HRW urges govt to release reports

Staff Correspondent

New-York based human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch, has urged the government to make public the findings of garment factory safety inspections carried out after the April 2013 Rana Plaza catastrophe that killed and injured several thousand workers.
HRW made the urge in a posting in its official website on Tuesday and said that Bangladesh government and retailers have largely failed to release the findings.
In the posting, the rights organisation said that the reports should be published both in Bangla and in English so that they are accessible to workers to take informed decisions about whether it is safe to enter their factories.
‘Efforts to make the Bangladesh garment industry safer and protect the rights of workers will not succeed unless details of all factory inspections are made public,’ said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director of HRW.
More than 1,100 workers died after they were persuaded, and in some cases forced, by their employers to return to Rana Plaza a day after they evacuated the factory building because large cracks appeared on the building’s walls.
As a result of the tragedy, Bangladesh government and western retailers are engaged in inspecting more of than 3,500 garment factories for structural integrity and fire and electrical safety,
the positing said.
The posting said that groups conducting inspections have committed to releasing details of their findings, but more than one year after the deadly disaster, reports on fewer than 40 factories have been published so far by non-governmental groups.
But the government has published no information on the inspections, it said.
It said that the government was responsible for inspecting about 1,500 factories, many of which do sub-contracting work and some in shared buildings and were believed by experts to be at risk.
The government and ILO have set up a website to publish the inspection data, but to date nothing has been published, it said, adding that a spokesman for the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments said no decision had yet been taken on when the results of the investigations by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology would be made public.
A group of 26 North American retailers, who work together as members of the Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, is inspecting about 680 factories and has recently published the details of fire, structural, and electrical safety inspections of 28 factories that all required remedial work.
A second body, formed by 175 mainly European retailers, is currently inspecting 1,545 factories and made public details of ten factory inspections that all had safety problems.
‘Ensuring workers know their rights, and that they can refuse to work in an unsafe building, would be the most fitting tribute to the sacrifices made by workers at Rana Plaza,’ Robertson said. ‘Workers safety will benefit if the Bangladesh garment industry becomes more open and transparent.’

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