A British government investigation has revealed that the activities of a minerals company supported armed conflict and forced labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The company in question, Afrimex, sourced minerals from an area of eastern DRC occupied by rebel troops until 2003. The firm has now been criticised for failing to make sure its trading activities were not contributing to conflict and human rights abuses.
The government investigation found that rebel soldiers extracted money from the firm’s supply chain, helping them fund their campaign. Through its lack of diligence, the firm also failed to contribute towards ending the use of child labour and forced labour.
Gareth Thomas, UK trade minister, said: ‘We are determined to promote the highest ethical standards and companies trading in conflict areas should take all possible steps to meet them.’
A complaint against Afrimex’s activities between 1998 and 2007 was made last year by campaign organisation Global Witness, triggering an investigation by the UK National Contact Point (NCP).