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Jun 12, 2019

Eliminating Child Labour in Belize

In 2002, the International Labour Organization launched the World Day Against Child Labour to raise awareness on the extent of child labour across the world and the actions and efforts needed to eliminate it. Back in 2017, the Government of Belize partnered with the CLEAR II Project to identify areas where child labour is prevalent in the country and to look at ways in which this can be mitigated. Today, that partnership came to an end, with submissions being made to the Labour Advisory Board. Those submissions included recommendations to amend existing legislation with a goal to eradicate child labour. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A country level engagement and assistance to reduce child labour in Belize concluded today in commemoration of the World Day Against Child Labour, which is recognized annually on June twelfth. Via the CLEAR Two Project, G.O.B. was supported with the strengthening of the legal framework and the monitoring and enforcement mechanisms related to child labour. A Legislative Review Committee comprised of public and private sector organizations, as well as civil society review existing legislation related to child labour.

 

Leidi Urbina

Leidi Urbina, Country Coordinator, CLEAR II Project

“Some of the key recommendations that have been submitted includes looking at the age of a child under the labour act. Presently, the age of a child is fourteen under the labour act. Now if we look at what is the internationally recognized for a child it is a person or anybody under the age of eighteen. So that is one of the recommendations; to change the definition of a child under the labour act. The second one is also to align the minimum age for employment. As is right now, and this is specific to fulltime employment; so it is very important to understand that it is minimum age for fulltime employment. As is, it is fourteen so the recommendation submitted by the LRC is to increase it to sixteen.”

 

That is aligned with the compulsory age of education to sixteen. But child labour is very prevalent in Belize, especially in the agricultural industry in the north. Children are exposed to child labour primarily because they help to generate income for the family. So how does this process address the financial dependency while eradicating child labour?

 

Anne Marie Thompson

Anne Marie Thompson, Labour Commissioner

“This morning I was coming to work and the vehicle slowed down at a speed bump and children run out, bags of mangoes. And the first thing that crossed my mind was why aren’t you in school. And they say I have to help my family; it’s not that I don’t want to. So that’s just a typical basic example. But again, you look on construction sites and you see young boys, fourteen years old, fifteen years old; they are on the roof. What if they fall? That’s twenty feet down or they are on scaffolding. The idea is not that child cannot work. There is decent work, but there is also hazardous work. And that is what we are saying that anything that negatively impacts on a child’s social, educational being, health…something is wrong with it. So it is an issue that we are trying to address. We have to work with all stakeholders. We have to go out to communities, we have to go to different industries to address it and it has implications for Belize as a country.”

 

To assist the government with monitoring and enforcement, the project also provided a list of hazardous work, light work and worst forms of child labour, as well as industrial undertaking to further clarify what child labour is.

 

Leidi Urbina

“If you look at the labour act presently, it is very difficult to understand what child labour is based on the language included in the labour act. So by including these definitions and clarifying certain things, we are hoping that the enforcement agencies and the labour inspectorate will be able to carry out better inspections having proper legal framework to work with. In addition to this, to complement the definitions, the LRC also submitted a draft hazardous work list and a draft light work list.”

 

Anne Marie Thompson

“As we speak, those recommendations are at the board and they are reviewing them. When they are finished, then they will advise the ministry on how to go forward. But the ultimate objective is to pass or improve existing legislation.”

 

The recommendations are still in the validation process and needs to be further consulted. Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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