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Democratic Republic of Congo

    April 23, 2018

    Amnesty is concerned about the strong possibility that there is child labour in Microsoft’s supply chain. Amnesty researchers have discovered that cobalt, a metal used in the rechargeable batteries of portable electronics such as laptops, tablets and cell phones, is being mined by children and adults under hazardous conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

    Amnesty researchers traced the cobalt supply chain and determined that the cobalt is very likely used in batteries in products sold by Microsoft, Samsung, Apple and others. We urged these companies, and others, to investigate their cobalt supply chains, publish the names of their smelters, and address any human rights issues, in accordance with international business and human rights guidelines.

    Initially, Apple and Samsung neglected to address the serious concerns raised in Amnesty’s cobalt report, but when more than 100,000 people signed an Amnesty petition to Apple and Samsung, the companies finally took concrete steps to address human rights abuses in their cobalt supply chain.

    September 29, 2017

    By Mark Dummett, Business and Human Rights Researcher

    The Scottish government recently announced plans to, by 2032, phase out petrol and diesel vehicles. By 2040, the only cars on United Kingdom roads will also be electric, and petrol stations will be replaced by car charging points. Meanwhile, in the United States, Elon Muskhas announced the launch of the Tesla Model 3, which he hopes will become the world’s first mass-market electric car.

    August 15, 2013

    By Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International

    I have just left Katanga in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where my colleague Lisa Tassi and I were following up on Amnesty International’s work on mining and human rights in the region.

    In some ways this is easy to do. Besides mining – mostly of copper and cobalt – precious little happens in southern Katanga. But two very different methods are employed to extract these minerals. Industrial mining, involving large multinational companies, is managed from air-conditioned offices and carried out with heavy equipment; small-scale artisanal mining is frequently done in sweltering heat by men (and in some cases boys under the age of 18) working with basic tools.

    Artisanal mining can be a desperate business. On top of suffering harsh work conditions, many creuseurs – meaning “diggers”, as the miners are known locally – are ruthlessly exploited by traders who buy from them along a largely opaque supply chain. In theory the state has some oversight of the system, but the reality is quite different.