The collapse of Rana Plaza sent tremors across the world and once again made people aware of the exploitive nature of globalised industry of which the garment sector is a major part. As producers of apparels for world’s renowned brands, Bangladeshi workers have long been deprived of their rightful wages as well as an environment where safety and security would be ensured. On the 6th anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse, Rashad Ahamad spoke to advocate Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, labour leader Taslima Akhter and injured victim Yanoor Akhter
Garment Sramik Odhikar Andolan leader and Bangladesh Textile Garment Workers Federation president Mahbubur Rahman Ismail said that a special tribunal was a must to complete the trials of such systematic killing of mass people.
He said that the regular court system was designed for murder of only a few. But an incident that killed a huge number of people should be tried under a special court.
Not only Rana Plaza, but also other deadly incidents, significant for the nation, should be tried under the special court for speedy trial, he argued.
He said the well-known proverb still holds true: ‘Justice delayed means justice denied.’
Trial of any such massive death incidents poses difficulty, it would take decades in any normal judicial court since many witnesses are involved and many documents have been lost or destroyed.
‘If the government is really willing to establish justice for Rana Plaza victims, it should form a special tribunal soon,’ said that advocate and trade union leader.
In case of Rana Plaza, which killed over 1,100 workers, mostly young female, the families of the deceased and the survivors were being denied justice as the authorities were yet to record the testimonies of the witnesses.
At least 14 cases, including 11 cases with the Labour Court, were filed following Rana Plaza, but all the cases remained stalled.
Although Sohel Rana (the building owner) and 40 others were charged on July 18, 2016 in a case filed over murder of the workers, none of the 594 prosecution witnesses were examined yet.
He said that when justice is denied it encourages perpetrators to continue with their crimes.
Government may introduce a system of affidavit from all stakeholders of the garment supply chain so that a factory building was safe and workers safety and rights were protected.
He said that the workers were not given legal compensation till today after six years of the incident. Now, the owner and government were trying to pass the financial aid money as compensation, he said.
‘Compensation is a legal term, not a matter of kindness,’ he said.
He added that the role of the government in most of the cases was like that of the owners — the result is that the workers are deprived.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from In Focus