The experts recommended making human rights due diligence mandatory rather than voluntary in Bangladesh’s RMG sector.
They added that the business should be required to adhere to regulations on the environment, workplace safety, and forced labor.
They were addressed on Thursday in a plenary session titled “Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence” at the fourth edition of the Sustainable Apparel Forum 2023 at the capital.
A partnership on this is also advocated with the government, NGOs, media, civil society, and the commercial sector.
Leena Khan, the labor attaché for the US Embassy in Bangladesh, stated at the plenary that she would advise the Bangladeshi government to reform the Bangladesh Labor Act to create an environment that would be favorable to labor protections.
She also urged amending the export processing zone labor act and, more crucially, ensuring that trade unions can register without fear of punishment or evaluation.
Substantial protection is also required, she continued, in order to convince the world community that Bangladesh can be a real leader in terms of robust labor rights.
In his speech, Faiyaz Murshid Kazi, Director General (Economic Affairs Wing), Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Bangladesh is definitely working with partners on a lot of these issues.
“Human rights are the main part of our DNA and we should not feel any way defensive or apologetic about our human rights and performance. That should clear message,” he added.
He also said that they are ready to work on all kinds of legal and policy reforms.
He also said that in 2016, the US government decided to restore GSP facilities for Myanmar, and withdraw all kinds of sanctions against Myanmar, and in 2017, the country committed generally accepted genocide.
“But since 2013, the US government has withdrawn GSP from Bangladesh. We do not even qualify for treatment that is given to a country that has committed textbook examples of ethnic cleansing and genocide,” he added.
So, this a kind of thing that does not really help get the conversation forward.”
Bernard Spanier, deputy head of delegation, EU Delegation to Bangladesh, and Jasmin Malik Chua, sourcing and labor editor, Sourcing Journal also spoke at the event while Mohamad Anis Agung Nugroho, program manager, Better Work Bangladesh, moderated the event.
Syed Fazle Niaz, team leader of the ILO Better Work Programme, presented the keynote.