The Rock-Mining Children of Sierra Leone Have Not Found Peace

The Atlantic

By Greg Campbell

Though the war has ended, Charles Taylor has been sentenced, and mineral companies are thriving, the poor of this West African country are little better off.

ADONKIA, Sierra Leone — Ten years after the end of Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war over control of its diamond fields, children as young as 3 years old continue to toil in its mines, hoping at best to earn a few pennies for food in a country still wracked by extreme poverty.

But the children aren’t looking for diamonds, which at least hold the hope of a big payday. In a sign of how desperate things remain in Sierra Leone, they’re reduced to one of man’s most difficult labors in their attempt to survive — breaking granite rocks into gravel and selling the piles, cheaply and infrequently, to construction companies for use in cement. Read more


Sudan: Country Dismisses U.S. Report on Human Rights Violation


Juba — The government of South Sudan has strongly denounced the US department of states report on human rights on the country and instead reiterated its commitment to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens in the word’s newest nation.

A report released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Right and Labor pins documents a series of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other inhumane treatment of civilians that allegedly occurred in South Sudan between January to December 2011.

Approximately 250,000 people, it says, were displaced as a result of the conflict reportedly emanating from fighting between South Sudan army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), clashes with renegade militia groups or cattle-related disputes among communities. Read more


Moroccans Employ More Than 30,000 Child Maids

AFP | [The Jordan Times]   

RABAT — More than 30,000 children under the age of 15 are employed in Morocco as domestic servants, according to figures released Tuesday by the planning ministry.

A law banning this practice was drawn up by the previous government but has still not been passed by parliament.

During a seminar on Saturday in Rabat, a rights group stressed that the employment of under-age maids was “the result of poverty, illiteracy and the lack of infrastructure in rural zones”, where most child workers come from.

The “little maids” are for the most part “badly paid and submitted to physical and economic violence”.

Once passed, the law against child labour would provide for prison terms and heavy fines for anybody who employs a child under 15 as household help.

“This is a shame for our country, a catastrophe, these figures are alarming,” Fouzia Assouli, president of the Federation of the Democratic League of Women’s Rights, told AFP.

“We have ceaselessly pointed out, within the collective that includes a large number of associations, the seriousness of this phenomenon of domestic labour by minors for about 10 years, in order to obtain a regulation in the Labour Code,” she added.

“All this is the responsibility of the state, and even if it’s a matter of people’s attitude, it is up to the state to change that outlook and if need be to penalise it,” she concluded.


DOL Withdraws Much-Needed Child Safety Protections for Children Working for Wages on Farms

The safety of child workers on farms was dealt a harsh blow April 19th when the Obama administration unexpectedly announced that it was withdrawing long-awaited occupational child safety rules for agriculture. The National Consumers League (NCL) and the Child Labor Coalition, which NCL co-chairs, has been a leader in the fight for protections against hazardous work in agriculture—well known among safety experts as the most dangerous industry that large numbers of children are allowed to work in.

Each year, 85 to 100 youth die on farms, mostly through accidents on family farms.  In 2010, twelve of the 16 children killed while working for wages died performing agricultural work. “There are specific jobs on farms that can be incredibly dangerous for children and teens,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director and the co-chair of the CLC. “The Department of Labor rules addressed those dangerous farm tasks.”

The proposed agricultural rules, called hazardous occupations orders, had not been updated by the Department of Labor for more than four decades. They specifically targeted the farm jobs that kill the most workers: driving tractors, handling stressed or enraged livestock, working from heights, and laboring in grain facilities. There were 15 rules in all.

Children 14 and 15 would still be allowed to drive a tractor but they would be required to take a comprehensive safety course instead of the superficial course current regulations allow. They would not be allowed to castrate or brand animals or work from heights above six feet because of the dangers posed by falls.

“They are long over-due, badly needed protections,” said Sally Greenberg. “These rules emanated from painstaking research conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health that tracked injuries and fatalities among youth workers. We estimate these common sense rules would have saved 50-100 children over the next decade.”

Read more


Laos partners with ILO to combat child labor

by Khonesavanh Latsaphao, Vientiane Times & the Asia News Network

Laos is one of many countries in the world where large numbers of children are engaged in some form of work, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported at a meeting in Vientiane yesterday.The June 13-14 meeting is taking place for the soft launch of the National Child Labour Survey and consultation on the draft National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Laos.“Many children in Laos are employed, because more than 50 per cent of the population is under the age of 20,” National Coordinator in Laos Khemphone Phaokhamkeo told the meeting.She explained that Laos has widespread poverty, and many children do not go to school.According to the ILO’s most recent estimate, 215 million children around the world are trapped in some form of work. These children do not go to school, they have little or no time to play, and many of them do not receive proper nutrition or health care.More than half of them work in hazardous conditions and in the worst areas of work, such as forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation, and illicit activities like drug use. These hazardous and worst forms of labour can cause children long-term physical, psychological or moral damage.Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Laoly Faiphengyoa said the Lao government has begun promoting and protecting the rights and benefits of children, along with youth development, as development ta rgets in the 7th National Socio-economic Development Plan for 2011-2015.Laos ratified ILO Conventions 138 on the minimum working age and 182 on the worst forms of child labour in 2005, he added.

Read more


DR Congo: Hoping for a Brighter Future

By Christian Kilundu [from World Vision—A CLC member]

He was in primary school when he first met the rebels. They arrived and promised big salaries. The poverty and insecurity the children lived in could be escaped, they swore.

Of course, once inside the rebel group, life wasn’t as it was promised.

In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), rebels continue to recruit children into their fighting parties as a war continues to unfold against the country’s army. In the 15 years of fighting, an estimated 5 million people have been killed, and more than 1.7 million have fled the area.

Boys who are not yet teenagers have been lured into the rebel groups and are used to carry ammunition, food and other supplies before graduating to other activities.

Below, one child recounts his experience inside the rebel armies and his attempt to return to a normal childhood.

“I am Dragon Mike*, I am 17 years old and a former child soldier. Read more


Summer 2012 Job Outlook: Difficult Times for Job-Searching Teens

It’s that frightening time of year for many teenagers: school is about to let out and the search for a summer job is about to begin. Jobs for teens are an important part of youth development, providing both needed income and teaching valuable work skills. According to research in the January/Feburary 2011 issue of Child Development, teen jobs i decrease the likelihood the working teen will drop out of school—as long as teens work 20 hours or less each week during the school year—and increase future earnings [Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies].

This year–as in recent years–too many teens are competing for too few jobs. Although last year saw some improvement in the summer teen job market, the number of jobs for teens has not returned to pre-recession levels and nationally averages 24.9 percent—one in four youth who wants to work cannot find a job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, among 16- to 24-year-old workers, only 48.8 percent were employed in July 2010—the lowest rate since the government started tracking the number in 1948.

In some states, the battle to find a job is particularly tough. In California, 36.2 percent of teen workers cannot find jobs; in the District of Columbia, 51.7 percent. If one factors in the teens who have become discouraged about finding a job and who have stopped looking, nearly every state experiences a jump in their teen unemployment rates, according to the Employment Policies Institute (EPI)

“Although the jobs outlook has improved slightly for summer 2012, teens searching for summer employment are still faced with more competition and less opportunity than past generations,” said Michael Saltsman, a research fellow at the EPI.


Child Labor Coalition: Withdrawal of Occupational Child Safety Rules Will Risk Children’s Lives on Farms

For immediate release: April 30, 2012
Contact: Reid Maki, (202) 207-2820,

The 28 members of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC) and the millions of Americans they represent warn that the Department of Labor’s recent withdrawal of occupational child safety rules for agriculture will needlessly endanger children who work for wages in agriculture.

“Agriculture is by far the most dangerous industry that large numbers of teens are allowed to work in,” said Sally Greenberg, Co-Chair of the Child Labor Coalition and the Executive Director of the National Consumers League. “Nearly 100 kids are killed on farms each year. In 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12 of the 16 children under age 16 who suffered fatal occupational injuries worked in crop production. For agricultural workers age 15 to 17, the risk of fatal injury is four times the risk for young workers in other workplaces. The Department of Labor’s sensible recommendations–based on years of research indicating the jobs in which teen injuries and deaths occur–sought to protect these hired farmworkers. Unfortunately, the proposed rules fell victim to misinformation and exaggeration from the farm lobby.”

“The U.S. Labor Department has caved in to Big Agriculture and its allies in Congress to abandon the most vulnerable working children in America,” said Zama Coursen-Neff,Deputy Children’s Rights Director at CLC member Human Rights Watch. “Instead of protecting child farmworkers, the Labor Department will look the other way when children get crushed, suffocated, and poisoned on the job.”

Read more


AFOP: Withdrawal of the DOL Rules Endangers Farmworker Children

[Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs Press Release]


Withdrawal of the DOL Rules Endangers Farmworker Children

Administration Pulls Protections for Children Employed in Agriculture

April 28, 2012—Washington, D.C.—Last night the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a press release announcing the Obama Administration would be withdrawing the proposed updates to the Hazardous Orders to protect children under the age of 16 who are hired on farms.  The rules would have restricted farmworker children, aged 12 through 15, from performing work that data has shown to be especially dangerous.

“We are profoundly disappointed the Administration will not be pursuing the proposed protections for children employed in agriculture,” said David Strauss, Executive Director of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP). “These were common sense protections  that would have saved many children’s lives.”

The exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 protects the tradition of children working on their parents’ farm. In a factsheet released by the DOL, “Myth vs. Fact,” it was stated that these agricultural protections would only apply to those children involved in an employer/employee relationship. Despite this fact, in the press release issued by the DOL, it stated the withdrawal “was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms.”

Read more


Conflict and Economic Downturn Cause Global Increase in Reported Child Labor Violations- 40% of Countries now rated ‘extreme risk’ by Maplecroft

Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Philippines expose companies to high levels of supply chain risk

An annual study by risk analysis firm Maplecroft has revealed that 76 countries now pose ‘extreme’ child labour complicity risks for companies operating worldwide, due to worsening global security and the economic downturn. This constitutes an increase of more than 10% from last year’s total of 68 ‘extreme risk’ countries.

The Child Labour Index 2012 evaluates the frequency and severity of reported child labour incidents in 197 countries. Worryingly, nearly 40% of all countries have been classified as ‘extreme risk’ in the index, with conflict torn and authoritarian states topping the ranking. Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan are ranked joint first, while DR Congo (5), Zimbabwe (6), Afghanistan (7), Burundi (8), Pakistan (9) and Ethiopia (10) round off the worst performers.

The Child Labour Index has been developed by Maplecroft to evaluate the extent of country-level child labour practices and the performance of governments in preventing child labour and ensuring the accountability of perpetrators. By doing so, the index enables companies to identify risks of children being employed within their supply chains in violation of the standards on minimum age of employment. The index also analyses the risk of the involvement of children in work, the conditions of which could have a negative impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of child labourers.

Maplecroft suggests that the global increase in the use of child labour is mainly caused by a deteriorating human security situation worldwide. This has resulted in increased numbers of internally displaced children and refugees who, together with children from minority communities, continue to be the groups at most risk of economic exploitation. Sub-Saharan Africa is identified as the region posing the most risk in this respect but most of the growth economies have their own unique conditions in respect of child labour and its remediation. Read more