ISLAMABAD, May 29: As many as 3 million children under the age 14 years are involved in child labour in Pakistan, an ILO official Deepa Rishikesh said here on Wednesday.

She was speaking at a tripartite consultation workshop ‘Review of Selected Labour Laws with reference to ILO Conventions focusing on Child Labour, Forced Labour, Freedom of Association and Reporting on international labour standards’. Coordinator child labour and forced labour conventions, international labour standards department Ms. Deepa said that children at this age should be in schools instead.

It is against international conventions to involve children at this young age in labour, especially hazardous labour, she said.

To a question whether ILO can punish a country not conforming to international labour laws, she replied in negative and said ILO can only train, create awareness and enhance capacity of people associated with inspection and implementation of labour laws.

There is no mechanism, no provision for penalizing the erring countries, she added.

She said that keeping in view the socio-economic conditions in Pakistan, all forms of child labour cannot be eradicated instantly but efforts should be made to reduce and slowly eliminate it. All stake-holders including government, employees, employers, parents, labour organizations, trade unions should play their role in this regard, she urged.

Mr Deepa said that child labour perpetuated poverty in a family and the child should instead receive an education to get out of this cycle of adversity. She also talked about worst forms of child labour like children working in brick kilns, mines; children working as scavengers, those working at nights, children used in armed conflicts etc. Strenuous efforts should be made to abolish such kind of child labour.

Participants of the consultation noted that the basic flaws lay in implementation of labour laws.

Enforcement of labour laws must be made more effective, which alone can eliminate child labour and solve other labour issues, they demanded. —Staff Reporter

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