October 25, 2023
The International Imaging Technology Council (Int’l ITC), the North American trade association for imaging supplies remanufacturers, and its Standardised Test Methods Committee (STMC) announced that they have declined to renew STMC certification for Ninestar Corporation due to its recent association with forced labour.
“The Int’l ITC Board of Directors, along with the STMC Chairman, considered the issue carefully, but in the end, the decision was unanimous,” said Executive Director Tricia Judge. “The ethical issues just demanded that we not put our quality seal of approval on products made by slave labour.”
The U.S. government has identified a problem in China with state-sponsored forced labour; according to a recent court filing by the U.S., “Over the last four years, the [PRC] . . . has carried out a mass detention and political indoctrination campaign against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in . . . Xinjiang . . . , a large region in western China…Authorities use threats of physical violence, forcible drug intake, physical and sexual abuse, and torture to force detainees to work in adjacent or off-site factories or worksites producing [many different products].”
In response, the U.S. government has enacted the Uyghurs Forced Labor Protection Act (UFLPA) and created a consortium of government agencies called the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF), led by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enforce the UFLPA.
The FLETF identified Ninestar as violating the UFLPA by engaging in this practice and filed a very lengthy administrative record that determined as follows: “The information in (the administrative record) demonstrates that Ninestar has worked with the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region through a third-party agency to recruit, transport, transfer, and receive Uyghur labourers out of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to work in its manufacturing facilities in the city of Zhuhai, located in the Guangdong Province.
“Accordingly, on May 15, 2023, FLETF Member Agencies voted unanimously to add Ninestar Corporation to the Entity List described in Section 2(d)(2)(B)(ii) of the UFLPA.” On June 9, the DHS announced the nationwide importation ban on products made by Ninestar and eight of its subsidiaries.
Int’l ITC said it is required to abide by the same bylaws that apply to its members and must, therefore, “Prioritise the safety and well-being of all individuals affected by [Int’l’ ITC’s] actions” and “Prioritise the welfare of vulnerable populations.”
Int’l ITC concluded by saying: “Thus, to the extent STMC certification of Ninestar would facilitate enhanced sales of products identified by the United States as likely to be produced by slave labour, the Int’l ITC’s Bylaws compel it to refrain from renewing Ninestar’s STMC certification.”
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