To counter injustice with legal interventions – this is the aim and daily work of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
ECCHR is an independent, non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. It was founded in 2007 by Wolfgang Kaleck and other international human rights lawyers to protect and enforce the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other human rights declarations and national constitutions, through legal means.
Together with those affected and partners worldwide, ECCHR uses legal means to end impunity for those responsible for torture, war crimes, sexual and gender-based violence, corporate exploitation and fortressed borders.
"10 years after Rana Plaza, there are still factories in Bangladesh producing clothes for international corporations like Amazon, IKEA or Tom Tailor, where there are hardly any safety checks. We can no longer accept this," says Amirul Haque Amin, president and co-founder of the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF).
FEMNET, ECCHR and NGWF file the first complaint on the basis of the Supply Chain Act which came into force in January 2023 with the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control. The complaint is based on a research conducted in Bangladesh in March 2023 by the trade union National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), which identified safety deficiencies such as a lack of inspections, but also other labor rights violations such as a lack of freedom of association.
This is despite the fact that an effective mechanism for improving workplace safety, the Bangladesh Accord, has been in place since 2013. The "Accord for Building Safety and Fire Protection in Bangladesh" was a response to the collapse of the Rana Plaza building exactly 10 years ago, when 1,138 people died while sewing for international brands. Yet to date, leading companies that have supplier factories in Bangladesh have not signed the agreement or its successors. "Now is the time to use the German law to finally oblige such companies that do not want to voluntarily take responsibility for the people in their supply chains to do so," says Dr. Gisela Burckhardt, Chair of the Board of FEMNET and expert on human rights in the garment industry.
Together with ECCHR, which uses legal means to combat human rights violations by companies, FEMNET is supporting the Bangladeshi trade union NGWF in its complaint. "We are convinced that the failure to sign is a violation of corporate due diligence," said Dr. Miriam Saage-Maaß, lawyer and Legal Director of ECCHR. "It is now up to the competent German authority, the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control, to consider the complaint. We very much hope that the authority will ensure that German companies' business practices will not contribute to deadly disasters like Rana Plaza in the future."
10 Years after the devastating collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory, in which more than 1,100 people died, numerous companies have yet to sign either the Bangladesh Accord (the accord on building and fire safety in Bangladesh) or its successor, the International Accord. The accord is considered to be the only functional mechanism for the improvement of workplace safety worldwide. Based on the German Supply Chain Act, which came into force in January 2023, employees filed the first complaint with the German Federal Office of Economic Affairs and Export Control in April 2024.
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