Sincerity is the greatest quality in human beings and it is children who have it in abundance. Children are devastatingly honest. That is why religious leaders have warned us and the punishment that await those who abuse children. Such criminals should be thrown into the deepest sea with a millstones tied around their necks.
On June 12, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. According to the United Nation each year on June 12, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society and millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in 2015, include a renewed global commitment to ending child labour. Specifically, target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls on the global community to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
The 2019 theme is “children should not work in fields, but on dreams”. Yet today, it is shocking to note that about 152 million children are still in child labour. Although child labour occurs in almost every sector, seven out of every ten child labourers are in agriculture.
This year the ILO celebrates 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. The World Day Against Child Labour looks back on progress achieved through 100 years of ILO support to countries on tackling child labour. Since its founding in 1919, the protection of children has been embedded in the ILO’s Constitution. One of the first Conventions adopted by the ILO was on Minimum Age in Industry.
On this World Day, the UN says it also looks forward towards UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7 set by the international community calling for an end to child labour in all its forms by 2025. The UN calls for immediate action to address the remaining challenges so that the world community can get firmly on track towards eliminating child labour. A newly released ILO report points the way with policy approaches and responses.
What is the situation in Sri Lanka? It is known that many households employ poor children without enabling them to go to schools. Food, clothing, healthcare and other basic facilities are minimal. Some families justify this by saying the poor children will suffer more if they are not employed. Even if this is true such families should ensure that the employed children are sent to school so that through education and other means their human dignity could be restored.
Children are also known to be employed in factories and other places. Agriculture being the heart of Sri Lanka’s civilization no official figures are available on how many children are used in the fields without allowing them to achieve their dreams or bringing out their creative and innovative talents.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in a report says despite Sri Lanka being recognised as a pathfinder country to end violence against children and is in its final stages of developing a national child protection policy, it lacks a comprehensive national plan to address the issues. The report recommends the development of a national plan to address issues under the Optional Protocol while providing adequate human and financial resources for its implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has published its concluding observations on the report submitted by Sri Lanka on the Optional Protocol II adopted on the convention of rights of the child in relation to sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography.
The committee recommendations include the development of a national plan to address issues under the OP while providing adequate human and financial resources for its implementation, monitoring and evaluation, according to a report in the Sunday Times of June 9.