New Internationalist

Global gag

March 2008

Seven Dutch human rights activists face extradition to India and two years’ imprisonment for the ‘cyber crime’ of publishing online testimonies from Indian workers, which expose high work pressure, forced unpaid overtime and physical and verbal abuse at a clothing factory. Fibre and Fabrics International (FFI), which supplies jeans to the Dutch company G-Star, has filed a suit against the Europe-based Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), and magistrates in Bangalore have requested that the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs issue arrest warrants. Authorities there claim that public criticism of labour conditions violates free trade rules. If India is successful in its bid to charge the individuals, ‘it will have serious consequences for all human rights and corporate accountability organizations’, says Ineke Zeldenrust of the CCC.

Local campaigning organizations in India are already under a gag order – for the past 18 months they have been prevented from supporting FFI’s workers. Their case is due to be heard in April.

This column was published in the March 2008 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 409

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