Bangladesh must ensure fire safety, say global firms

Updated 01 December 2012
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Bangladesh must ensure fire safety, say global firms

DHAKA: International garment firms have demanded fast action to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi textile workers, a week after a plant fire killed more than 100 people, a senior industry official in the country said yesterday.
Mohammad Shafiul Islam, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said a 19-member buyers’ forum was blunt in suggesting it would “lose confidence” in the country’s industry unless change came fast.
Rights groups have called on big-brand firms to sign up for a fire safety program.
Islam quoted company officials at the meeting on Friday as saying that while some factories in Bangladesh observed safety regulations, “many of them do not comply with these.”
“Now we want to see proper action toward implementation of compliance issues, instead of commitments,” he quoted Roger Hubert, Vice-President of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Ltd. , as telling the meeting.
Hubert, he said, pledged financial support for the families of those who died in the fire. Representatives of Li & Fung and other companies present were unavailable for comment.
Last week’s fire at Tazreen Fashions, Bangladesh’s worst-ever industrial blaze, was blamed by authorities on saboteurs. Police say narrow exits trapped workers inside the nine-story building, killing 111 people and injuring more than 150.
Three employees have been arrested and police say they are being investigated for suspected negligence.
The fire has drawn attention to global retailers that source clothes from Bangladesh where wages are low — as little as the equivalent of $37 for some workers.
The meeting was attended by representatives of major clothing companies, including H&M, TSS, SEARS, TCHIBO, Global Merchants, GAP Inc, Nike Inc, LEVIS, Kappahl, Carrefour and Primark. No representative of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was present.
Islam said he told the companies his association would form a task force next week to uphold safety regulations at individual plants.
“We have described the post-fire situation as a crisis in the industry and requested all stakeholders to come forward with a collaborative approach to address the crisis,” Islam said.

Compensation
Bangladesh’s government said yesterday it will give 200,000 takas ($2,500) to the families of those who died in a garment factory fire last week and 50,000 takas ($625) to those who were injured.
The government’s offer of compensation, announced to The Associated Press by Mahbubul Hoque Shakil, an aide to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was separate from the garment industry’s promise to pay the families of the victims a monthly salary for at least 10 years.
More than 1,000 workers at the Tazreen factory in a Dhaka suburb protested outside the burned-out facility on Saturday demanding compensation for their lost wages. The government announced they would be paid for November, but some angry workers demanded they be given four months’ salary.



Extra police were deployed to the area to maintain calm, said Kader Dewan, an assistant commissioner of police.


More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

Updated 38 min 17 sec ago
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More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

  • Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing
  • The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: More than 70 countries committed Thursday to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were all present.
Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the United States, is expected to close the conference later with a call for the necessity for multilateral action.
Daniel Lewis, executive secretary of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, said he is hoping that words will be put into action.
“When we have information — for example the UN list of individuals and entities financing terrorism — we need to make sure measures like asset freezing are implemented fully and quickly,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Participants called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.
Participants included countries that have accused each other of funding terrorism, notably in the Arabian Gulf.
France has pushed for international coordination and more transparency in financial transactions. But it has recognized how sensitive the issue is, and saw the conference as a first step for coordinated action.
The French organizers noted that Daesh military defeats on the ground have not prevented the group from pursuing its terrorist activities, along with Al-Qaeda — especially in unstable regions of Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror groups don’t only rely on the cash economy — they’re using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations.
Daesh has also invested in businesses and real estate to ensure its financing. Daesh revenues alone were estimated at $2.5 billion between 2014 and 2016, according to the French president’s office.
Though most of the attacks in Western countries do not cost a lot of money, a French official said terror groups “behave like big organizations” in that it “costs a lot to recruit, train, equip people and spread propaganda.” The official was speaking anonymously under the presidency’s customary practice.
The French counterterrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told FranceInfo radio that Daesh uses micro-financing techniques to collect a great number of small amounts of money.
Work with the financial intelligence unit helped identify 416 people in France who have donated money to Daesh over the last two years, he said.
Money, he said, went to “320 collectors mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon from whom jihadis in Iraq and Syria could receive funds.”
In recent years, the US and other Western nations have encouraged Middle Eastern nations to close off such sources.
However, allegations over extremist funding in part sparked a near-yearlong boycott of Qatar by four Arab states.
Qatar denies funding extremists, though it has faced Western criticism about being lax in enforcing rules.
Participants agreed to hold a similar conference next year in Australia.