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Ministry intensifying efforts in fight against child labour

Children pick through garbage bags, looking for scrap paper and plastic bottles that they can sell.
Children pick through garbage bags, looking for scrap paper and plastic bottles that they can sell. Hong Menea

Ministry intensifying efforts in fight against child labour

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training is intensifying its efforts to disseminate labour laws and legal documents related to child employment across Cambodia, with an emphasis on five provinces.

Ministry spokesperson Katta Orn told The Post that a working group is actively distributing the information across the provinces – Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Battambang, Tbong Khmum and Kandal, with plans to extend the outreach to additional provinces.

“Our purpose in publicising the laws is to provide employers, handicraft shop owners, parents and caregivers a clearer understanding of the legal working age for youth, terms and conditions of their employment and hygiene and health requirements, to enhance respect for child rights and protect them from exploitation,” he said on September 24. “We have also been strengthening the implementation of laws more efficiently.”

During the process, Orn noted that the ministry has consistently provided study materials, bicycles and other essentials to ensure that minors under the age of 15, especially those at brick kilns and agricultural factories, can continue their studies.

Additionally, youths aged 15 and over will be removed from production chains and enrolled in technical skills training for four to six months, subsequently receiving job opportunities. After the training, Orn said, labour departments in the target provinces would assist in job placement.

The ministry has also expressed its commitment to implementing the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labour and the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, aligning with 2016-25 policies and various national strategies in addressing the issue.

Despite these efforts, Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, claimed that illegalities persist, particularly in kiln foundries. He noted that children continue to work in some of these facilities to earn hourly wages, as their parents seek to maximise income.

“Therefore, the ministry needs to tighten the implementation of laws against owners who employ underage workers and punish them as the statutes define,” Ath said.

He stressed that the ministry’s ongoing work is crucial in raising awareness among parents, employers and workers at brick forges about the criminality of using child labour.


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