MEP hails victory against modern-day slavery

In an astounding victory for anti-slavery campaigners all over the world, the European Parliament has voted in favour of mandatory measures to eradicate the presence of conflict minerals in the supply chain, as called for by Alyn Smith MEP.  

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The draft law now supports a fully mandatory mechanism to carry out supply chain due diligence. These measures cover tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG). Furthermore, smelters and refiners, as the last point at which a minerals’ origin can be effectively traced, must now undergo a compulsory, independent, third-party audit to check their due diligence practices. 

Alyn, Scotland’s voice on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said:

“This is fantastic news, and I’d like to congratulate my fellow MEPs who voted with me for mandatory due diligence, despite the incredibly tight margins.

“The original proposal called for voluntary measures, which would have done nothing to combat trade in conflict minerals. We pushed for urgent amendments to make it mandatory, and we succeeded. 

“The conflict minerals are mined in conditions of extreme exploitation and slavery. According to the International Peace Information Service (IPIS), armed groups are present at more than half of all mining sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The local population is illegally coerced into working in the mines, and controlled by rape and violence.

“The European Commission says it’s difficult for companies to carry out due diligence because information on the origin of minerals is hard to trace. But the European Parliament made it clear today that this is no excuse for turning a blind eye to modern-day slavery.

“By working within the EU, Scotland is part of something that we couldn’t have achieved on our own. Thousands of constituents contacted me to ask that I represent them by taking a stand against conflict minerals, and that’s what we did today."

Bandi Mbubi of Congo Calling added:

“Rebel groups and rogue factions of the Congolese National Army have been profiting off the backs of people living around the mines for years, by taxing and trading minerals to help finance their operations. It’s a lucrative business: there is a global demand for these minerals for consumer products, including mobile phones, laptops, jewellery and cars. According to Source Intelligence, 75% of the funding that sustains armed conflict in the DRC comes from mining revenue.

“In order to effect genuine change, the EU needs to implement broad, mandatory guidelines on sourcing minerals for all businesses that bring these minerals into the EU."

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Alyn wrote to top tech companies to ask what measures they had in place to ensure their supply chain was free from conflict minerals. Their responses can be found here.