Among other things, Nike Canada Corp. It maintains supply relationships with several Chinese companies that, according to the Australian think tank Australian Strategy Policy Institute (ASPI), use or at least benefit from the forced labor of the Uyghurs. The Uighurs are a persecuted Muslim minority in China.
In 2020, the ASPI think tank released a report estimating that more than 80,000 Uyghur men and women work in factories across China. The report said Nike “has not taken any concrete steps to ensure beyond reasonable doubt that forced labor is not used in its supply chain”.
We checked with contract suppliers.
Nike responded that it no longer had any ties to Chinese companies accused of using Uyghurs for forced labour. According to the report, Nike declined to meet with the Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Organizations (CORE), but did provide information.
Nike also sent a letter to ombudsman Sherry Mayerhofer saying, “We are concerned about reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region” that they do not use any textiles or yarns from the region. “
The Dynasty Gold report notes that the company profited from the use of forced Uighur laborers at a mine in China in which the gold mining company holds a majority stake. Dynasty Gold said it had nothing to do with the mine. These allegations arose after the company left the region. Executive Director Ivy Chung told CBC that the original report was “completely baseless.”
complaints in other cases
The ethics watchdog has a mandate under Canadian law to hold Canadian apparel, mining, oil and gas companies operating outside the country accountable for potential human rights abuses, including in their supply chains.
“The allegations made by the Complainants raise serious questions about potential violations of the internationally recognized right to be free from forced labour,” Ombudsman Mayerhofer said in its first assessment published on Tuesday. “Our mission is to resolve human rights grievances fairly and impartially to assist those affected and to promote responsible business practices by affected businesses.”
This is the first investigation of its kind conducted by CORE since its inception in 2021. The regulator investigated all complaints filed in June 2022 by a coalition of 28 civil society organizations. In addition to the complaints against Nike and Dynasty Gold, there have been eleven other complaints that the regulator plans to publish reports on soon.
Beijing denies the allegations
For years, China has been accused of systematic oppression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. A United Nations report said in 2022 that China had committed “gross human rights violations” against the Uyghurs that “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
Rights groups say more than a million people are being held in camps in the region. Beijing is accused of, among other things, forced sterilization and forced labour. A number of Western companies, especially in the textile sector, are suspected of profiting or profiting from it. Beijing denies all allegations.
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