Human rights group European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has filed a complaint with the Public Prosecution Service against clothing companies, including C&A, Nike, Patagonia and State of Art.
According to ECCHR, those companies have made products from Chinese cotton produced with slave labour.
In the Xinjiang region of China, the original inhabitants, the Uyghurs, are oppressed by China. They are also put to work in what China calls re-education camps. ECCHR argues that cotton from Xinjiang is therefore made with forced labour and that the companies that use the raw material are therefore partly responsible for human rights violations. The complaint was filed in the Netherlands because the companies involved are registered here or have their European headquarters.
The Dutch charity Clean Clothes Campaign (SKC) calls on the Public Prosecution Service to tackle the case quickly. “It is vital that legal means are used to enforce human rights in the supply chains of companies that outsource their production,” said Wyger Wentholt of SKC. According to him, clothing chains are still hiding too much behind excuses.
Earlier this year, many brands said they would no longer use cotton from Xinjiang, including Nike. That put those brands on a boycott in China, where consumers believe the move constitutes an unjustified accusation against their country. Chinese brands took advantage of the nationalistic atmosphere among Chinese shoppers.