Increasing Human Rights Violations in Sri Lanka’s Fashion Industry

Increasing Human Rights Violations in Sri Lanka’s Fashion Industry
Photo: Ecotextile News (2021)

Judit Kolbe 

Sri Lanka & Human Rights 

Global Human Rights Defence

On 6 October 2021, the risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft published a new report, revealing a worldwide decline in labour rights manifesting itself in particular in the Asian fashion manufacturing hubs, including Sri Lanka (Nazalya, 2021). The report identifies several human rights violations, such as child labour, fored labour, modern slavery, as well as unfair wages and working hours (Deeley, 2021). Amid other categories, Sri Lanka fell into the high risk level in the area of health and safety of workers, indicating a steep decline undoubtedly exacerbated by the pandemic (Nazalya, 2021). Earlier this year, Sri Lanka’s president Rajapaksa ordered garment factories to remain open despite COVID-19. Numerous virus outbreaks in those factories have since been reported, alongside mandatory quarantines resulting in wage deductions (HRW, 2021). 

Yet, the report clarifies that while COVID-19 did have adverse effects on the labour and human rights of workers in the fashion industry, a steady decline can be established predating the pandemic (Deeley, 2021). The report suggests that traditional human rights due diligence in this business sector has been overthrown by the pandemic and imposes on companies resorting to low-cost labour from these countries the need to innovate in said due diligence measures (Nazalya, 2021). 

For further reading and source:

Deeley, R. (2021, October 7). Human Rights Violations Are Increasing in Fashion’s Manufacturing Hubs. Business Of Fashion. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) (2021, July 12). Sri Lanka: Protect Garment Workers’ Rights During Pandemic. 

Nazalya, S. (2021, October 6). Worldwide decline in labour rights strikes at heart of global supply chains - Human Rights Outlook 2021. Verisk Maplecroft.