CCA student campaign promotes international human rights

Student photo
CCA students started a campaign to promote human rights.

A group of Canyon Crest Academy juniors started the Fair Trade Canyon Crest Academy Campaign to advocate for changes in the Alien Tort Statute, which grants federal courts power over certain lawsuits filed by citizens of other countries over alleged violations of international law.

They started their campaign after the U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8 to 1 vote earlier this year, threw out a lawsuit alleging that American companies Nestle and Cargill aid and abet child slavery by purchasing cocoa from the Ivory Coast. Six people from Mali who filed the suit said they were trafficked into Ivory Coast as child slaves for cocoa production.

The court ruled that there needed to be “more domestic conduct than general corporate activity common to most corporations” for the case to prevail under the Alien Tort Statute.

“Nearly all the conduct they allege aided and abetted forced labor — providing training, equipment, and cash to overseas farmers — occurred in Ivory Coast,” read the court’s opinion. “Pleading general corporate activity, like ‘mere corporate presence,’ ... does not draw a sufficient connection between the cause of action respondents seek and domestic conduct.”

But the CCA students said they think there should be more stringent standards for accountability. They have been thinking about proposed amendments to the Alien Tort Statute that would allow foreign nationals to have a wider latitude to use the courts as a defense against alleged human rights abuses.

They also recently met with a staffer from the office of U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

“Knowing there’s such blanket human rights abuses occurring in other parts of the world, it really means a lot to us to try to combat these human rights abuses in any way possible,” Ilana Krelstein said. “Especially in the current environment as high school students, we sometimes feel powerless.”

“And generally,” added Jumari Querimit, “I think the fair trade campaign and the club we have here at school are great sources for educating other students, staff members and our community.”

Other members of their group include Kloё Godard, Joyce Lin, Katherine Zhao, Iris Carnahan and Sarah Strasberg.

“We are not old enough to vote, but we are old enough to be consumers and to think about what we’re purchasing,” Sarah said. “I think this campaign is a great way for us to show our voices and what we believe in, not through voting but through other forms of advocacy.”