A call for independent investigation following Ashulia tragedy

Press release

Paris, Dhaka, 28 November 2012. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Odhikar, its member organisation in Bangladesh, are extremely dismayed at the recent tragedy at Tazreen Fashions, a ready-made garment factory in Ashulia, Bangladesh, in which at least 112 people – all factory workers - lost their lives while hundreds were injured.

FIDH and Odhikar express their sincere condolences to the families of the victims. This event highlights once again unsafe working conditions for workers in the leading exporting industry of Bangladesh.

FIDH supports Odhikar’s call for an independent investigation into this tragic event to establish responsibilities and sanction those who have been negligent, and for adequate compensation of the victims and their families. A report should be made public and effective measures should be put in place to ensure non-repetition such massive tragedy.

Incidents of fires with deadly consequences in garment factories in Bangladesh have been routinely reported, and a culture of impunity prevails in this sector.

This accident in a factory producing for international brands reveals that social auditing by international brands is not sufficient to address these issues. International brands should seriously and collectively demand and ensure from their suppliers to take all required measures to avoid such tragedies in the future. Brands are responsible for and should put the security and fundamental labour rights of workers at the forefront of their sourcing practices. FIDH reminds that supplying companies have an obligation to ensure safe and fair working conditions that comply with internationally recognised human rights, including freedom of association of workers, a core element to ensure improvement in the working conditions in Bangladesh.

In the past years FIDH has constantly recommended international buyers to go further than social auditing in order to uphold labour rights. In particular purchasing practices should be adapted so as to help preventing labour rights violations.

FIDH and Odhikar call on the government of Bangladesh to guarantee the safety of its work force by establishing an effective and impartial labour inspection system for industrial buildings and providing it with the resources needed to fulfil its assignment; and to guarantee freedom of association and right to collective bargaining in accordance with ILO fundamental conventions ratified by Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has become the second largest ready-made garment exporter in the world, FIDH reminds that economic development cannot be pursued at the expense of basic workers’ rights.

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