Canada investigates Nike and Dynasty Gold for the use of Uyghur slave labor.
The Canadian Ethics Commission is looking into allegations that Nike Canada and a gold mining business benefited from Uyghur forced labor in their China operations.
The watchdog’s investigations are the result of complaints made by a consortium of human rights organizations.
Nike says it has severed connections with the companies accused of utilizing Uyghur slave labor.
According to Dynasty Gold, these charges surfaced after they departed the region.
According to a 2022 United Nations study, China committed “serious human rights violations” against Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority community living in the Xinjiang area, that “may constitute international crimes, particularly crimes against humanity.” Beijing disputes the charges.
The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) has announced the first such probe since the debut of its complaint system in 2021.
According to the agency, Nike Canada Corp has supply agreements with many Chinese companies identified by an Australian think group as employing or benefiting from Uyghur forced labor.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) produced a paper in 2020 claiming that over 80,000 Uyghurs had been transported to work in industries throughout China.
According to the report, the corporation has taken “no concrete steps to ensure beyond a reasonable doubt that forced labor is not involved in their supply chain.”
Nike claims to have severed ties with these companies and has provided information on their due diligence procedures.
According to the article, Nike declined meetings with the ombudsman, but instead issued a letter stating that “we are concerned about reports of forced labor in, and related to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).”
“Nike does not source products from the XUAR, and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”
According to the research on Dynasty Gold, the corporation benefited from the employment of Uyghur forced labor at a mine in China in which the gold mining company had a controlling stake.
According to the mining firm, it has no operational authority over the mine and that these charges developed after it departed the region.
Ivy Chong, CEO of Dynasty, told the CBC that the initial story was “completely unfounded.”
CORE’s mandate is to hold Canadian apparel, mining, and oil and gas corporations operating outside of Canada accountable for potential human rights violations resulting from their operations, including supply chains.
“On their face, the allegations made by the complainants raise serious concerns about the possible abuse of the internationally recognized right to be free from forced labor,” Ombudsperson Sheri Meyerhoffer said in a copy of her preliminary assessment made public Tuesday.
“It is our mission to resolve human rights complaints in a fair and unbiased manner in order to assist those affected and to strengthen the companies involved’s responsible business practices.”
In June 2022, the watchdog investigated allegations lodged by a coalition of 28 civil society organizations.
Aside from the allegations against Nike and Dynasty Gold, CORE will issue reports on 11 other concerns.