Canada’s corporate watchdog on Thursday launched investigations of Walmart, Hugo Boss and jeans maker Diesel over allegations they used forced labor from China’s Uyghur minority.
The announcement follows similar probes started in the past month of Ralph Lauren, Nike and Canadian mining firm Dynasty Gold by the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE).
A coalition of 28 civil society organizations last year filed complaints with the watchdog alleging Walmart, Hugo Boss and Diesel use Chinese suppliers with factories that have been linked to Uyghur forced labor.
All three denied the accusations and declined to participate in the ombudsperson’s preliminary assessments of the claims.
And so, ombudsperson Sheri Meyerhoffer said in a statement, “We will be launching investigations into the allegations.”
Rights groups say more than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been held in so-called re-education camps in China’s western Xinjiang region, with a slew of abuses that include forced labor.
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Lawmakers in Western nations, including Canada, have called the crackdown in Xinjiang a genocide, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has referred to the treatment of Uyghurs as crimes against humanity.
Beijing denies the accusations, describing the facilities as vocational centers designed to curb extremism.