Technology

Watchdog: Amazon still working with Chinese firms accused of using forced labor

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Amazon continues to work with Chinese suppliers linked to forced labor among the repressed ethnic minority Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region, according to the Tech Transparency Project (TTP).

The tech giant’s most recently updated suppliers list includes five companies that allegedly have either direct or indirect links to the forced labor of the Uyghur community, the group said. 

Three of Amazon’s suppliers — Luxshare Precision Industry, AcBel Polytech and Lens Technology — have reportedly used forced labor directly, according to the TTP, a research initiative of the Campaign for Accountability.

Two more suppliers, GoerTek and Hefei BOE Optoelectronics, are allegedly supplied with products created by forced labor, it said. 

Amazon writes in its supply chain standards that it “does not tolerate suppliers that traffic workers or in any other way exploit workers by means of threat, force, coercion, abduction, or fraud.”

However, according to the TTP, the links between Amazon’s suppliers and the forced labor of the Uyghurs were public before Amazon’s most recent update to its supplier list in June 2021.

Amazon also continued to document a supply relationship with Esquel Group for a year after the U.S. imposed sanctions on a subsidiary of the company due to its use of forced labor.

The forced labor of Muslim-minority Uyghurs often occurs through “programs euphemistically called ‘labor transfers,’” the TTP says.

Workers from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are moved elsewhere and are allegedly coerced into staying at factories around the country.

In response to the TTP findings, an Amazon spokesperson said: “Amazon complies with the laws and regulations in all jurisdictions in which it operates, and expects suppliers to adhere to our Supply Chain Standards. We take allegations of human rights abuses seriously, including those related to the use or export of forced labor. Whenever we find or receive proof of forced labor, we take action.”

Updated at 6:23 p.m.

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