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Apr 30, 2021

A National Child Labour Policy for Belize

This week, Cabinet gave its approval for the Ministry of Labour to proceed with the development of a national child labour plan.  The last one was developed back in 2009, but was never implemented.  This time around, the ministry says they have done the necessary ground work and created achievable targets to push Belize towards the International Labour Organization’s 2025 goal of eliminating the worse forms of child labour. According to Labour Commissioner Ann Marie Thompson, it will be a collaborative effort.


On the Phone: Ann Marie Thompson, Labour Commissioner

“All members of the International Labour Organization are ranked in terms of their child labour efforts. You have the bottom of the table and thankfully because of our hard work we are not there, we are at the middle and that means we have a ranking known as moderate – moderate ranking. So, because we are not at the top of the table, we are at the middle means that we have work to do. Every country has incidence of child labour; no country is child labour free. In our own economy we see our children who are at times in the cane field and that is becoming less and less because of the work of the labour department to do labour inspection because of our work with the B.S.C.F.A. and Fair-trade. Also, sometimes you may see them in the construction industry. It is very complex because no parent wants to harm their children but they may have a child or they take their children with them to teach them skills or teach them the business. But what we are saying is that it is important that once the work is harmful or hazardous the children must be kept away.  When you think about child labour, you are thinking of labour that is very hazardous for children. Labour or work that will harm children and as a country we have a duty, a responsibility to protect our children, to protect their rights, education, welfare, their safety and security. And so this is where the national child labour policy will come in.  So we prepared an information paper to cabinet to say that we are in the process of developing and instituting a national child labour policy. We had input from our stakeholders including the International Labour Organization; UNICEF; the unions and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. So, that is where we are. We got input and developed a terms of reference and very soon we will embark on a program so that we can have a national child labour policy in Belize.”

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