Tag Archive for: fishing


CLC Joins other NGOs in Applauding Downgrade of Thailand in 2014 Trafficking Report Rankings

Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding Thailand’s downgrade in the 2014 TIP Report
Publication Date:
June 20, 2014

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We write today to applaud the U.S. State Department’s decision to downgrade Thailand to Tier 3 in the 2014 Global Trafficking in Persons Report. This decision is justified and an important step in international efforts to persuade the Royal Thai Government to begin making the difficult, but necessary, changes needed to bring themselves into compliance with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

We also believe the Tier 3 ranking, as well as the research and recommendations contained in the report, will be an important informational tool for international and Thai institutions, companies and investors that continue to press Thai authorities to move beyond their current approach. It comes at an opportune time. In the last year, reports from, CNN, BBC, Reuters, The Associated Press and The Guardian have drawn unprecedented attention to the issue. To truly make sufficient progress in addressing human trafficking, the Thai Government should implement reforms in the areas highlighted both in the 2013 TIP Report and our last letter to you. These reforms have been repeatedly recommended by the U.S. State Department, other governments, NGOs, trade unions, and international bodies: improving victim identification and protection; fighting corruption; reforming immigration policies; and revising labor laws.

Given these priorities, we believe the United States should also emphasize to Thailand the importance of ratifying the International Labour Organization’s new legally-binding protocol to Convention 29 on Forced Labor in its upcoming discussions with the Thai Government. If Thailand were to ratify the protocol and bring its laws into compliance, it would help address many of the issues above, and be an important tool for those on the ground working to bring justice to victims of human trafficking. The United States should also press Thailand to amend the Labor Relations Act of 1975 to allow non-Thai nationals to organize and lead labor unions, and participate in collective bargaining, so that migrant workers would be in a better position to defend themselves against exploitative employers, and ratify ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize) and 98 (Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining).

We thank you for your efforts at combating human trafficking, as well as the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; the Ambassador at Large and Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; the East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for your ongoing efforts to raise these issues with your counterparts and bring about the change needed on the ground to prevent human trafficking in Thailand.

American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Child Labor Coalition (CLC)
Fairfood International
Fair World Project
Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA)
Green America
Human Rights Watch
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF)
National Consumers League (NCL)
Slave Free Seas
Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Uniting Church in Australia


10 Facts about Child Labor in Lake Volta’s Fishing Industry:

  • In Ghana, one in six children aged 6 to 14 are involved in child labor; 2.3 percent of them work in fishing.
  • NGOs estimate that 4,000 to 10,000 children are trafficked and enslaved on Lake Volta at any time.
  • Persistent poverty greatly contributes to the issue of child labor in the Lake Volta fishing industry. Many families in Ghana are unable to afford the fees for school uniforms and books, and in many communities learning a trade is considered a viable alternative to schooling.
  • Children as young as four years old are trafficked to work as bonded laborers in Ghana’s fishing industry.
  • Parents who give their children to traffickers often believe that, in exchange for the small sum of money they receive, the child will have the opportunity to learn a trade.
  • The tasks children are involved in include paddling boats, hauling nets, diving underwater to untangle nets, or working as domestic laborers in the homes of fishermen.
  • Children work long hours for no pay; do not attend school; and are often malnourished, sleep deprived, and treated abusively.
  • Drowning and contracting water-borne diseases, like bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and guinea worm (dracunculiasis), are some of the hazards of this form of child labor.
  • The work violates Ghana’s own laws regulating child labor and education. It also violates standards set by the International Labor Organization’s Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (C182) and Minimum Age Convention (C138), as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child—all which Ghana has ratified.
  • In 2010, the Government of Ghana adopted a National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Ghana.


Compiled July, 2013




By Sharon L. Fawcett, CLC Intern

For a small sum of money, James Kofi Annan’s father handed him over to a child trafficker when he was just six years old. Born into a family in Ghana with 12 children, there was no money for school uniforms and books. So instead of gaining an academic education, James would learn the painful lessons of the enslaved, in Ghana’s fishing villages.

Sold by his trafficker to a Lake Volta fisherman, James worked 17 hours per day, enduring constant physical and emotional abuse. When displeased, his master often withheld food, beat him with a paddle, or threw him in the lake.

Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest man-made lakes, was created by the construction of Ghana’s Askombo dam in the 1960s. Although the lake provided a bountiful supply of fish for many years, fish stocks have been declining in recent years, making it more difficult for fishermen to earn a living. Children provide a cheap source of labor and their tiny fingers prove useful for picking the fish that are captured in the nets’ webbing, as the holes get increasingly smaller to catch smaller fish.

Poster, Fisher of Kids


The children trafficked to work in Ghana’s fishing industry as bonded laborers are as young as four years of age. Their tasks may include paddling boats, hauling nets, or performing domestic labor in the homes of fishermen. Like James Kofi Annan, these children work long hours for no pay; do not attend school; and are often malnourished, sleep deprived, and treated abusively. Nets often get snagged on submerged tree branches and children forced to dive underwater to free them risk water-borne diseases and drowning.

According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), 60 percent of the world’s 215 million child laborers work in the agricultural sector—comprising activities in agriculture, livestock-raising, forestry, and fishing. In Ghana, one in six children aged six to 14 are involved in child labor. Eighty-eight percent of them work on farms; another 2.3 percent in fishing.

Work that is likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children is categorized as hazardous by the ILO. This is the kind of work Lake Volta’s child fishers are exposed to, among the “worst forms of child labor.”

Ghana has ratified several international conventions that establish standards to protect children from exploitative work, including the ILO’s Minimum Age Convention (C138) and the Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention (C182). It also has national laws restricting child labor, but the laws are not vigorously enforced. The minimum age for work in Ghana is 15 years; 18 years for hazardous work. However, the practice of children working is commonly accepted in Ghanaian society.

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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.

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At the Deep End: Child Labor in Fisheries

from Malaya Business Insight, PHILIPPINES

FILIPINO children work in extremely hazardous fisheries.

The most notorious and extremely dangerous of deep sea jobs is in muro-ami which employs children as swimmers and divers using nets to fish in reefs.

Called reef hunters, they dive for fish or free snagged nets. The perception is that their smaller bodies are better for diving deeper and that their fingers are nimble to hook and unhook nets.

The job is called by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) extremely hazardous child labor in a country where, it estimates, as much as 5 percent of children work in fisheries.

Child divers risk ear damage, injuries from falls, shark attacks, snake bites and drowning, says the International Labor Organization (ILO). Read more