Bangladesh garment factory owners charged with murder over worker deaths

Bangladesh garment factory owners charged with murder over worker deaths

[JURIST] Sohel Rana and 40 other people were charged with murder on Monday over the 2013 collapse [LAT report] of a garment factory that killed more than 1,100 people. Bangladesh authorities [official website] brought charges against Rana [BBC profile], the building owner, as well as his parents and more than a dozen government officials for ignoring warnings that should have caused those involved to shut down the building. Rana and the other building owners forced workers into the building instead, despite protest due to significant cracks in the exterior that had developed the day before. The building, Rana Plaza, was originally built only five stories tall, intended as a shopping mall, but three additional stories were illegally added later to increase productivity. Initially charged with culpable homicide, the accused are now facing murder charges due to the seriousness of the accident. If convicted, they could face capital punishment. A court hearing is scheduled for late next month to decide how to proceed.

The accident drew attention [NYT report] to the plight of the poor in Bangladesh. In response, Bangladesh lawmakers approved new labor laws [JURIST report] in July 2013, which permitted unions greater power in the nation but created barriers to entry that some argue are impractically high. The changes came in an effort to update the Bangladeshi laws to meet international standards. Bangladesh has ratified most of the core International Labor Organization [official website] labor standards, including Convention No. 87 on freedom of association and Convention No. 98 on the right to organize and bargain collectively. According to the World Factbook, exports totaled $28.62 billion in 2013 and an estimated $31.2 billion in 2014.