Posts tagged pakistan

1 Notes

289 dead at Pakistani garment factory where owners locked exits

This story is getting lost this week amid developments in the Middle East, but an enormous tragedy has befallen low-paid, unprotected garment workers producing for export.

The workers were locked inside to “protect the clothes” bound for Europe, according to a worker interviewed in this article by the New York Times. Locking the exits is a common practice in the industry: In a recent International Labor Organization survey of Haitian export export garment factories, a third kept their exits locked as well.

Expanding the garment sector is a major component of the economic plan for Haiti’s recovery. The principals have pledged to ensure better working conditions, but problems persist. More detail, of course, in the book.


Under the SOFA

Reuters reports that "two U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan have been sentenced to a year in prison for raping a 14-year-old Haitian boy." That wire says, and I have no information otherwise, that this is the first time U.N. soldiers have been tried and sentenced in Haiti.

That doesn’t mean that they were tried in a Haitian court, of course*. That would be, by all accounts, a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, which grants the foreign soldiers operating in Haiti immunity from local prosecution. 

(*A Pakistani military tribunal came to Haiti, and operated independently of both MINUSTAH and Haitian authority. The BBC reports the now ex-soldiers will serve their sentences back home.)

But does it suggest some wiggle room about where and how U.N. soldiers all over the world — Democratic Republic of Congo, the Balkans, what have you — could be held accountable for their actions?

That big question is unclear. On the one hand, this trial was actually visible to some portion of the Haitian people and press in a way that, say, whatever happened to the battalion expelled to Sri Lanka in 2007 on accusations of paying for sex with minors was not. On the other, it essentially remained an internal Pakistani matter from start to finish, with at least some Haitian press relying on such sources as Sen. Youri Latortue for information about what was going on.

The more immediate question of course is what this might mean for that other famous case, when total diplomatic immunity met a total lack of bacteriological immunity in the Artibonite. I couldn’t begin to guess, but I doubt I’m the only one wondering. Some far-flung but key newspapers have picked up this story as well.

(h/t on story to @HaitiMemory)