DRC - Children Exploited for Better Batteries

Arno Froese

“Our children are dying like dogs.”

That is the sorrowful statement of one Congolese mother whose son and cousin died while working the cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She and other parents like her are part of a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. federal court in Washington, D.C., in 2019 seeking to hold Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Tesla accountable for what they allege is profiting off the misery of child labor in their quest for cobalt.

“Cobalt is a key component of every rechargeable lithium-ion battery in all of the gadgets made by defendants and all other tech and electric car companies in the world that has brought on the latest wave of cruel exploitation fueled by greed, corruption and indifference to a population of powerless, starving Congolese people,” the suit reads.

The companies have argued the case should be dismissed, asserting they have no control over the mining practices in a foreign country and that the families lack standing to bring the suit on U.S. soil. Furthermore, they stressed they have no direct connection to mining on foreign soil.

Apple over the years has cracked down on its global supply chain of cobalt and at one point said it would stop buying cobalt mined by hand in the Congo.

Child labor practices in the Congo have been widely reported in media outlets throughout the world and documented by human rights experts.

In 2016, Amnesty International published a major report on the conditions for child laborers mining cobalt in the DRC.

The report, called “This Is What We Die For—Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo Power the Global Trade in Cobalt,” said it is widely recognized on an international scale that the involvement of children in mining constitutes one of the worst forms of child labor, which governments are required to prohibit and eliminate.

Although companies like Apple have promoted voluntary programs in which human rights abuses in the supply chain for cobalt can be reported, the lawsuit contends these programs are mere lip service.

-www.deseret.com, 23 May 2021

Arno's Commentary

Money is still king, and the love of money is the root of all evil, the Bible says. Will the lawsuit succeed? Mostly likely not—at best, only cosmetic changes will occur. Poverty and human rights abuses go hand-in-hand, and will continue to the very end. Revelation 6:15 reveals: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains.” Notice the words, “and every bondman.” That simply means those who are forced—out of necessity—to be subject to unusual cruelty, all for the sake of profit.

Here we are also reminded of James 5:4: “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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