This article is published by New Europe, 23-6-2007

Dutch NGOs summoned by Bangalore court

Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based in the Netherlands were asked to appear before a court in Bangalore on June 25. They are accused of “cybercrime, acts of racist and xenophobic nature and criminal defamation,” according to the NGO’s pres release. The two organizations are the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN).

The former is an international network of trade unions and NGOs, the latter an independent NGO, based on solidarity with deprived groups in Indian society. They have been raising public “awareness of serious labour rights’ violations” at jeans suppliers Fibres and Fabrics International and its wholly-owned subsidiary Jeans Knit Pvt. Ltd (FFI/JKPL). This is the first time that a factory has filed suit against the CCC and ICN for publishing information on working conditions in the garment industry on their respective websites, their press release points out.

Their information was based on interviews with workers conducted in 2005 and 2006, and backed up by a fact-finding mission of seven human rights’ and women’s rights organisations.

Since July 2006 the Garment and Textile Workers’ Union (GATWU), the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), the Civil Initiative for Peace and Development (CIVIDEP), the Women Garment Workers’ Front Munnade and the CCC Task Force Tamil Naidu have been prohibited from distributing information on working conditions at FFI/JKPL inside and outside India.

“Suing all human rights organizations that report about working conditions in the garment industry in Bangalore will not solve anything,” according to Esther de Haan, of the CCC International Secretariat and one of the accused. She called on FFI/JKPL to start a dialogue with GATWU and the other organisations, according to the CCC/INC press release.

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India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - October 8, 2007