Canada's corporate ethics watchdog has launched an investigation into Ralph Lauren's Canada unit over allegations that the apparel retailer's supply chain and operations in China used or benefited from the use of Uyghur forced labor.
The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) said it had published an initial assessment report after complaints filed by a coalition of 28 civil society organizations in June 2022 against the Polo shirts maker. CORE said the report detailed allegations that the company had supply relationships with Chinese companies that use or benefit from the use of Uyghur forced labor.
The watchdog said it was also looking into similar allegations for Canada-based mining and property investment firm GobiMin. Ralph Lauren and GobiMin did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment.
Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority group that live mainly in China's Xinjiang region, where they have faced severe repression and discrimination by the Chinese government. According to human rights groups, more than one million Uyghurs have been detained in internment camps, where they are subjected to torture, indoctrination, and forced labor. China has denied these accusations and claimed that the camps are vocational training centers. lives
In the last couple of years, several large U.S. and Canadian multinational companies have been accused of using Uygyur for forced labor either directly or in their supply chains. These include Nike, Apple, H&M, Volkswagen, and Coca-Cola. Some of these companies have faced boycotts, sanctions, and lawsuits as a result of their alleged complicity in human rights violations.
CORE is an independent body that monitors and investigates human rights abuses mainly by Canadian garment, mining, and oil and gas companies operating abroad. It has the mandate to make recommendations to the government and the companies involved, as well as to report publicly on its findings and actions. However, it does not have the power to impose sanctions or penalties on the companies.
The investigation into Ralph Laure and GobiMin is expected to take several months, during which CORE will engage with the companies, the complainants, and other relevant stakeholders. CORE said it will publish a final report with its findings and recommendations at the end of the investigation.