Report: Bangladesh Issues Arrest Warrants Against 24 People Who Fled Rana Plaza Murder Charges

And a new NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights report concludes only 27 percent of garment factories in Bangladesh are part of the safety programs that formed after the 2013 tragedy.
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Chantal Fernandez
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And a new NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights report concludes only 27 percent of garment factories in Bangladesh are part of the safety programs that formed after the 2013 tragedy.
A mourner at Rana Plaza. Photo: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/Getty Images

A mourner at Rana Plaza. Photo: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/Getty Images

A court in Bangladesh issued arrest warrants on Monday against 24 people who have fled murder charges related to the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse. According to Reuters, the factory owner and primary defendant Sohel Rana is in jail and 16 others are awaiting trial on bail.

The trial process is just beginning, but it's been two years since 1,135 workers died outside Dhaka — the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. Back in May 2013, Bangladesh's Home Ministry first recommended Rana and others be charged with culpable homicide, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, it is unclear how much reform has actually taken place in the country's massive garment industry. On Thursday, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights released a report stating that only 27 percent of the factories in Bangladesh are part of the two safety programs that formed after the tragedy: The Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Out of 3,425 inspections that both programs and the International Labor Organization have conducted, only eight factories have passed final inspection.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) held a press conference on Sunday to denounce the NYU report, according to the Dhaka Tribune, because the data does not distinguish between factories that produce exports and local manufacturers. But NYU's research shows a widespread subcontracting system and argues that the Bangladesh garment sector is therefore almost twice the previously reported size; these indirect sourcing factories reportedly avoid regulations, have very little margins and violate workers' safety. In response, the BGMEA told the Dhaka Tribune that subcontracts within association member factories are approved by its foreign brand clients, and "[it] will not take the responsibility of the non-member factories."