Blog: Leonie BarrieFreedom of speech

Leonie Barrie | 4 December 2007

As long as India's laws continue to silence anyone who dares to criticise working conditions in some of the country's factories, the international buying community will find it very hard to trust apparel manufacturers who say they abide by socially responsible codes of conduct.

Activists at the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) currently face arrest after jeans producer Fibres and Fabrics International (FFI) and its subsidiary Jeans Knits Pvt Ltd sued them for exposing worker rights abuses at its factories. And local organisations are under a gagging order that prevents them from speaking up for the workers.

The case obtained a high-level political profile when India’s Minister of Commerce and
Industry, Kamal Nath, brought it up with the Dutch government during the Dutch royal visit to India on 28 October. Nath claimed that public criticism of labour conditions is akin to putting up "technical barriers to trade".

But until India upholds freedom of speech, there will always be suspicions that it’s got something to hide.

INDIA: Arrest warrants issued for critics of jeans maker


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