A Canadian watchdog have launched an investigation into allegations whether fashion retailer Ralph Lauren Canada is selling products made with Uyghur forced labour in China. This is the second such investigation after Nike Canada was accused of similar allegations.
The latest probe against Ralph Lauren follows a complaint by a coalition of 28 civil society organisations with the watchdog last year. They had alleged that ‘Ralph Lauren Canada has supply relationships with Chinese companies that use or benefit from the use of Uyghur forced labour.’
The watchdog, Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, allowed such investigations against large retailers for using forced Uyghur labour in Xinjiang.
According to report by Canada’s The Globe And Mail, Mehmet Tohti from the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project said that the world was watching how Canada handled these investigations. Tohti added that this was the first time a government-affiliated body anywhere in the world had decided to investigate Nike and Ralph Lauren over alleged ties to forced labour in China.
“CORE’s announcement is a valued step in the right direction to hold Canadian companies accountable for their human-rights violations abroad, specifically those which profit the CCP’s [Chinese Communist Party’s] diminishment of Uyghurs’ basic human rights and their policies of genocide,” he was quoted as saying.
Ralph Lauren said in a statement it had zero tolerance for forced labour of any kind.
It said, “Ralph Lauren is committed to responsible sourcing, trade compliance and conducting its global operations ethically
“Our company has zero tolerance for forced labor of any kind, and if we find that any facility, anywhere in the world, is not acting in accordance with our operating standards, we take appropriate remedial and disciplinary action. Over the years, we have invested significantly in supply chain traceability and due diligence, diversified our sourcing locations and prioritized responsibly sourced materials to create a more agile and sustainable supply chain.”
Michele Bachelet, then the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, had visited Xinjiang in 2022 and filed a scathing report saying that the Chinese regime had committed ‘serious human rights violations’ against Uyghur Muslims in the region, which may amount to crimes against humanity.