Chocolate, deforestation and slavery — they seem to be buzz words at Treehugger right now. Last week we posted on a new campaign to end modern slavery, and on the link between forced labor and deforestation. This week we posted on a fair-trade chocolate project aiming to give the Kitchwa of Ecuador a sustainable alternative to logging. Now we've come across the story of Tony van de Keuken, a Dutch journalist, and self-confessed chocaholic, who is trying to prosecute himself for knowingly receiving goods that were produced through slave labor. The Dutch law states as follows:
"Whoever receives goods...while knowing at the time he receives them or when they are made available to him...that it concerns unlawfully obtained goods is guilty of wilfully receiving...unlawfully obtained goods and shall be punished by a term in prison of maximum four years or a Category Five fine."
According to Tony's logic, the fact that he knew about the chocolate industry's abusive labor practices, and yet continued to eat chocolate anyway, makes him a criminal. It looks like the courts may well agree with him. The story doesn't end here though. Not only is Tony trying to raise awareness through the legal system, he has since set up his own slave-free chocolate company — Tony's Chocolonely. And what do the big players in the chocolate industry have to say about all this? Here's the response from a Nestle spokesperson:
"Okay, call it slavery, but you know they're dirt poor down there anyway..."
Hmm, now remind us again who is up in court