No more delay in justice for Tazreen fire victims

In yet another manifestation of the government’s lack of sincerity in ensuring justice for victims of the Tazreen fire that left some 113 people dead and 100 others disabled on November 24, 2012, trials of the people reportedly responsible for the fire are yet to begin. As New Age reported on Sunday quoting the court’s additional public prosecutor, they could not complete even the pre-trial proceedings of the case as the police report on the execution of the arrest order issued on December 31, 2013 in the case was still unavailable. It is worth noting that a judicial magistrate’s court in Dhaka took cognisance then of the charges against 13 people, including the managing director and chairperson of the factory, filed by the police in the case. Moreover, of the 13 accused, nine are now either in jail or at large on bail. Against the backdrop, the court ordered the police to arrest the remaining four. Although the Dhaka police superintendent claimed to have personally monitored the execution of the order, one could be forgiven to describe the failure to execute the order even in 11 months as mysterious.
One can recall here that the police evidently delayed much in completing the investigation of the case lodged soon after the incident. Additionally, they arrested the factory owners after footdragging for months and that too in the face of unabated public demand. Allegations were rife that even a number of ministers helped the owners, at least by influencing the prosecution lawyers not to seriously oppose the petition, in the latter’s obtaining bail. One can also refer in this connection to the reported influence of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association on successive governments, including the incumbents, since the inception of the sector. The influence is so huge that it has so far off and on made the government declare various incentives, financial and otherwise, sometimes on lame excuses, for the sector. Besides, allegedly mainly for this, almost all owners accused of negligence of worker ’ safety, something that resulted in scores of deadly factory fires and building collapses, have been able to evade any legal actions thus far.
The government needs to realise that its any failure to make a difference this time will not only be a double shock for the victims but may help tarnish further the global image of the sector, crucial for export earning and easing unemployment in particular. Rights bodies also need to keep raising their voice over the issue.

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