Jewelers request to do more to fight gold, diamond mining abuse

Johannesburg – According to the survey, there are some important jewelry brands that have actually acted to protect rights during COVID-19 pandemic

As jewelry sales get a boost before Christmas, consumers were warned on Tuesday that big brands are still not doing enough to combat human rights and environmental abuses in their gold and diamond supply chains.

In a survey of 15 major jewelery companies, Human Rights Watch found that few concrete steps have been taken to protect workers’ rights or assess the impact of COVID-19 as the pandemic fuels labor abuses around the world appears from a report.

However, the advocacy group has found improvements since conducting the same survey two years ago.

“Many jewelry companies have made progress … but consumers still do not have sufficient assurance that their jewelry is free of human rights violations,” said Juliane Kippenberg, co-rights director of Human Rights Watch.

“The COVID-19 pandemic requires jewelry companies to be even more vigilant in identifying and responding to human rights violations,” Kippenberg said in a statement.

According to the United Nations’ guiding principles for business and human rights, jewelry companies are obliged to monitor and correct abuses of human and environmental rights in their supply chains.

The 15 companies surveyed, which generate more than $ 40 billion in revenue annually, included major brands such as Tiffany & Co and Pandora A / S, both of which were considered “strong” for their ethical purchasing efforts. .

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, rights groups have reported deteriorating working conditions for formal and informal miners.

Some lost their income when mines were closed due to lockouts, while others were forced to work and live together in tight conditions – making social distance impossible, Human Rights Watch said, outlining various abuses around the world.

Referring to previous investigations, the report highlighted torture by syndicates controlling illegal gold mines in Venezuela, as well as child labor and mercury poisoning in small-scale gold mining in Ghana, Mali, the Philippines and Tanzania.

‘MAINTENANCE STANDARDS’

The advocacy group based its rankings on the procurement practice information submitted by the 15 companies, or on what was publicly available.

Pandora, which received a higher rating two years ago, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that by 2025 it would only use recycled silver and gold, and the Danish firm and Tiffany & Co said they were proud of their progress .

Human Rights Watch’s report described Bulgari, Cartier and Signet Jewelers Limited as “moderate” for their efforts to acquire gold and diamonds responsibly.

Signet responded by saying it was ‘committed to the continuous improvement of the integrity of the global jewelery supply chain’.

Boodles, Chopard and Harry Winston were considered ‘fair’, although they all scored higher than in the 2018 report.

While the recording acknowledges improvements at Indian jewelery manufacturer Tanishq, it, along with Chow Tai Fook and the German Christ, is considered ‘weak’.

Tanishq said it did not agree with the ratings in the report, arguing that it did not reflect ‘on-ground supply chain issues’, while Chow Tai Fook said it appreciated valuable recommendations for the industry.

The Hong Kong company is investing in blockchain technology for ‘digital mine-to-consumer records of diamonds’, he added.

There was not enough information available to rank Kalyan, Mikimoto, Rolex and TBZ, Human Rights Watch said.

The other trademarks included in the survey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Responsible Jewelery Council, which sets ethical standards for the jewelery and watch industry, said in response to Tuesday’s report that it was working to address the impact of the pandemic on the sector.

“People around the world are affected in various ways by the COVID virus. The jewelry industry is no exception. It is essential to maintain standards in these challenging times,” the council said in an email.

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