FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
BALTIMORE, MD, Oct. 6, 2011—A coalition of humanitarian agencies, including Catholic Relief Services, is urging senators to support a bipartisan effort led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. John Boozman and Sen. Christopher Coons urging the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to enact regulations requiring companies to report whether they obtain any of four minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The war raging in the eastern DRC, the deadliest since World War II, has been funded and fueled by the trade in tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, which are commonly used in products such as cell phones, laptop computers and jewelry. Since 1998, the violence in the eastern DRC has left millions of people dead and countless others victims of an epidemic of sexual and gender-based violence. Child labor and modern forms of slavery are also prevalent in the mines.
A provision of the Dodd-Frank Act, Wall Street reform legislation passed by Congress last year, requires publicly traded companies that use these minerals to file annual reports with the SEC certifying whether those minerals originated in Congo or neighboring countries. Corporations that use these four minerals will be required to conduct regular audits to ensure that they are not contributing directly or indirectly to the armed conflict in the region.
Final regulations detailing these reporting requirements were to have been issued by the SEC in April, but have been delayed. Senators Boxer, Boozman and Coons are urging SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro to issue the final regulations without further delay. They have also issued a call to their Senate colleagues to join them in this effort.
The coalition of humanitarian organizations called the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act “a watershed moment for the DRC and for those who fall victim to the terrible human rights abuses committed there.”
“If the SEC does not issue strong regulations for the bill soon with no phase-in or delays in reporting requirements for companies to implement their obligations under the law, these reforms will be severely undercut and a major driver of change in the DRC will come to a halt,” the coalition letter said.
In addition to CRS, the coalition includes the Enough Project, World Vision, Amnesty International, Global Witness, Free the Slaves, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable and Jewish World Watch.
# # #
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.