BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Children in St. Kitts and Nevis now have an added layer of protection from any exploitation through work that deprives them of their childhood with the recent signing of the Declaration on the Establishment of the Regional Initiative: Latin America and the Caribbean Free of Child Labour.
The ‘Declaration to Protect Children From Exploitation Through Work,’ was signed on Oct. 4 by Senior Minister and Minister of Labour, the Honourable Vance Amory, during the 19th American Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Panama.
According to the ILO, the term “child labour” is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.
The term refers to “work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and interferes with their schooling by: depriving them of the opportunity to attend school; obliging them to leave school prematurely; or requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.”
The organization expresses however, that “it is important to note that not all work done by children should be classified as child labour that is to be targeted for elimination. Children’s’ or adolescent’s participation in work that does not affect their health and personal development or interfere with their schooling, is generally regarded as being something positive. This includes activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays. These kinds of activities contribute to children’s development and to the welfare of their families; they provide them with skills and experience, and help to prepare them to be productive members of society during their adult life.”
It adds that “hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are engaged in work that deprives them of adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms, violating their rights.
Of these children, more than half are exposed to the worst forms of child labour such as work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, as well as involvement in armed conflict.”
The ILO launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 as a way to highlight the plight of these children. The day, which is observed on June 12, is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour, reflected in the huge number of ratifications of ILO Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention No. 138 on the minimum age for employment.
The World Day Against Child Labour provides an opportunity to gain further support of individual governments and that of the ILO social partners, civil society and others, including schools, youth and women’s groups, as well as the media in the campaign against child labour.
In 2005, St. Kitts and Nevis ratified the ILO Child Conventions: the C182 Worst Form of Child Labour in 2000 and the C138 Minimum Age.