JIS News

Divisional trainers in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are being trained on the issue of child labour in Jamaica and how to combat the problem.

This will result in the development of strategies to strengthen and expand the role of the police in addressing child labour in the island.

A workshop on the subject is being hosted over three days, from March 18 to 20, at Alhambra Inn in Kingston, by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, under the Tackling Child Labour Through Education (TACKLE) technical co-operation programme.

The forum seeks to continue to build capacity, and knowledge base on child labour. It targets police and community safety officers, mainly from Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine, as these parishes are the most populated, with significant child labour concerns.

The TACKLE programme is run in 12 countries, with Jamaica and Guyana being the only Caribbean countries involved. Jamaica is the only country that has developed a law enforcement training programme that is country specific.

Objectives of the TACKLE initiative are to: build the law enforcement and legislative mechanisms to address child labour; collaborate with the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education in order to include recurrent funding for child labour programmes in the national budget.

It also seeks to provide interventions for children involved in child labour (prevention and withdrawal), mainly through remedial programmes, through non-governmental organisations, as well as through the school system; and develop good practices and sharing of information, which will benefit all stakeholders.

National Project Officer, International Labour Organisation/TACKLE Jamaica, Nasolo Thompson, explained that based on the findings of a research, the workshop had become necessary to address many of the gray areas, and matters that members of the JCF and other practitioners are unsure about.

She said one of the main concerns raised was: what to do with a child who is taken out of a situation in which he or she is engaged in child labour.

“Our social services are already very stretched…what do we do with the child? You have a duty to protect…so do we put the child in a situation that is more or less positive than he or she was in?” she questioned.

She noted that while most persons were aware of what child labour is, not many were aware of ILO Conventions that inform local child labour laws.

“Another thing that was also very important was that many members of the Force were not sure how to deal with child labour…they weren’t sure which laws applied in which circumstance, and even if they did, they weren’t really sure what procedure needed to be enforced in order to address the situation,” Ms. Thompson pointed out.

Presentations and discussions emerging from the workshop include: understanding child labour; the legal framework and child labour; determining child labour functions of the police in relation to other key agencies; and the interview and report processes.

By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter