O.k. so this is big news, folks. Possibly one of the biggest Fair Trade news developments in years!
Basically, an Interpol-led operation conducted by the Cote d’Ivoire police resulted in the rescue of more than 50 children and the arrest of at least eight individuals for the illegal recruitment of children.
What does this have to do with Fair Trade? The children had been bought by cocoa (and palm) plantation owners looking for cheap (and illegal) labor to harvest the cocoa. As our friends at ILRF point out: The US Department of State estimates that more than 109,000 children in Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry work under “the worst forms of child labor,” and that some 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement.
This operation codenamed “BIA” (after the river separating Ghana from Cote d’Ivoire) clearly demonstrates the existence of child trafficking and forced labor within the region. Hopefully this rescue is the first of many more actions to come, and will demonstrate that illegally hiring and forcing children to do the cocoa industry’s dirty work will not be tolerated.