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Furukawa, accused of modern slavery in Ecuador, denounces “interference” by the UN

Furukawa, accused of modern slavery in Ecuador, denounces “interference” by the UN

The company Furukawa, with Japanese capital, considered this Wednesday as an attempt to influence the Ecuadorian Justice the recent pronouncement of a group of rapporteurs of the UNwho urged that reparations be ratified for those who denounced alleged modern slavery in the abaca plantations, owned by this firm in Ecuador.

The company, dedicated to producing abaca (musa textilis), a plant similar to that of the banana that is harvested for its fiber for the textile industry, criticized the statement of the UN representatives, who urge Justice to “reparate the victims of contemporary forms of slavery in the abaca plantations of Ecuador.”

The statement, issued on April 29, indicated that “It is encouraging to see that Furukawa Plantations CA is being held accountable in two pioneering trials into allegations of bonded and forced labor” and spoke of victims who “suffered harrowing human rights violations for decades.”

For Furukawa’s representatives, this exhortation constitutes an incitement to condemn the company in two judicial proceedings where, to date, there has been no final ruling.

“This is an interference and the United Nations “They are violating external judicial independence and also another human right, which is the principle of innocence,” Furukawa’s lawyer, Pedro Jerves, told EFE.

“This statement obviously affects not only the Furukawa company, but also the country’s institutions”he added.

Company denounces invasion

According to the company, these complaints of serious human rights violations come from a group of former workers on farms that the company had leased to other people, whom it holds responsible, eventually, for the workers’ conditions.

The general manager of Furukawa, Adrián Herrera, assured EFE that the company has always complied with Ecuadorian regulations in those farms that it operated directly without a lease regime and that, since 2018 it decided to end the lease system, it hired the workers. of the tenants, so that it currently has 280 employees, all fully regularized.

Herrera pointed out that this occurs in all properties “except those that are invaded” by the group of complainants, who claim to have supposedly lived inside the haciendas in undignified and miserable conditions.

“We have more than 600 hectares invaded due to these conflicts with the former workers of the former tenants. At this moment they are exploiting those farms, and the company has lost millions of dollars by not having control of those farms. Of course, we don’t know what’s happening there.”said the general manager.

The legal representative also stated that they are subject to permanent inspection by the Ministry of Labor, “which is something absolutely out of the ordinary for a normal company”.

Constitutional jurisdiction over labor and civil issues

Herrera also criticized that the complainants, who assert that the lease contracts were invalid and that there was a hidden employment relationship, use constitutional justice to resolve a matter that falls under the jurisdiction of civil and labor judges, respectively.

The Constitutional Court has yet to rule on two constitutional actions that together involve more than 300 workers who allegedly worked on plantations owned by Furukawa.

In one of them, which covers 123 workers, after a second instance ruling, the company is identified as responsible for having violated rights such as access to work, adequate housing, water, identity, health and education, as well as prohibition of slavery and servitude of the people.

In June, a criminal trial for alleged human trafficking for labor exploitation is scheduled to begin in parallel, where Jerves trusts in a favorable ruling as there has been, according to the company, no coercion to work on its properties.

“Not every violation of labor rights, which I am not accepting is done or has been done, is slavery. That is to say, if you are not affiliated with the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) it does not mean that there is obviously human trafficking or slavery. “There has to be coercion.”Jerves emphasized.

“Evidently, people were not treated as servants under coercion, there was no servitude,” concluded the lawyer.

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Source: Gestion

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