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According to Amnesty International, human rights organization, electronics bigwigs including Apple, Samsung and Sony are not doing background checks on the minerals they are using in manufacturing their devices.

Amnesty tabled a report on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The report unveiled children as young as seven years old working in cobalt mines and under very dangerous conditions. This mineral Cobalt is a vital component of the lithium-ion batteries used to power electronic devices.

DRC produces about half of all Cobalt supplied in the world. However, miners working in the DRC Cobalt mines work under high risks of fatal accidents and could face long-term health complications. That is according to Amnesty.

Amnesty says that in the period between September 2014 and December 2015, at least, 80 miners have died underground in the mines located in southern DRC. The human rights organization also says it has collected testimonies of children who allege that they have been working in the DRC Cobalt mines.

One 14-year-old orphan, Paul says he began working at Cobalt mines at the age of 12. He told the researchers, “I would spend 24 hours down in the tunnels. I arrived in the morning and would leave the following morning… I had to relieve myself down in the tunnels… My foster mother planned to send me to school, but my foster father was against it, he exploited me by making me work in the mine.”

On the other hand, UNICEF says that approximately, there are about 40,000 children who work in mines in southern DRC.

Apple, Samsung and Sony reactions to allegations of Child Labor

Apple has since come out to respond to the Amnesty report. The company said, “Underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain, and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards.”

Apple says it conducts rigorous audits on its supply chains, and if they found any supplier using underage workers, they force the supplier to:

Pay for the minor workers’ safe return home.

Finance the underage workers’ education at a school handpicked by them or their families.

Still continue paying the underage workers’ wages despite them no longer working for the company.

When the miners reach the legal age to work, they must offer them jobs at the company.

Touching specifically on the issue of underage workers at Cobalt, Apple said, “We are currently evaluating dozens of different materials, including cobalt, in order to identify labor and environmental risks as well as opportunities for Apple to bring effective, scalable and sustainable change.”

Sony had the following response, “We are working with the suppliers to address issues related to human rights and labor conditions at the production sites, as well as in the procurement of minerals and other raw materials.”

Samsung said that it has “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to child labor, and it conducts regular and rigorous audits of its supply chain. “If a violation of child labor is found, contracts with suppliers who use child labor will be immediately terminated.”

Source >> BBC.

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