Several major tech companies have been accused in a new lawsuit of being complicit in the death of up to thousands of African children who mine cobalt — a mineral that plays a key role in the production of lithium-ion batteries.
The five companies named as defendants are Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Dell, Microsoft and Tesla.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington, D.C. on Sunday by International Rights Advocates, a U.S.-based non-profit, and is on behalf of 14 families from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Reuters.
According to the lawsuit, the tech companies have been “knowingly benefiting from and aiding and abetting the cruel and brutal use of young children in Democratic Republic of Congo (‘DRC’) to mine cobalt,” CBS News reported. Multiple pictures of maimed children were included in the complaint, which said six of the 14 kids represented in the case were killed by collapsed tunnels, per Reuters. Others suffered crippling injuries, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit requests a trial by jury.
All five of the companies named in the suit did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Dell told CBS News in a statement that it is committed to the “responsible sourcing of minerals” and that it has never “knowingly sourced operations using any form of involuntary labor, fraudulent recruiting practices or child labor.”
Apple told CBS News it has the “strictest standards” for its suppliers. “If a refiner is unable or unwilling to meet our standards, they will be removed from our supply chain,” Apple added.
More than half of the world’s cobalt production stems from Congo, per Reuters. The lawsuit said children as young as six were expected to work up to six days a week mining and were only paid $1.50 per day.