesty International and Afrewatch, ‘This is What We Die for: Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Power the Global Trade in Cobalt’, Amnesty International (19 January 2016), [https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr62/3183/2016/en/ - accessed 12/04/20].

9. Nest, Coltan, 96. 20 Once formally Katanga Province, now partitioned into Haut-Katanga, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomani, and Lualaba provinces.

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