The U.S. government has suspended all imports of tobacco from Malawi over child labor allegations, reports The Guardian.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Friday issued a “withhold release” order on tobacco from Malawi, meaning shipments arriving in the United States will be
detained at the port of entry. Importers will have to prove the tobacco is not produced with labor prohibited under U.S. law to have the shipments released.
The ban follows the news that human rights lawyers are to bring a case against British American Tobacco (BAT) in the high court in London over child labor in Malawi’s tobacco fields.U.K. law firm Leigh Day alleges that BAT is responsible for the low price paid for the leaf in Malawi, which keeps tenant farmers in such poverty that they have no choice but to make their children work in the fields.
BAT says its core policies “specifically state that we do not condone forced, bonded or involuntary labor and that we do not condone or employ child labor,
and [we] seek to ensure that the welfare, health and safety of children are paramount at all times.”