Justice still outstanding: an update of legal cases related to Rana Plaza eight years on

Eight years since the Rana Plaza collapse of 24 April 2013, full justice is still far off. The survivors have been calling for sentencing of Sohel Rana, the five factory owners, and others responsible for this disaster. However, an update of case statuses published on the occasion of the anniversary of the factory disaster, by the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), shows that the attainment of justice is still stalled and delayed.

Last weekend, again family members who lost loved ones in the Rana Plaza collapse called for swift sentencing of the factory and building owners. A range of court cases have been in process for over five years already, but fail to be concluded.

Eleven cases have been filed to the First Labour Court for breaches of Bangladesh labour law. The accused include building owner Sohel Rana, and several factory owners and officials. Cases are partly even further delayed by the lockdown measures currently in place in Bangladesh. Most of them are due to be resumed mid May.

Two criminal cases on behalf of the state are pending in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court and Session Judge Court, against building owner Sohel Rana and a number of other individuals, for murder and violations against the building code. Both of these cases weren’t heard since 2020 and progress in the cases was further slowed down by the new lockdown. The cases have made little process in the past five years.

Lastly, four writ petitions are pending in the Honourable High Court Division of Supreme Court of Bangladesh. The petitioners include BLAST, whose petition means to seek an investigation into the Rana Plaza Buildlng Collapse, action against those responsible and compensation for the affected. All petitions are pending for hearing.

Most of the accused facing charges in criminal or labour court are currently out on bail, or have outstanding arrest warrant against them. Building owner Sohel Rana is the only one awaiting outcome of the proceedings in custody.

For sustainable factory safety and the building up of a trustworthy and functional state inspection system it is vital that negligent factory and building owners as well as inspectors who failed in their duty to uphold building regulations are held to account. Only an end to impunity of those responsible can bring full justice and set precedents that help prevent a next disaster.

Read more:

Overview of court cases provided by BLAST.

News article in Dhaka Tribune.

News article in Daily Star.

published 2021-04-28