The chocolate giants in court

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Is Nestlé guilty of forcing children to harvest cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire? The Swiss multinational along with six other chocolate giants (Cargill, Mars, Mondelez, Hershey, Barry Callebaut and Olam) are facing a collective complaint filed last week in Washington, where they are accused of violating children’s rights.

The complaint was filed on behalf of eight young adults from Mali, a neighboring country to Côte d’Ivoire. The initiative comes from the International Rights Advocates, (IRAdvocates) a group of American lawyers who have already launched other class actions. According to the indictment, the plaintiffs, who were under 16 between 2009 and 2011, were fooled when they came to work in the Ivorian cocoa plantations for salaries of around 40 francs per month. Once there, they had been assigned a variety of duties, including spraying pesticides and herbicides. In a few cases, wages were promised after the harvest, but young people never saw the color.