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Presentation by Human Rights Watch on the worst forms of child labour.

Day 3 of the 6th ICGLR-OECD-UN GoE Forum on responsible mineral supply chains, 15 November 2013.


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  1. 1. 6th ICGLR-OECD-UNGOE Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains, November 2013 The Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Mining Sector Laura Schülke, Human Rights Watch
  2. 2. Introduction • Human Rights Watch: Research and advocacy on human rights: - human rights and mining (large-scale and small-scale) - child labor in various settings, including small-scale gold mining (Mali, Ghana and Tanzania) Children in an artisanal gold mine, Kéniéba cercle, Mali © ILO/IPEC
  3. 3. OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains Annex II, the Model Supply Chain Policy for a Responsible Global Supply Chain of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas, states: Regarding serious abuses associated with the extraction, transport or trade of minerals: “While sourcing from, or operating in, conflict-affected and high-risk areas, we will neither tolerate nor by any means profit from, contribute to, assist with or facilitate the commission by any party of: i) any forms of torture […] ii) any forms of forced or compulsory labor […] iii) the worst forms of child labor”
  4. 4. Worst forms of child labor – What does international law say? ILO C182: Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 Article 2: “The term child shall apply to all persons under the age of 18” Article 3: “Worst forms of child labor comprises: a) all forms of slavery […] and forced or compulsory labour […]; b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution […]; d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.”
  5. 5. ILO Recommendation 190, on C182, 1999 Recommendation concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour Section II. Hazardous Work: 3. “In determining the types of work referred to under Article 3(d) of the Convention […]consideration should be given, inter alia, to: – (a) work which exposes children to physical, psychological or sexual abuse; – (b) work underground, under water, at dangerous heights or in confined spaces; – (c) work with dangerous machinery, equipment and tools, or which involves the manual handling or transport of heavy loads; – (d) work in an unhealthy environment which may […] expose children to hazardous substances […]; – (e) work under particularly difficult conditions such as work for long hours or during the night or work where the child is unreasonably confined to the premises of the employer.”
  6. 6. ILO Convention 182, Article 1: “Each Member which ratifies this Convention shall take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency” • 177 States have ratified C182, amongst which: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda
  7. 7. HRW findings on child labor in small-scale gold mining (Mali, Ghana and Tanzania) Physical dangers of mining gold • Digging pits manually, up to 70 meters deep • Risk of serious injuries due to tools • Prolonged exposure to dust →risk of lung diseases • Working underground in unstable pits  risk of pit collapse Two 13-year-old boys dig for gold ore at a small-scale mine in Mbeya Region, Tanzania
  8. 8. Two boys crush gold ore on a gold rush site in Shinyanga Region, Tanzania A miner lowers down a deep pit by holding onto a rope in a small-scale mining site in Mbeya Region, Tanzania
  9. 9. • • Carrying heavy loads → skeletal deformation Mixing and burning mercury-gold amalgam → mercury attacks central nervous system, can cause irreversible damage A 13-year-old boy digging and lifting gold ore at a small-scale mining site in Mbeya Region, Tanzania Sexual exploitation • Girls of mining areas frequently victims of sexual exploitation due to high number of single male miners → high risk of sexual violence, HIV and other STDs Harm to education • Children often miss classes and exams; drop out of school
  10. 10. Underlying causes of child labor include: • Extreme poverty affecting vulnerable groups such as orphans Lack of government action to support these vulnerable groups: • Lack of socio-economic support • Laws may exist but may not be implemented properly • No care system for very young children whose families work on mining sites Four-year-old girl in Tanzania plays in an amalgamation pond contaminated with mercury while adults process gold at a gold rush site in Shinyanga region, Tanzania
  11. 11. Selected HRW recommendations on child labor in ASGM To governments: • Improve access to schools, vocational training, and childcare in mining areas • Establish social protection schemes (such as cash transfers) • Regularly inspect mines, impose penalties • Improve care for mining-related health issues (ex: mercury) To gold trading companies, gold refining companies and gold retailers: • Due diligence policies, including on child labor  monitoring; visits to mines • If child labor found urge authorities/suppliers to take action
  12. 12. To large-scale gold mining companies: • Address child labor in small-scale gold mining as part of community engagement strategies To the conveners of this Forum: • Conduct pilot program on child labor due diligence, include ILO as stakeholder • Develop detailed guidance on child labor in the minerals supply chain A 15-year-old boy mixes mercury and ground gold ore at a processing site in Mbeya Region, Tanzania
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