H&M and IKEA are among a number of global retailers said to be at the end of supply chains involving cotton products from the Chinese province of Xinjiang. According to BBC and Wall Street Journal reports, rights groups say Xinjiang’s Uighur minority are being persecuted and recruited for forced labour.
“You can't be sure that you don't have coerced labour in your supply chain if you do cotton business in China,” Nathan Ruser, researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the BBC.
H&M has stated: “The H&M group prohibits all forms of forced labour and we place the same demands on our suppliers regardless of the country of production. We have no clothing production in Xinjiang, but we do have an indirect business relationship with a yarn supplier who in turn has a subcontractor in this region. We are well aware of the difficulties in detecting and preventing forced labour in a complex supply chain. We therefore see that close cooperation and exchange of information with organisations and other relevant actors is extremely important”.
IKEA has said an IWAY audit of its subcontractor in the region in July this year confirmed that “no forced labour was taking place”.
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