The celebration of Earth Day this month provides the opportunity to reflect on the overlap between labor rights and the environment. Verité has found a strong correlation between labor abuses and environmental damages. Often, activities that violate environmental regulations take place in areas where the government lacks the capacity to adequately enforce the law. Verité’s research into palm oil and illegal gold mining, for example, has found that the absence of the rule of law at remote worksites can result in permanent ecosystem damage, dangerous working conditions, and risk of forced labor.
Verité’s report, The Nexus of Illegal Gold Mining and Human Trafficking in Global Supply Chains, starkly highlights how illegal gold mining throughout Latin America is tied to human trafficking, which will be of interest to the wide variety of companies and retailers that sell products containing gold.
Conflict Minerals, Expanded: The Nexus of Organized Crime, Human Trafficking, Corruption, and Conflict in Latin American Mining
Quinn Kepes, a Program Director at Verité, was recently interviewed by Fusion (ABC/Univision) regarding the intersection between illegal gold mining, organized crime, conflict, corruption, and human trafficking.
Verité’s report on risks of forced labor in artisanal and small scale mining (ASM) in Peru raises challenging questions for companies in industries including jewelry, mining, electronics and banking. Not only does the report show that these risks are very real, but it reveals that ASM gold tainted by human rights abuses makes its way—through corruption, laundering and illegal export—into the hands of global traders, refineries, banks and into our watches and smart phones.
Hundreds of thousands of people are employed in Peru in artisanal gold mining and peripheral services (such as restaurants, tire repair, brothels, etc.). During research for our latest report, Verité interviewed almost 100 workers, each of whom told a unique story of their experiences. Interviewees told us horrendous stories of labor and sexual exploitation in Peru. Here are two of those stories.