Child Labour: A Legal and Human Rights Perspective


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Presentation from international meeting on children's work and child labour hosted by the Africa Child Policy Forum, Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa, and Young Lives in Addis Ababa, 20-21 March 2014

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Child Labour: A Legal and Human Rights Perspective

  1. 1. East and Southern African Regional Symposium on Child Work/Labour 20-21 March 2014 Child labour a legal and human rights perspective Lemlem Fiseha
  2. 2. Outline  Definition of child labour  Child labour under international law  Child labour vs. human rights of children  Child labour under the laws of African countries  Outstanding issues  Recommendations
  3. 3. Child Labour: what it is?  Employment of a child under the minimum age of employment specified under national legislation in accordance with international standard.  Employment of a child under the age of 18 years in hazardous work that jeopardizes the physical, mental or moral well-being of a child, either because of the nature and the conditions in which the work is carried out.  Exploitation of children through slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labour, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, and illicit activities
  4. 4. Child Labour: What it is not Child labour does not include activities such as helping out, after school is over and schoolwork has been done, with light household or garden chores, childcare or other light work in a way that would not impede the child’s education and full development. (ILO, 2002)
  5. 5. Child labour and international child rights laws CRC All appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure children are protected from economic exploitation and any form of hazardous labour. Age of employment shall be defined by law ACRWC Children have the right To be protected from economic exploitation and any form of hazardous labour both in the formal and informal sector. They have the duty Subject to their age and ability, and such limitations as may be contained in the Charter to serve his national community by placing his physical and intellectual abilities at its service.
  6. 6. Contd … ILO Convention No 138 Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, 1976 Ratified by all African countries except Liberia, South Sudan, Somalia and Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic  Completion of compulsory schooling or 15 years: minimum age of employment, developing economies may set it at 14 years  13 years: to perform light work not likely to be harmful to the health or development of the child and will not prejudice the child’s education or training  18 years: hazardous work
  7. 7. Contd…  ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (C 182) Ratified by all African countries except South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Convention provides for the unconditional forms of hazardous labour that are Slavery, sale, trafficking, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking and 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.
  8. 8. Child Labour vs. human rights of children Child labour is clearly detrimental to individual children, preventing them from enjoying their childhood, hampering their development and sometimes causing lifelong physical or psychological damage. Child labour exposes children to  Denial of their right to education  Denial of the right to leisure and cultural activities  Violence (physical, psychological and sexual) by the employers and co workers  Physical injuries and other health risks at work  Meager wages or denial of wages  Forced and long hours of work
  9. 9. Contd… Child labour violates the cardinal principles of children's’ rights  Best interest of the child: requires the full and effective enjoyment of all the rights under the convention (General Comment 14)  Survival and development: requires protection from all forms of labour by abolishing the later and by regulating the working environment and conditions in accordance with international standards (General Comment 4, 15)  All actions and measures in the business sector should go beyond the eradication of child labour and include the full realization of all children’s rights (General Comment 16)
  10. 10. Laws of African countries on child labour Minimum age of employment AT THE AGE OF 14 (21 countries) ABOVE THE AGE OF 14 (33 countries) BELOW THE AGE OF 14 FOR LIGHT WORK Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania Algeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland , Togo, Tunisia , Zambia, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe Burundi, Egypt, Kenya Lesotho, Mauritania, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia *Liberia allows employment of children below the specified age of employment but the age limit is not provided
  11. 11. Contd… The minimum age for entry into employment should not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling. Nevertheless, Country Minimum age of compulsory education Minimum age of employment Central African Republic 16 14 Cote d’Ivoire 16 14 Morocco 18 15 Namibia 16 14 Niger 16 14 Seychelles 17 15 Uganda 13 12 (light work) Zimbabwe 16 15
  12. 12. Contd… Worst forms of child labour  Sexual and economic exploitation is proscribed every where in Africa  Sale, trafficking and abduction are prosecutable every where in Africa  29 countries have separate laws on trafficking while 7 have draft laws  9 countries have separate legislation on sexual offences and exploitation including prostitution and pornography
  13. 13. Outstanding concerns 127 million boys and 88 million girls are involved in child labour with 74 million boys and 41 million girls in the worst forms. This is attributable to - Extreme child poverty including the very high incidence of child headed households and lack of special protection - Incomplete harmonization of laws and regulations (in setting the minimum age, regulating hazardous labour and eliminating exploitation ) - Lack of functioning labour inspection and enforcement systems and capacities in place by the businesses and by the state
  14. 14. Contd… - The threshold of child labour is not clearly understood. Countries in their report to the ACERWC clearly state the need for clarity in the concept Burkina Faso, 2006 It is not always easy to differentiate between child labor based on exploitation and socializing labor or even labor which enables the child to face up to the imperative of survival. Cameroon, 2009 The notion of child labour, as defined by international conventions, does not always fit in with the specific socio cultural circumstances of Cameroon, which considers the work of children as a socializing activity to prepare them for adulthood.
  15. 15. Recommendations  The concept of child labour as envisaged under the ACRWC in the formal and informal sector needs clarification taking the best interest of the child and the African context in to account  States must ratify and harmonize their laws and allocate the necessary resource to enforcement of laws and strengthen labour inspection services  Child labour of children in religious and secular education establishments and in family businesses and domestic work shall be given due attention  Child right must be mainstreamed in investment plans, policies, agreements and monitoring activities
  16. 16. Thank you!