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Zara Canada is being investigated over allegations of Uyghur forced labour in China 

This comes after a complaint was filed by a coalition of 28 civil society organizations in June of last year. (Courtesy: BNN Bloomberg)

Canada’s corporate ethics watchdog launched an investigation into allegations that Zara Canada Inc. is working with companies who allegedly use forced labour in China.

On Monday, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), announced its independent fact-finding investigation into serious claims of Uyghur forced labour in the supply chain of the company.

This comes after a complaint was filed by a coalition of 28 civil society organizations in June of last year.

“The Zara Initial Assessment report details the allegation that the company has supply relationships with Chinese companies identified as using or benefitting from the use of Uyghur forced labour,” the press release read.

“Zara denies the allegation, stating that the complaint is inadmissible because the alleged human rights abuses do not arise from its operations. It claims to have no commercial relationship with any factory in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”

According to the watchdog, Zara declined to be a part of mediation as it believes the allegations are untrue.

However, all parties are expected to “act in good faith” by doing their part throughout the complaint process.

According to the U.S department of Labor, the People’s Republic of China has detained more than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in China’s far western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

It estimates that 100,000 Uyghurs and other ethnic minority ex-detainees in China could be working in “conditions of forced labor.”

This comes as cheap clothing production, also widely known as fast fashion, accelerates across the globe both wreaking havoc on the environment and resulting in humanitarian hazards.

This isn’t the retailer’s first run in with watchdogs.

Back in 2021, a Zara store in a town in France was stopped from opening its doors following concerns over “sustainability and alleged exploitation of China’s minority Muslim Uyghurs,” Reuters reported. 



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