Dark side chocolate
Miki Mistrati, a Danish journalist, lawyer, and writer who investigated the use of child labor and trafficked children in chocolate production, directed The Dark Side of Chocolate (Karelia, 2021).
Mistrati began filming in Germany, asking vendors where their chocolate comes from. They then flew to Mali, which is home to many of the children. They then traveled to the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria, where cocoa plantations can be found. The film concludes in Switzerland, which is home to both the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Nestle headquarters. The Chocolate Manufacturers Association formed the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement signed by the major chocolate companies almost ten years before the film was made, to end child trafficking and slave labor in the cocoa industry, in 2001 (Karelia, 2021).
Mistrati begins the film in Cologne, Germany, by asking representatives from several chocolate companies if they are aware of child labor in cocoa farms. The film depicts children in Mali being taken to towns near the border, such as Zegoua, where another trafficker transports the children over the border on a dirt bike after promising them paid work. The children are then sold to farmers for a starting price of 230 Euros each by a third trafficker (Karelia, 2021).
The children, aged 10 to 15, are forced to perform difficult and often dangerous labor, are frequently beaten, and, according to the film’s narrator, are rarely paid. According to the narrator, the majority of them remain on the plantation until they die, never seeing their families again. There is no documentary evidence to back up claims that perhaps the children are not paid or forced to work until they die. The Harkin-Engel Protocol stated that child labor would be prohibited (Karelia, 2021).
When confronted with the issue, corporate delegates denied all allegations of child labor and trafficking, but the filmmakers’ investigations revealed the continued use of victims of trafficking child slaves on cocoa trees. NestlÃ© and other corporations declined to watch the film and respond to questions. As a result, Mistrati erected a large screen outside NestlÃ©’s headquarters in Switzerland, forcing employees to witness child labor in the cocoa industry (Karelia, 2021).
Karelia, M. (2021). Money Does Grow on Trees: The Dark Side of Chocolate?.