Uniqlo and Skechers among French companies investigating the use of Uyghur labor
French prosecutors are investigating various retail companies, including Uniqlo and Skechers, over allegations they used the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
The Chinese government denied all accusations of using forced labor on Friday and denounced the French investigation as interference in internal affairs, the Associated Press reported.
The Humanity Unit of the French anti-terrorism prosecution, which has the right to prosecute crimes outside France, opened the investigation in June. The investigation is based on a complaint filed this year by an exiled Uyghur worker and three human rights groups, AP reported.
A specific culprit has not been named in the investigation, but the investigation seeks to identify those responsible and prosecute them for crimes against humanity, said a judicial official not authorized to be identified publicly. In addition to Uniqlo and Skechers, human rights groups claim that French company SMCP and Inditex, owner of clothing retailer Zara, used Uyghur labor and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
For more Associated Press reporting, see below.
China has faced criticism and sanctions for detaining over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities for political re-education in the northwestern Xinjiang region, and for imprisoning or intimidating to silence those she sees as potential opponents of Tibet in Hong Kong.
Uniqlo said in a statement to the PA on Friday that he had not been officially briefed on the investigation, but would cooperate fully with French authorities “to reaffirm that there is no forced labor in our supply chains “.
The company said none of its production partners are located in Xinjiang.
“There has been no evidence of forced labor or any other human rights violation at any of our suppliers. If there is any evidence, we will stop doing business with this supplier,” he said. .
Skechers said earlier this year that regular audits of its facilities in China have found no signs of forced labor.
Inditex has stated on its website that it takes “a zero tolerance approach to forced labor in all of its manifestations and we are implementing policies and procedures to ensure that this practice does not take place anywhere in our chain. ‘supply’.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday, “We have repeatedly pointed out that the so-called” forced labor “in Xinjiang is a lie concocted by a small number of anti-Chinese elements. from the United States and a few other countries, with the aim of disrupting Xinjiang and containing China. “
“We strongly oppose any external force interfering in China’s internal affairs through Xinjiang-related issues,” he continued.
Human rights groups celebrated the French investigation and expressed hope that it will help shed light on what is happening in Xinjiang.