Anti-slavery campaign targets Nintendo for protest day

A new campaign has been launched by anti-slavery organization Walk Free that aims to persuade Nintendo to tighten up its supply chain and avoid the use of 'conflict minerals' mined by slave labor.

Walk Free has launched a video lampooning Nintendo characters Mario and Luigi, which states that Nintendo has yet to respond to a forceful campaign to join an electronics industry audit program for conflict-free mineral supplies. The video points out that minerals sourced from some suppliers come from slavery operations in conflict regions, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, where miners are often forced to work at gunpoint.

Walk Free's website states that the campaign aims to tell Nintendo that "slavery is not a game." It adds, "We've sent 430,558 emails calling on Nintendo to take concrete steps to ensure slave-mined conflict minerals are not in its gaming consoles, and we have heard nothing back."

Electronics devices like games consoles make use of minerals such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, often sourced from conflict zones. "Government troops and militias fight for control of the mines," states Walk Free. "They often terrorize communities using forced labour, debt bondage, sexual slavery, the use of children by armed groups, and other forms of child slavery. Child slaves are often used for the worst types of labour such as diggers at the mine sites, or porters assisting in the transport of conflict minerals."

A protest day is being planned to coincide with Nintendo's Annual General Meeting on June 27. Supporters are being encouraged to cosplay and demonstrate outside retail outlets selling Nintendo consoles. Anyone who signs up receives a downloadable kit explaining protest plans.

Nintendo has previously stated to Polygon that it provides "specific directions to our production partners regarding socially responsible procurement practices," based on "relevant laws, international standards and guidelines that focus on protecting human rights, ensuring workplace safety, promoting corporate ethics, and safeguarding the environment."

Walk Free counters that this is not enough. It points out that many companies, including Intel, Apple, Sony and Microsoft, have signed up for full audits of their supply chains to root out minerals sourced from slave-mines. Its literature states, "Nintendo ranked dead last among 24 major consumer electronics companies on efforts to examine and end the use of conflict minerals. Nintendo has yet to join the electronics industry audit program for conflict-free smelters nor has it required its suppliers to use only conflict-free smelters, the bare minimum requirement for taking action on conflict minerals."

Polygon has contacted Nintendo for comment.

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