Can we ensure nowadays that the clothes we wear are free from slave labour, that they are produced in compliance with proper human rights and environmental standards?

As yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of Rana Plaza, ECCJ joined a TV debate at the European Parliament to discuss the implications of the tragedy that meant the death of over 1.100 garment workers in Bangladesh and left over 2.000 people injured.

The debate included Lola Sánchez Caldentey, member of the European Parliament (EP) (GUE/NGL), Sergi Corbalán, from FairTrade Advocacy office, and Mauricio Lazala, from the BHRRC.

The discussion addressed the lack of response from the European Commission to the EP Report on the Garment Textile (2017). The Report, where Lola Sánchez was rapporteur and which was approved by over 80% of the EP, called on the European Commission to adopt an EU legal framework that creates human rights due diligence obligations for companies in the garment sector.

Speakers agreed that voluntary measures alone are insufficient to address the challenges posed by global value chains, especially in highly complex sectors such as the garment industry. The complexity of these value chains is exploited by companies to hide behind multiple tiers of subcontractors and suppliers, and thus avoid responsibility for those human rights abuses that can be linked to these business operations.

Women are especially affected by abuses in garment supply chains, as they represent the majority of workers in this sector, and they must suffer multiple forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment and endemic discrimination.

Although human rights are especially appalling in sectors such as the garment industry, gross and day-to-day forms of human rights violations take place in all sectors and industries. For this reason, ECCJ is calling for an overarching EU legal framework that establishes human rights due diligence obligations to make companies respect human rights inside and outside the EU borders, and to improve access to justice for victims.

You can watch the full debate (in Spanish) in this link.