Paris- French prosecutors have launched an investigation into four fashion retailers, including Fast Retailing in Japan, on suspicion of concealing crimes against humanity in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, according to judicial sources.
Sources said the procedure was related to accusations against China regarding the treatment of minority Muslim Uighurs in the region, including the use of forced labor.
According to sources, Uniqlo France, Zara owner Inditex, France’s SMCP and SKECHERS were the subjects of the investigation, and a report by the French media website Mediapart was confirmed.
“After filing the complaint, an investigation was initiated on crimes against humanity within the counter-terrorism public prosecutor’s office,” a source said.
Inditex dismissed the allegations of legal complaints, implemented strict traceability controls, and added that it would fully cooperate with the French investigation.
“Inditex does not tolerate any form of forced labor and has established policies and procedures to prevent this practice from occurring in the supply chain,” the company said in a statement.
SMCP said it would work with French authorities to prove that the allegations were false.
“SMCP works with suppliers around the world and claims that there are no direct suppliers in the areas mentioned in the media,” he added, adding that SMCP regularly audits suppliers.
UNIQLO France could not immediately comment outside of European business hours. SKECHERS did not comment on the proceedings in dispute, referring to a March 2021 statement, stating that it maintains a strict supplier code of conduct.
Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) filed complaints against multinational corporations in France in early April for forced labor and concealment of crimes against humanity.
UN experts and rights groups estimate that more than one million people have been detained in recent years in vast camps in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China, centered on Uighur and other Muslim minorities. ..
Many former prisoners say they have been trained and abused in ideology. Rights groups say camps have been used as a source of low-paying, compulsory labor.
China denies all accusations of abuse.
Several Western brands, including H & M, Burberry and Nike, have been hit by consumer boycotts in China after raising concerns about forced labor in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
In March, the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese authorities for human rights abuses in the region. Beijing immediately retaliated with its own punitive measures.
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