Child Labor on the Rise

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The Coordinator of the Division of Child Labor at the Ministry of Labor, Patience S. Heah, has said the unavailability of budgetary allocation to implement programs to tackle child labor, is a major contributor to increased child Labor in Liberia.

Madam Heah named the low capacity of social partners due to a lack of technical support and logistic, limited commitment of stakeholders and the lack of coordination among them as some of the other factors.

She defined child labor as “work undertaken by children under the minimum working age as stipulated in national legislation in accordance with the ILO Convention 138 .”

She made the statement Thursday, February 27, at the opening of a two-day interactive workshop for media professionals.

The workshop, under the theme: “Reporting Children’s issue and Consequences of Child Labor and Abuse,” was held at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship Hall in Monrovia.

Madam Heah stated that child labor instances are rampant across the country and that they primarily exist in the mining, agricultural, and informal sectors.  She said that children are also used for illicit activities such as promotion of criminal activities and smuggling of narcotic substances.

Discussing how the ministry would enforce the fight against child labor, Ms. Heah explained that the Labor Ministry is prepared to fight against child labor in the country:  “We are going to work hard in fighting against child labor and make sure the children are taken off the streets. This task is difficult because there would be no proper care given to these children due to insufficient support from parents and guardians. In spite of this, we will continue to work towards solving the problem.”

She defined a child as any person below the age of 18 years in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of a child. It is also in line with ECOWAS child policy.

Making reference to the ILO convention 182 she said, “Liberia ratified the ILO Convention 182 in June 2003, but is yet to ratify Convention 138. The knowledge base on child labor in Liberia is relatively weak and grass roots commitment to reduce child labor is poor.”

Child Labor is viewed by many as something only taking place outside a child’s home, while the description and analysis of the incidence and nature of child labor in Liberia draws on data collected under the 2010 Labor Force Survey (LFS) as its main source.

“The absence of a general prohibition of work is likely to harm the health, safety, and morals of children less than 18 years, as is the absence of a clear enforceable list which defines these types of work,” Ms. Heah concluded.

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