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Put an end to child labour

Children and Covid-19

“Child labour is not a thing of the past, but a reality for millions of children. Child labour harms children’s health, development, and education. It deprives children of their childhood and of equal opportunities in future life. On the eve of the World Day Against Child Labour (12 June) we call on all parliaments to take stronger action”, said Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzeland, SOC), PACE Rapporteur on “Eradicating extreme child poverty in Europe: an international obligation and a moral duty”.

“Disturbingly, the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide – an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years – with millions more at risk due to the impacts of Covid-19, according to a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF. More than half of them work in hazardous work, and nearly half of those children are aged between 5 and 11. Their work is primarily in agriculture, where children are exposed to chemical substances and pesticides, industry, and services. The worst cases concern slavery, child sexual abuse, criminal activities and conscription as child soldiers,” he stressed.

“It is essential to address the root causes of child labour, as it is often a result of poverty and lack of work opportunities for caregivers. The Parliamentary Assembly is strongly engaged on this topic and has already adopted a broad range of resolutions and recommendations. In June 2021, it will debate reports on “Overcoming the socio-economic crisis sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic” and on “The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children’s rights”. Reports on “Eradicating extreme child poverty in Europe: an international obligation and a moral duty” and on “Socio-economic inequalities in Europe: time to restore social trust by strengthening social rights” are currently in preparation,” he said.

“The Council of Europe member States should address the root causes of child labour; ensure adequate social protection to children and their families; and combat trafficking of children. Special attention should be given to children in vulnerable situations, such as children in migration and children with minority backgrounds. Finally, quality education should be accessible to all children, to break the cycle of poverty and exclusion,” he added.

“International conventions provide a useful framework for such action. We call on all parliaments to take urgent steps for putting into practice the International Labour Organization Convention no. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.”

“Every child deserves to live in dignity. We must eradicate child labour, both in Europe and across the world,” Pierre-Alain Fridez concluded.