Children continue to remain the nation’s most valuable treasure and the Government’s vision, as dictated in the National Child Policy.
So said Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development Jennifer Baptiste-Primus as T&T joins with the international community in observing World Day Against Child Labour yesterday.
Every year on June 12, T&T joins with the international community in observing World Day Against Child Labour.
Spearheaded by the International Labour Organization (ILO), this annual observance provides an opportunity for its constituents to reaffirm their commitment to preventing and eliminating child labour globally, regionally and nationally.
In her message yesterday Baptiste-Primus said as a member state of the ILO, T&T reaffirms this annual commitment and supports this year’s theme which is “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams.”
She said the theme is timely and relevant, as 152 million children throughout the world are still in child labour in almost every sector, where seven out of every 10 is within the field of agriculture on a global scale.
She said this year the International Labour Organization celebrates 100 years of advancing social justice and promoting decent work. Since its founding in 1919, the protection of children has been enshrined in the constitution of the ILO, as one of the first conventions established by the ILO was on Minimum Age in Industry (No 5, 1919).
She said The ILO defines child labour as work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and interferes with their schooling by depriving them of the opportunity to attend school. It is to be noted that not all work performed by children is considered child labour. Child labour should be differentiated from child work.
Child work, she said, refers to positive participation of children in an economic activity, which is not detrimental to their health or mental and physical development.
It is beneficial work, which allows for normal schooling and does not impede the child from doing leisure activities or resting. For example, activities such as helping their parents around the home and assisting in a family business are not considered child labour.
In fact, these activities can contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families, it can provide them with skills and experience and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.
The minister said Children continue to remain the nation’s most valuable treasure and the Government’s vision, as dictated in the National Child Policy, is that “All children are happy, healthy and confident; and their rights are respected, protected and promoted to facilitate their holistic development towards achieving their fullest potential as constructive members of society now and in the future.”
We must continue to work together to preserve this precious asset, our children,” she said.
The Government of T&T ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on December 5, 1991, two years after it was adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989.
The CRC is the most prominent international legal instrument safeguarding the rights of children and outlines the responsibilities of Member States in ensuring children’s rights are upheld, promoted and protected.
She said with Government’s reaffirmation to preventing child labour and child trafficking by the ratification of the ILO Conventions on Minimum Age and Worst Forms of Child Labour, and the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.
and by signing the Declaration of the Regional Initiative: Latin American and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour we continue to stand commitment to the global cause.
The minister said recognising child labour as a cross-cutting issue, Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour.
She said instruments of appointment to this committee was made by herself, as Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development on February 27, 2019.
The committee, she added, comprises representatives from 14 Government agencies, two NGOs and academia through the University of the West Indies.
Baptiste-Primus said the role of this Committee is to mitigate the negative impact child labour has on national development.
It is mandated to oversee the implementation of critical activities associated with the prevention and elimination of child labour in Trinidad and Tobago; including the conduct of research to better understand the enabling factors and root causes of child labour. The Committee has also been charged with the responsibility of developing a National Child Labour Policy and Action Plan.