The world day against child labour that comes up every 12 June was introduced to raise awareness on the dangers involved in exposing young children to work.
The International Labour Organisation in conjunction with the United Nations have detailed a number of practices that identify situations of child endangerment and recommend that governments take the lead in upholding the safety and health of the child.
In Cameroon, government has been very keen on issues concerning children.
The 12th June commemoration was pushed ahead to allow time for stakeholders to rally forces especially after the 16th June Day of the African child commemoration.
Cameroon’s Minister of Labour and Social Security discussed the remarkable progress registered in combating child labour especially in urban areas.
In an interview, Minister Gregroire Owona stated that children below the age of fourteen are officially not allowed to engage in unsupervised work task.
He decried the fact that child labour is perceived as a cultural practice in some parts of Cameroon.
Hawking and farm work involving very young children for example is common practice in both rural and urban areas.
Although there are no defined tasks attributed to specific age range, he exhorted parents to assign to children only tasks that can conveniently be carried out by the child.
He insisted that the rights of the child are protected by Cameroon’s penal laws.
To enforce the international laws protecting the rights of children, the Minister of Labour and Social Security affirmed that committees have been deployed on the field to monitor child abuse and defaulters are punished by law.
A United States Child Labour and Forced Labour Report on Cameroon salutes efforts made by government in fighting child and forced labour. The report reads;
“In 2016, Cameroon made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour. The Government passed a new Penal Code, which incorporated elements of the 2011 Anti-Trafficking Law; launched a $12 million Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program; and negotiated the identification and repatriation of 14 girls who were trafficked to Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates for forced labor in domestic work.”
Cameroon’s Minister of Labour and Social Security Gregroire Owona reiterates that government is strongly resolved to crackdown on practices that expose the young child.
The Minister warns that all individuals and institutions that break the rules will face the wrath of the law.
Bruno Ndonwie Funwie