Forced labor of Uyghurs: Paris opens an investigation against four textile firms

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Accused of profiting from the forced labor of Uyghurs in China, four giants of ready-to-wear, including Uniqlo and Skechers, have been targeted since the end of June by an investigation in France for “concealment of crimes against humanity”, an extremely rare initiative.

The accusation is fraught with meaning. The French National Antiterrorist Prosecutor’s Office (Pnat) has opened an investigation against four companies in the textile sector for concealing crimes against humanity, a procedure linked to the suspicions of forced labor suffered by members of the Muslim Uyghur community in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, we learned Thursday, July 1 from a judicial source.

This source told Reuters that the investigation was targeting Uniqlo France, owned by Japanese Fast Retailing, Inditex, which owns Zara, SMCP and Skechers, among others, confirming information first reported by Mediapart.


Rigorous traceability controls

“An investigation has indeed been opened by the ‘crimes against humanity’ pole of the anti-terrorism prosecution following a complaint. This investigation is opened for concealment of crimes against humanity,” said the source.

In April, NGOs lodged a complaint against these companies for “concealment of the crime of reduction in aggravated servitude”, “concealment of the crime of trafficking in human beings in an organized gang” or “concealment of the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity “.

Inditex and SMCP have dismissed these accusations. No immediate comment could be obtained from Skechers and Uniqlo France.

Specifying that he had learned through the press of the opening of the investigation, Inditex declared that he “strongly contested the criminal qualifications which seem to be the subject of this complaint”.

“Inditex recalls that rigorous traceability checks are carried out within the group. They have made it possible to verify that the allegations stemming from this complaint are unfounded. It will cooperate, to establish this, with the French judicial authorities”, he added. he declares.

An investigation to “establish the truth”

SMCP, which has expressed its willingness to cooperate fully with the investigation, said it saw it as a “necessary step to establish the truth.” “SMCP works with suppliers located around the world and reaffirms that it does not have direct suppliers in the region mentioned in the press.”

The United States accuses China of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region, citing the detention of more than a million people, mostly from Muslim minorities, in forced labor camps. Beijing denies these accusations.

In March, several countries and the European Union imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

For its part, the Japanese ready-to-wear brand Uniqlo reaffirmed on Friday that there was no forced labor in its supply chains. When it does, “we will fully cooperate with investigators to reaffirm that there is no forced labor in our supply chains,” the brand added.

With Reuters and AFP

1 thought on “Forced labor of Uyghurs: Paris opens an investigation against four textile firms”

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