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Anti child-labour activist calls on G7 leaders to take immediate action to defend and protect rights of children

Anti-child labour activist Fernando Morales-de la Cruz in front of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, in Berlin. Photo: Supplied.

Anti-child labour activist Fernando Morales-de la Cruz in front of the Bundestag, the German Parliament, in Berlin. Photo: Supplied.

Published Jun 23, 2022

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Berlin: An open letter by anti-child labour activist Fernando Morales-de la Cruz.

Dear G7 leaders,

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Since signing in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all G7 nations and all EU member states are obliged to respect human rights and children's rights in their supply chains.

In 2022, almost 74 years later all G7 nations continue to profit from slavery and from the exploitation of tens of millions of children as cheap child labour. The European Union is the main financial beneficiary of misery and child labour in coffee, cocoa and many other products.

In 2021, Germany, the president of the G7, passed the "Lieferkettengesetz", a law that protects the exploiters and violates the German State's obligation to protect and defend human rights and children's rights.

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The Canadian Parliament is about to pass a modern slavery bill that will not eliminate slavery and will protect the companies that use child labour in their Canadian supply chains to reduce costs and increase profits.

In 2015, the United Kingdom passed the Modern Slavery Act, a law that had an insignificant effect in eliminating slavery and child labour in the supply chains of the UK.

Section 307 of the United States Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1307) prohibits importing any product that was mined, produced or manufactured wholly or in part by forced labour, including forced or indentured child labour, but tens of trillions of dollars of goods produced wholly or in part with forced or child labour have been imported by the US since 1930.

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The reality in France, Italy and Japan is not much better.

France hosted the United Nations delegates that signed the 1948 Paris Agreement to protect human rights, known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but slavery and child labour can be traced in 2022, even to the most expensive French luxury brands.

Japan is an industrial and technological powerhouse admired across the world, also for having a culture of mutual respect like no other. Sadly, Japan doesn't have the same respect for human rights and children's rights in other countries. Japan profits from slavery and from the exploitation of millions of children in its supply chains.

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Italy not only has slavery and child labour in its international supply chains, It also uses "caporalato" (slavery) in the plantations that harvest many of the Italian agricultural products loved by Italians and across the world. There is also child labour in Italian industry.

In 2015, all G7 nations and European Union member states committed at the General Assembly of the UN to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. Seven years later, misery, hunger and child labour have increased in part due to cruel trade models and false development aid programmes.

As if things were not bad enough for the hundreds of millions of people in the supply chains of G7 nations, many corporations have business models that have increased or sustained misery, hunger, malnutrition, child labour and forced migration in their supply chains.

I must mention that there is misery, malnutrition and child labour also in the supply chains of the United Nations and its organisations Unicef, International Labour Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization and so on.

This means that not even the secretary-general of the UN and the directors of Unicef, ILO, UNDP, FAO and so on take seriously their obligation to defend and protect human rights and children's rights, nor can they be held as an example of respecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on Rights of the Child, nor any other international treaties associated with these issues.

All of this must stop! It is not only cruel, it's inhumane and it is also illegal.

I trust that, 74 years after signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, you, as leaders of the G7 group of nations, will take immediate action to defend and protect the human rights and labour rights of each child, worker and farmer exploited in your supply chains to reduce your costs and increase your profits.

Fernando Morales-de la Cruz is a human rights activist, journalist, political consultant and social entrepreneur.

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