Nike and Patagonia are named in a European lawsuit for complicity in ‘forced labor’ practices in Xinjiang (China).

man in brown jacket walking on brown field during daytime

The European Center for Constitutional Rights (ECCHR), which is suing a number of well-known fashion brands including Nike, C&A, and Patagonia for being complicit in the forced labor of the Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang Province, has filed suit against several of these brands.

The criminal complaint was filed by Dutch prosecutors, with the support of Prakken d’Oliveira Human Rights Law Lawyers. It will examine the corporations’ alleged complicity for human rights violations that could lead to crimes against humanity.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre reported the news of the filing. This charity is registered in the UK and the US and works to promote human rights in business and eliminate abuse.

“Alarming stories of torture”

“Alarming reports about torture and reeducation camps in China, as well as forced labor in the Xinjiang area in China, have increased in frequency ever since 2017,” are some of the filings. The companies are known to have suppliers in Xinjiang, according to both research reports and publicly available supply chain information.”

“The decision to not only concentrate on national criminal law regarding labor exploitation but to expand the complaint to crimes against humanity underlines the scale and severity of the crimes committed in Xinjiang” says Barbara van Straaten Human Rights Lawyer, Prakken d’Oliveira.

“It is unacceptable for European governments to criticize China for human rights violations, while these companies profit from the exploitation Uyghur people. Corina Ajder (Legal Advisor, ECCHR) says that it is time for responsible corporate officers to be investigated and, if necessary, held accountable.”

The ECCHR charges the companies with “directly and indirectly abetting, profiting” from the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in the area. This region supplies more than a fifth of the world’s cotton.

The BBC published a cache of documents last week that directly linked top Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, to the state’s crackdown against Uyghur Muslims.

Similar complaints were filed in France and Germany.

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