Karachi fire – Initial payments made to victims

JANUARY 2013

UPDATE ON COMPENSATION FOR THE VICTIMS OF KARACHI

After much campaigning, finally in January 2013 KIK signed an agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders. The initial payment is to be used to compensate the families of those victims who have not received any government compensation as the bodies have not been identified due to the severity of the burns and the decomposition of the bodies. “KIK also expressed a willingness to compensate workers who faced severe injuries in the fire leading to disability and loss of future employment. The remaining workers will be assisted in the next step after a compensation amount is agreed upon through a consensus between all stakeholders including employers and other international companies,” added Karamat Ali.

Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at CCC: ‘We welcome this agreement and look forward to having the full compensations and relief package, which we estimate will be at least EUR 20 million, to be negotiated soon. We continue our campaign towards other international stakeholders, notably auditing organisations SAI and Rina, to also take their responsibility and pay their share of the compensation needed.”

The National Trade Union Federation in Karachi state that although the high death toll at Ali Enterprises had led to extensive coverage of the fire, this is not an isolated incident but a regular occurrence in an industry that is poorly regulated and largely non unionised.

The fire  follows a pattern of negligence occurring not just in Pakistan but throughout the garment industry. Brand and retailers must therefore take more action to address the root causes of such disasters. Brands and retailers need to take responsibility for improving conditions, enforcing international labour standards and need to work with worker representatives to address safety issues in every country they source from if future tragedies are to be avoided.

Remembering Aminul Islam – A year after his murder

Aminu One Yearl

April 4th 2013 marks the year anniversary of Aminul Islam.

Last year Aminul Islam was brutally tortured and murdered as a direct result of his work to improve working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers.

This brutal torture and murder sent a direct message to those working in the industry of what their future would hold if they attempt to demand their basic human rights and challenge the unjust system.

The recent spate of factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan is a clear reminder of the daily struggle of garment works who make clothes for all our high street retailers.

Last year Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland launched an Urgent Appeal calling on the Bangladeshi government to properly investigate his murder, this was never done.

A year on, we remember the plight of Aminul whose life ended so tragically as a direct result of his humanity and good work. We continue to call on the Bangladesh Government to fully investigate his death and ensure the safety of trade unionists and garment workers.

Read more about his case on our website here, and here is a link to an article by the Solidarity Center of American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 

Conviction of Thai activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk greeted with international condemnation.

somyot image-by-Karnt ThassanaphakImage by Karnt Thassanaphak

 

On January 22nd 2013 the Bangkok Criminal Court convicted Somyot Prueksakasemsuk on 2 counts of Article 112 of the Criminal Code (the lèse-majesté law*) and sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment.

Clean Clothes Campaign, together with the Free Somyot Campaign and the Thai Labour Campaign strongly deplores the conviction of human rights defender and magazine editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.

Somyot is a prisoner of conscience. He was convicted solely for the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and opinion and the right to participate in public life. He has been in detention since April 2011 for the publication of two articles deemed insulting to the monarch. Today’s verdict is a serious blow to the rule of law in Thailand and will further contribute to self-censorship.

The verdict is a violation of international human rights law, in particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified. Currently, Thailand is running for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. CCC recalls that the UN Charter urges the General Assembly, where the election takes place, to consider candidates’ contribution “to the maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization,” (article 23.1 on criteria of membership of UNSC) including “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms” (article 1.3 of the UN Charter).

If Thailand is to be in compliance with its binding international legal obligations to respect and protect basic rights, this unjust verdict against Somyot should be promptly overturned on appeal. Additionally, while the appeal is being considered, his constitutional right to provisional release should be upheld so that he could reunite with his family, better attend to his medical conditions, and adequately prepare for his defense.

One political prisoner is one too many. CCC calls on Thailand to free Somyot and all other persons detained on politically-motivated charges and end all forms of harassment against them.

*Thailand’s lèse-majesté law prohibits any word or act, which “defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent”.
This law places the country in contravention of its international legal obligations to uphold international standards of freedom of expression.