” The Darker Side of Chocolate Unmasking the Slave Trade”

#AceHistoryNews says The Dark Side of Chocolate is a 2010 documentary film about the exploitation and slave trading of African children to harvest chocolate still occurring nearly ten years after the cocoa industry pledged to end it.

Dark Side of ChocolateThe Dark Side of Chocolate was produced by Danish journalist Miki Mistrati who investigated child labor and trafficked children in chocolate production. It is filmed by U. Roberto Romano.

Dark Side of Chocolate DocumentaryThe filming started in Germany, where Mistrati asked vendors where their chocolate comes from. They then flew to Mali, where many of the children are from. Next, they explored the Ivory Coast where the cocoa plantations are located. The film ends in Switzerland where both the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Nestle headquarters are located.

Much of the footage in this documentary is recorded using a secret camera located in a bag Mistrati carried with him.

The documentary was released in 2010, first in Denmark, and later in Sweden, Ireland, Belgium, and Norway.

Harken Engel ProtocolIn 2001, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association formed an action plan entitled the Harkin-Engel Protocol that would aim to end the worse forms of child trafficking and slave labour. However, child trafficking still continued in countries in West Africa. Authorities and companies denied it happened. Due to this conflicting outlook, the film-makers went undercover to discover the truth. The film starts with its two film-makers investigating independently by journeying to the western coast of Africa to the country of Mali, the country where children were rumoured to be smuggled from and then transported to the Ivory Coast. The team of journalists aimed to investigate human trafficking and child labour in  the Ivory Coast and its effects on the worldwide chocolate industry.

The documentary starts in Cologne, Germany where Mistrati asked each vendor at a gathering of chocolate makers where their chocolate is imported from. Their responses lead to the conclusion that almost all chocolate is imported from somewhere in Africa. Their detective work lead them to find that people in Mali were trafficking children at bus stations by bribing them with work and money, or by kidnapping them from villages. After toward, they are taken to towns near the border such as Zegoua, where another trafficker transports the children over the border on a dirt-bike. Then they are left with a third trafficker who sells the children to plantations.

The children, ranging in age from 10 to 15, are forced to do hard labour, physically abused, and paid poor wages, or none at all. Most of them stay with the plantation until they die, never seeing their families again. Child labour and trafficking is illegal according to the Harkin-Engel Protocol, an agreement that was signed by all major chocolate companies promising not to harvest their cocoa beans through means of child workers

When confronted with this issue, the corporate representatives of some of these companies denied all rumours of child labour and trafficking, but the investigations of the film-makers proved brought to light the continued abuse of children on cocoa plantations.

The completed documentary was shown to the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Switzerland, whose aim is to stop child labor in the chocolate industry.

Nestle and Child SlaveryNestle and other companies declined an invitation to watch the film and to answer questions. In response, Mistrati set up a large screen next to Nestle’s headquarters in Switzerland, forcing employees to catch a glimpse of child labour in the cocoa industry.

As a closing edit window to the film, during the credits roll, we see the local police arrive, to ask why they are showing the film outside Nestle’s Head Office in Vevey, Switzerland. The police ask if the film is ‘for or against Nestle’. The reply is “It is not against”. After checking their documents the police officer says “we turn it off”, referring to showing the film.

Clearly, almost as soon as they started showing the film, Nestle’s executive rang the police who typically, outside of an emergency, can take 20–40 minutes to turn up. The implication being that Nestle, if not the whole chocolate industry, is hyper sensitive to this kind of damning publicity and will use authority to suppress anything which might demoralise its workforce or stigmatize its product.

“Darker Side of Chocolate” 

“Film Write Up” 

“Guy-Andre’ Kieffer” 


A film by Miki Mistrati & U. Roberto Romano

Journalist: Svante Karlshoej Ipsen

Script: Miki Mistrati

Editor: Andreas Birch Eriksen

Research: Ditte Nielsen, Svante Karlshoej Ipsen, Miki Mistrati, U. Roberto Romano, Youchaou Traor, Assoumane Maiga

Photographers: Henrik Bohn Ipsen, U. Roberto Romano, Niels Thastum

Assistant Photographer: Miki Mistrati

Color Grade: Andreas Birch Eriksen

Sound: Bobby Hess, Asser Borgen

Sound Assistant: Ingeborg Holten

Composer: Jonas Colstrup

Graphics: Benny Box

Narrator: David Bateson

Production Managers: Mathilde Hvid Lippmann, Joel Norup Soegaard

Production Assistants: Markus Ramlau, Helene Juncher Jensen, Rasmus Odgaard

Technical Assistance: Jonas Abildgaard

Translations: Helene Juncher Jensen, Tolkegruppen Koebenhavn, Prestige Network Ltd.

Webdesign: Kalle Graverholt

Special Thanks To: Osange Silou-Kieffer, Bernard Kieffer, Fabian Abitbol, ProShop Europe

Executive Producer: Helle Faber

Produced in Corporation With: Mette Hoffmann (DR2) & Barbara Biemann (NDR)

Produced With the Support From: Danida, Media, Pools and Lottery Funds of the Ministry of Education, Monique Dobretz (TSR), Axel Arno (SVT), Arto Hyvonen (YLE), ERR Jaspreet Singh Syan
By Bastard Film & TV (located in Copenhagen, Denmark


  1. Jump up^ COLUMN: Chocolate industry built on blood and sweat of child slaves, Lonnie Allen, Central Michigan Life, 18 October 2010 (retrieved 29 October 2010)
  2. Jump up^ Film Shows Cocoa Child Slavery Continues, Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, Fair Trade Blog, Global Exchange, 4 August 2010 (retrieved 29 October 2010)
  3. Jump up^ AFRICA: The Dark Side of Chocolate, Kate McMahon, CorpWatch, 25 October 2005 (retrieved 29 October 2012)
  4. Jump up^ The dark side of chocolate: Are candy companies doing enough to end child labor?, Sara Peck, “News Review”, 05 August 2010 (retrieved 29 October 2012)
  5. Jump up^ Ghana Consultative Meeting 2010, Tulane University, 11 June 2010 (retrieved 6 November 2012)
  6. Jump up^ The dark side of chocolate: Are candy companies doing enough to end child labor?, Sara Peck, “News Review”, 05 August 2010 (retrieved 29 October 2012)
  7. Jump up^ Feature film exposes the dark side of treat, Jenny Jelen, Northern Life, 19 October 2010 (retrieved 20 October 2010)
  8. Jump up^ The Dark Side of Chocolate Official Website
  9. Jump up^ Chocolate and Slavery, Samlanchith Chanthavong, “Chocolate and Slavery”, 2002
  10. Jump up^ The Dark Side of Chocolate on CultureUnplugged
  11. Jump up^ The dark side of chocolate: Are candy companies doing enough to end child labor?, Sara Peck, “News Review”, 05 August 2010 (retrieved 29 October 2012)
  12. Jump up^ Miki Mistrati – da.wikipedia.com
  13. Jump up^ Miki Mistrati – LinkedIn
  14. Jump up^ Map: Prevalence of Slavery in Western Africa
  15. Jump up^ Fair Trade Advocacy
  16. Jump up^ Global Cocoa Project
  17. Jump up^ The Dark Side of Chocolate Official Website
  18. Jump up^ Contact Database

External links[edit]

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