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29 Jul 2021

Clean Clothes Campaign

Bangladesh: Labour activist writes open letter to European Commissioners on protections against violations and access to justice

"Open letter to European Commissioners: Kalpona Akter calls for strong protections against violations and access to justice for victims", 29 July 2021

Bangladeshi human rights defender Kalpona Akter wrote an open letter to European Commissioners Didier Reynders and Thierry Breton who are jointly working on a legislative proposal on Sustainable Corporate Governance.

As a former child worker and a blacklisted union organizer who now leads the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, Kalpona Akter is certain: “Only a law that addresses the root causes of violations and has accountability at its core will truly transform and protect people’s lives.” She therefore calls on the Commissioners to introduce strong rules that also give victims of corporate abuses access to justice in European courts.

Kalpona Akter vividly remembers the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. When the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh came crushing down in 2013, over 1,100 garment workers lost their lives, and many others were injured for life.

...She calls for the new rules to include mandatory value chain transparency so that everyone can easily trace a company’s production sites, or a T-shirt’s origin.

...As the European Commission is getting closer to proposing legislation that will include mandatory human rights due diligence, Kalpona Akter points out: “New rules will not make a difference for those who died in unsafe factories. But if you make sure that every company has to identify, prevent and mitigate human right risks in its whole value chain, including the company’s own purchasing practices, you can help save and improve many millions of lives in the future.”

The letter was sent to the commissioners earlier this month and is made public today.