UN Agency Seeks End to Child Labour, Says Mil­lions of Young Lives ‘at Risk’

Obaseki de­cries wide­spread prac­tice, warns of sanc­tions

THISDAY - - BUSINESS WORLD DEVELOPMENT - Abim­bola Akosile

The In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ILO) Direc­tor-Gen­eral, Mr. Guy Ry­der has called for ur­gent global ac­tion to end com­mon dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with child labour, as the agency marked its World Day against Child Labour.

In a mes­sage on June 12, he said, “Many child labour­ers suf­fer life­long phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal con­se­quences. Their very lives can be at risk. These chil­dren are toil­ing in mines and fields, fac­to­ries and homes, ex­posed to pes­ti­cides and other toxic sub­stances, car­ry­ing heavy loads or work­ing long hours.”

About 73 mil­lion chil­dren are in­volved in do­ing haz­ardous work – al­most half of the 152 mil­lion chil­dren aged 5 to 17 across the world, who are still forced into child labour, the agency noted in a re­lease is­sued.

The World Day, which was first marked un­der the aus­pices of the ILO in 2002, draws at­ten­tion to the global ex­tent of child labour and the ef­forts needed to elim­i­nate it.

The Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs), adopted by world lead­ers in 2015, in­clude a re­newed global com­mit­ment to end­ing child labour. Al­though the over­all num­ber of chil­dren in haz­ardous work has de­creased in re­cent years, progress has been lim­ited to older chil­dren.

Be­tween 2012 and 2016, ac­cord­ing to ILO, the num­ber of chil­dren aged 5 to 11, do­ing dan­ger­ous work in con­tra­ven­tion in­ter­na­tional treaties, in­creased. “This is un­ac­cept­able”, Ry­der said.

Nearly three out of every four chil­dren made to work, are in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO).

Af­ter years of steady de­cline, child labour on farms and in the fields has started to rise again, driven in part by an in­crease in con­flicts and cli­mate-in­duced dis­as­ters. This wor­ri­some trend, not only threat­ens the well­be­ing of mil­lions of chil­dren, but also un­der­mines ef­forts to end global hunger and poverty, FAO warned.

“Chil­dren who work long hours are likely to con­tinue to swell the ranks of the hun­gry and poor”, said FAO Deputy Direc­tor-Gen­eral Daniel Gustafson. “As their fam­i­lies de­pend on their work, this de­prives the chil­dren of the op­por­tu­nity to go to school, which in turn pre­vents them from get­ting de­cent jobs and in­come in the fu­ture”.

ILO’s con­ven­tions on child labour, namely the Min­i­mum Age Con­ven­tion of 1973 and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Con­ven­tion of 1999, re­quire gov­ern­ments to es­tab­lish a na­tional list of haz­ardous work, pro­hib­ited for chil­dren. These treaties have been rat­i­fied by 171 and 181 ILO mem­ber States re­spec­tively, re­flect­ing a near global com­mit­ment to end child labour in all its forms.

In a re­lated devel­op­ment, the Gov­er­nor of Edo State, Mr. God­win Obaseki, has con­demned the use of chil­dren as labour­ers by em­ploy­ers of labour and warned that his ad­min­is­tra­tion would not ac­cept any form of ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren in the state. Obaseki gave the warn­ing on the oc­ca­sion of the World Day against Child Labour, marked by the United Na­tions each year.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­flux of com­pa­nies into the state, with the state gov­ern­ment’s rein­vig­o­rated ef­forts at cre­at­ing the en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for busi­nesses to thrive, the gov­er­nor main­tained that his ad­min­is­tra­tion would not con­done ob­nox­ious labour prac­tices such as the re­cruit­ment of chil­dren to work.

“We are com­mit­ted to equip­ping our chil­dren with qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for a pros­per­ous fu­ture. We have ro­bust laws and poli­cies that guar­an­tee the rights of chil­dren in the state and will ac­ti­vate these laws and poli­cies in the event that chil­dren are be­ing ex­ploited or abused anywhere in the state,” he said.

The gov­er­nor urged Edo peo­ple and res­i­dents to re­port any case of ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren to the law en­force­ment agen­cies for pros­e­cu­tion as the state gov­ern­ment has sen­si­tised the en­force­ment agen­cies to treat such cases with dis­patch.

NOTE: In­ter­ested read­ers should con­tinue in the on­line edi­tion on www.this­daylive.com

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