Forum On Child Labor And Trafficking Held In Samoa

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Pacific countries urged to work together, ILO meeting told

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, July 22, 2014) – The Pacific countries need to work together in building regional efforts to "eliminate the worst forms of child labour and trafficking in the Pacific island countries" that goes into its second day of a three days forum in Apia, Samoa.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is spearheading a forum on child labour and trafficking in Samoa.

The sessions focus on identifying the nature, the cause and trends and the international legal framework provided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as guidelines in dealing with such issues.

Also needed to identify are the "hazards and risks in determining a hazardous child labour list."

A survey conducted in the Pacific in Fiji (2009), Papua New Guinea (2010) and Kiribati in 2011, an alarming number of child labour issues were exposed.

Street vending, commercial sexual exploitation

"The employment of very young children is an alarming problem," said the ILO representative Ms. Fatiaki

"The younger the children, the more vulnerable they are to hazards at workplace and to economic exploitation," she told the regional delegates.

ILO’s definition of hazardous occupations are work that could "affect and harm the health, safety or morale of children."

Out of the six categorized hazardous work label by ILO, Samoa can be identified in four.

These are farming and fishing work, transport and navigational occupations, services and sports related and bottle and scrap metal collecting.

The other two hazardous occupations are craftsman and production processing work and mining and quarrying.

Under the ILO Employment Relations Promulgation Act 2007, all employers found employing any child under the age of 18 within these lines of work is liable for prosecution.

Child labour is a common problem in the Pacific whereas trafficking is noted to occur in only a few pacific islands.

However, according to ILO surveys, child trafficking is spreading like a disease and it is only a matter of time before other islands are affected.

"That is why there is a need to address it" said Aumua Isaia Lameko, Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL) during the opening of the forum.

Samoa was one of the first Pacific islands to ratify the United Nations ILO child labour and trafficking act in 1973.

The importance of the Act moved Samoa to legislate the rights of a child within several Government bodies such as Education Act 2009, Labour- Employment Relations Act 2013 and Child Care and Protection Bill 2013.

A representative from the United Nation International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) is also presenting an overview of child protection issues in Samoa.

Existing laws, policies and related issues faced in the school system will be presented by Ministry of Women Community and Social Development.

MCIL’s focus will be on existing child labour laws and compliance and identifying gaps in the legal framework.

Two non-governmental organisations Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) and Pasefika Mana will speak on their experiences in dealing with such issues within their organisation.

They will share lessons learnt and guidelines they adopted in dealing with children.

The Forum is hoped to formulate an action plan which could take a step further into the elimination of child labour and trafficking within the Pacific.

The forum ends tomorrow.

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