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Germany: Civil society calls on major law reform on corporate accountability

"Appeals court refuses legal aid in KiK case - Factory fire lawsuit shows: Germany needs major law reform on corporate liability", 22 May 2019

The Higher Regional Court in Hamm, Germany, has rejected the Pakistani claimaints’ application for legal aid in the proceedings concerning a fire at a textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan. The four claimants took their case to court in Germany to determine the share of responsibility borne by the clothing company for inadequate fire safety measures leading to the deaths of 258 workers.   

“This decision means that important legal questions on the liability of companies for their foreign suppliers will not be examined by a German court,” says Remo Klinger, the lawyer representing the claimants. “As the factory’s main client, KiK shares responsibility for the fire safety deficiencies – and can now evade responsibility thanks to a lack of regulation.”..

Miriam Saage-Maaß from the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) says: “The law urgently needs to be updated to reflect how globalized business operates. This is the only way to ensure that people affected by corporate rights violations get the access to justice they deserve.” Saage-Maaß says that Germany needs a fundmental reform of its corporate due diligence laws: “Voluntary undertakings are not enough to enforce human rights and labor rights. What we need is a strong and fair supply chain law.”...

Thomas Seibert from medico international stresses: “We now need to get politicians to act to ensure that companies like KiK cannot shirk human rights in the pursuit of profit.”...

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