ILO Seeks ECOWAS Support in Ratification of Convention on Child Labour

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By Alex Enumah

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called on the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support and encourage member states in the region to ratify various international instruments particularly, Convention 189 of the ILO on Domestic Work in order to address the issue of Child Labour in the region.

The organisation also urged the ECOWAS MPs to give necessary support to agencies and institutions spearheading the fight against child labour and trafficking as part of their contributions to completely eradicate the menace in the sub region.

Workers Specialist and Representative of the Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Liaison Office for ECOWAS, Mr. David Dorkenoo, specifically wants parliament support in the area of resources and legislation that would enhance prosecution of suspects engaged in child labour and trafficking to serve as deterrent to others. He made the appeal Friday in Abuja, at the opening of ‘ECOWAS Parliament Workshop on Enhancing Mobilisation against Child Trafficking and Labour: Parliament Contribution’.

“The two important ILO Conventions on Child Labour are conventions 138 on Minimum Age and Convention 182 on eliminating the worst forms of child labour. Another relevant Convention is Convention 189 on Domestic Work. This has only been ratified by only one country in West Africa which is Guinea Conakry, though its implementation is slow. I would therefore like to use this opportunity to appeal to honourable members to support and encourage their respective states to ratify Convention 189 on Domestic Work and other relevant conventions,” he said.

Dorkenoo noted that the issue of child labour, forced labour, and human trafficking are security, development and humanitarian challenges which require coordinated and concerted efforts to eliminate.

He disclosed that globally about 218m children between the ages of five – 17 years were in employment, with 152 among this figure being victims of child labour. He went on to say that about 73 million of these children work in hazardous child labour.

He said, “One major challenge we have observed with Africa and for that matter within the ECOWAS region is the fact many of our countries have very good legislations, however, the average number of convictions still remains very low in Africa.”

To remedy the situation, he called for the enactment of appropriate legislation and allocation of national resources to national institutions dealing with child labour issues.

While poverty and unemployment are blamed for the rise in child labour, ECOWAS was called upon to address the issue of Decent Work because when parents receive Decent Income they can adequately take care of their children.