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Ralph Lauren investigated in Canada over Uygur forced labour claims

  • The fashion giant is accused of having supply relationships with companies in China that use or benefit from use of forced labour from the minority group

  • The move follows the opening last month of similar probes of Nika Canada and mining firm Dynasty Gold

By Agence France-Presse

August 16, 2023

People walk past Ralph Lauren Corp’s flagship Polo store on Fifth Avenue in New York in April 2017. Photo: Reuters

Canada’s corporate watchdog on Tuesday launched an investigation of Ralph Lauren’s Canadian unit over allegations the fashion giant used forced labour from China’s Uygur minority.

The announcement follows similar probes of Nike Canada and Canadian mining firm Dynasty Gold, which the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (Core) began last month.

A coalition of 28 civil society organisations last year filed a complaint with the watchdog alleging “Ralph Lauren Canada has supply relationships with Chinese companies that use or benefit from the use of Uygur forced labour”. As part of our commitment to transparent processes, the CORE has released its Initial Assessment reports. This report details the complaint filed against Ralph Lauren Canada LP. about allegations of human rights abuses in their operations in China.

“I have decided that the Ralph Lauren complaint warrants an investigation,” ombudswoman Sheri Meyerhoffer said in a statement.

The brand’s US parent company, she noted, has disputed Canadian jurisdiction over the matter, arguing that its subsidiary “is not responsible for decision-making” and all of its operations are overseen by the company’s US headquarters.

Rights groups say more than 1 million Uygurs and other mostly Muslim minorities have been held in re-education camps in China’s western Xinjiang region, with a slew of abuses that include forced labour.

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 Uygurs as crimes against humanity.

Beijing denies the accusations, describing the facilities as vocational centres designed to curb extremism.


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