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Child labor still an issue in jewelry industry

Seven years after the end of the civil war that targeted children for atrocities, hundreds of children are still exploited as labor in diamond mines. Recent reports by the US Department of Labor report and Harvard Human Rights Program communicate consistent findings.

The issue of child labor received significant attention with the 2006 blockbuster movie “Blood Diamond,” but quickly fell out of consumer consciousness. The Kimberley Process, a voluntary certification established to prevent the sale of diamonds from funding armed conflict in developing countries, was largely held up as a solution that consumers bought into.

A recent report released by the US Department of Labor (DoL) concludes that child labor exists in the diamond activities of several countries including The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Based on 15 years of investigation, the DoL report states that children are working in India’s gem cutting industry and in the metal mining industry (gold and silver) as well in countries such as Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, North Korea and Tanzania to name just a few.

In addition to child labor, the DoL report cites Sierra Leone for using forced labor as well. These findings seem to be consistent with a 2009 report published by the Harvard University Human Rights Program.

The end of conflict in Sierra Leone has not improved the lives of children working in the mines according to the report called “Digging in the Dirt.” Many children have been forced to work in the mines for survival after their parents were killed in the civil war.

[information about the DoL report was gathered from]

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Meghan Connolly Haupt
C5 company, LLC