[JURIST] Bangladeshi workers gathered Sunday on the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory disaster to demand justice for the incident that took the lives of more than 1,000 people. A court in Dhaka ruled that 41 defendants can be tried for murder for the April 2013 garment factory collapse. Initially charged with culpable homicide, the defendants were charged with murder [JURIST report] upon further investigation of their conduct. Investigators found that the defendants illegally added floors to the original five-story Rana Complex to compete in Bangladesh’s highly profitable garment exporting industry. Prior to the building’s collapse, the staff allegedly forced workers to stay in the unstable establishment despite concerns that the structure was visibly cracking. The building owner, Sohel Rana, is now being held in jail [AP report] while 16 others are free on bail. Workers protested on Sunday at the grave site where hundreds were buried [AFP report], demanding justice for the deceased.
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh in September lifted a ban [JURIST report] on the release of a documentary film that depicted the rescue of a woman 17 days after the 2013 garment factory disaster. 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 [website], exports totaled USD $28.62 billion in 2013 and an estimated $31.2 billion in 2014.