International Labour Organization (ILO) TACKLE Project Officer, Nasolo Thompson, is lauding the Government’s response to child labour, noting that the country leads the region in that regard.
She said that the establishment of an entire unit in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, which is dedicated to the issue, is testament of the Government’s commitment to the elimination of child labour.
Mrs. Thompson, who was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, cited the Child Care and Protection Act, as a very important legislative response to the matter, noting that the setting up of the Children’s Registry, which accounts for all reported cases of child labour, is another major achievement.
She further mentioned the TACKLE project and the United States-funded International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), through which greater emphasis is being placed on protecting the human rights of children in Jamaica.
“These are things that Jamaica leads in the Caribbean, because not many other countries have such infrastructure to respond to child labour. Though we have similar histories like other countries, when it comes to child labour, Jamaica is in fact, more committed to tackling the issue,” she stated.
The TACKLE project, which is an initiative of the ILO in collaboration with the Child Labour Unit (CLU) of the Ministry, seeks to address child labour through education, and is ongoing. “We want to draw attention to the human rights of children, and basically look at what is important for developing an environment that will respect the human rights of children,” Mrs. Thompson explained.
“We are seeking to heighten the awareness regarding child labour in the overall population. We want people to be sensitised about child labour, so if a child is seen in a particular setting that looks like they are being exploited, then it should raise some red flag, and persons will be prompted to report such cases,” she stated.
Mrs. Thompson noted that the ILO is pleased, based on the fact that there is a change in behaviour and society is starting to recognise that child labour is harmful to the overall development of a child, and should not be allowed to continue.
“What we realize is that persons are now coming to the point, where they are able to identify and report cases of child labour, which is very significant,” she added.
A 2002 child labour survey revealed that more than 16,000 Jamaican children were engaged in some form of economic activity, with over 7,000 involved in the worst forms of child labour, such as drug trafficking, child pornography, child prostitution, and work similar to slavery. A total of 78 cases were reported in 2011.
To report cases of child labour, persons can contact the CLU at 948-0098, or the Ministry of Labour and Social Security at 922-9500-14.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO