Human Trafficking 'Unacceptable', Says UK Confectionary Association

The Biscuit Cake Chocolate & Confectionary Association (BCCCA), which represents the cocoa and chocolate industry in the UK, recently spoke out against human trafficking - particularly regarding children who labour in cocoa farms.

Noting that human trafficking is 'unacceptable', Alison Ward, Communications Director of BCCCA told Christian Today: "We all want to ensure that the cocoa we buy is grown using internationally approved labour standards - notably without the worst forms of child or forced labour. This issue is so important that all the major chocolate companies have come together to ensure that the right systems and programmes are in place.

"Our industry has a long-term commitment to cocoa growing communities and we are keen to help raise standards for all those dependent on cocoa for their futures."

Nearly half the world's cocoa is harvested in the Cote D'Ivoire. As it is a hidden trade, exact figures are hard to come by. In 2000 the US State Department Human Rights report found that more than 15,000 Malian children were trafficked into this area to work as slaves both on coffee and cocoa plantations, the majority being cocoa.

"Chocolate manufacturers promised to end the use of trafficked children in harvesting the cocoa beans that make our chocolate by 2005," explained a spokesperson from Stop The Traffik, "but this has not been done. They have started several worthy initiatives but are not addressing the central issue of trafficked labour.

"Stop The Traffik is calling for the whole industry to declare which farms they buy cocoa beans from, and to guarantee that no trafficked labour is used. Nothing less will do."

Many churches and faith groups across the world are currently leading the way in bringing justice for children who labour in cocoa farms.