NGOs file complaint in France against clothing firms

10 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

PARIS: An NGO alliance has called in France for an investigation of four multinational clothing manufacturers, accusing them of profiting from forced labour of the Uyghur minority in China, they said Friday.

The complaint targets the clothing giants Inditex, Uniqlo and SMCP as well as footwear manufacturer Skechers, who it charged concealed forced labour and crimes against humanity in the production of the goods, reports AFP.

The complaint was filed by anti-corruption group Sherpa, the Ethique NGO which is the French branch of the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Uyghur Institute of Europe, as well as an Uyghur woman who had been held in a camp in Xinjiang in China.

In a statement, the NGOS said the complaint aimed to furnish the French authorities with evidence that the companies were implicated in the forced labour that they said Uyghurs have been subjected to in the China camps.

It “denounces the impunity of these actors in the face of violations committed within the context of economic globalisation,” they said.

They accused the four companies, as well as other entities, of continuing to market goods using cotton produced in the Xinjiang region and of thus being “complicit in the serious crimes committed there.”

The statement said the complaint was the first in a number of such petitions that would be filed in European countries in the months ahead.

Rights groups believe at least one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been incarcerated in camps in the Xinjiang region, where China is also accused of forcibly sterilising women and imposing forced labour.

The United States says “genocide” has been inflicted on the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region, while Beijing has denied all allegations of abuses and has insisted its policies in Xinjiang are necessary to counter violent extremism.