Criminal Proceedings against Ali Enterprises in Pakistan
On 9 May 2014 ECCHR submitted an Amicus Curiae Brief to the High Court of Sindh in Karachi calling for investigations to be broadened in the criminal proceedings against Ali Enterprises, the owner of the destroyed Karachi clothing factory. In the submission ECCHR calls on the court to expand the scope of the proceedings and examine the role played by European companies KiK and RINA.
“There is evidence to suggest that KiK and RINA contributed to the fire through their failure to take action on safety standards”, said Miriam Saage-Maaß from ECCHR. “Under international human rights norms, the Pakistani authorities have a duty to examine the evidence and, where appropriate, to hold these international companies to account”
The Ali Enterprise textile factory in the industrial district of Baldia Town in Karachi burned to the ground on 11 September 2012. Bars on the windows as well as obstructed and locked emergency exits meant that factory workers were unable to escape the blaze in time. Over 280 employees lost their lives and hundreds were injured. The disaster represents the most devastating fire to occur to date at a Pakistani factory.
At least 70% of the textiles produced at the factory were sold to German discount store KIK, according to the retailer’s own information. Just a few weeks before the fire, Italian company RINA had issued the factory with an SA 8000 certificate, which is supposed to act as a guarantee of safety and other workplace standards.
The Italian certification firm RINA has to date not demonstrated any interest in participating in a compensation scheme. The distribution of the compensatory funds offered by KIK is being overseen by an independent commission appointed by the High Court of Sindh.
ECCHR considers it essential that a comprehensive investigation is undertaken into the circumstances of the fire and the role of the international companies involved. For this reason we are lending our support to the legal proceedings underway in Pakistan with the Amicus Curiae Brief.