Today, Unfairtobacco joined activists of the Supply Chain Law Initiative in a rally in Berlin protesting against the federal cabinet‘s postponement of its discussion on the basic elements for such a law.

Using an oversized legal frame placed in front of the Federal Chancellery, more than 100 civil society organizations called on the Federal Government to finally ensure that companies effectively have to protect human rights and the environment. To this end, a petition with more than 222,222 signatures was symbolically handed over to the Federal Chancellery.

In view of the debates within the Federal Government, the initiative particularly criticizes the position of Peter Altmaier, Minister of Economics. In contrast to the basic elements of the law developed by the ministries of labour and economic cooperation, the ministry of economics wants to limit the application of the supply chain law to companies with 5,000 employees or more. In addition, the ministry suggested to drop the civil law enforcement mechanism. Regarding the tobacco industry, for example, Philip Morris GmbH and Reemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH would thus not fall under the law and be held accountable. In addition, people affected by human rights violations would have hardly any opportunity to submit their cases for compensation to German courts. A lawsuit like the one filed by hundreds of Malawian farmers and their children against British American Tobacco in Great Britain could not be filed in this way.

The basic elements proposed by the ministries of labour and economic cooperation have already been met with criticism from civil society. The proposal suggested to limit the application of the law to companies headquartered in Germany and failed to include environmental due diligence obligations.

In order to really combat the widespread use of child labor in tobacco growing in countries such as Malawi, Bangladesh, Zambia or Brazil we urgently need the introduction of a supply chain law that also holds the tobacco industry accountable.

BLUE21/ Unfairtobacco is a member of the Supply Chain Law Initiative.

The Supply Chain Law Initiative is a coalition of more than 100 civil society organizations, including Unfairtobacco. We want companies to respect human rights and prevent environmental degradation. That‘s why we need a supply chain law!