A case against Nestlé pending at the U.S. Supreme Court might have detrimental consequences for the future of the Alien Tort Statute. The Supreme Court is currently considering ending a lawsuit that claims Nestlé facilitated the use of child slave labour on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast, a case that could further limit access to U.S. courts by victims of human rights abuses abroad.
Six former child slaves have filed a lawsuit against Nestlé, claiming the company has deliberately contributed to maintaining child slave labour in Ivory Coast. The plaintiffs, at the time between 12 and 14 years old, were put to work at cocoa plantations that supply to Nestlé. They were forced to work more than 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with no compensation. During this time, they were abused, imprisoned and tortured.
The main legal issue in this case is whether the Alien Tort Statue is applicable to U.S. companies and to facts that did not take place on U.S. territory. Rethinking SLIC*’s Göran Sluiter has, along with other international lawyers and scholars, submitted an Amicus brief to the Supreme Court in which they advocate for a broad interpretation of the Alien Tort Statue. In their brief they ask the Court to consider case law which substantiates the point of view that courts are allowed to exercise jurisdiction over domestic corporations for their conduct that causes injury abroad.