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ECOWAS Parliament commits to eradicating child labor in W/Africa

By Reporter

May 18, 2023

Abuja, Nigeria -With 152 children forced into child labor across the globe according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report, the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has committed to eradicating child labor in the sub-region.

Second Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Sani Malam Boukari, said that the ECOWAS Parliament have through different programmes ensured that the rights of the child are protected, preserved and promoted at all costs, at all levels and at all times.

Boukari made this known at the follow-up joint workshop organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the ILO in collaboration with the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja with the theme “Eradication of Child Labor: Taking Stock and Sustaining the Commitments of the ECOWAS Parliament”.

Boukari however lamented the lack of political will to completely eradicating the challenge in the region, with more cases of child labor in different forms emerging by the year.

“The fact that we are still subject to this challenge 34 years later is quite discouraging and testifies to the lack of political will for the development and well-being of our children whom we pretentiously call future leaders.

“I say pretentiously because the way we treat them and the things we say about them are extremely opposite”.

“It is common knowledge that child neglect is the most common form and also the major cause of violation of children's rights.

“Thus, the needs of children are compromised with the effect of the abandonment and denial of the right to dignity, health and education or insufficient protection and care. This neglect then forces children to engage in activities that threaten their health, education and development.”

Boukari said that as part at the regional commitment, during the 2023 First Ordinary Ordinary Session, the ECOWAS Commission submitted for opinion to the ECOWAS Parliament, a draft Regulation adopting the ECOWAS regional action plan on the elimination of child labor and forced labor.

He said that the ECOWAS Parliament has made it its duty to receive and deliberate on the country reports presented by the national delegations of the Member States during ordinary sessions.

“These reports he says provide an overview of the human rights situation in the sub-region, including children's rights. Parliament then follows up or refers to the appropriate institution if necessary.

Mr Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the IPU said that the issue of children's rights in general, and more specifically that of child trafficking and child labour which is a violation of these rights must be included among the region’s priority actions.

Chungong said that concerted efforts must be devoted to eradicating these scourges, and most importantly ending poverty, the root cause.

He said that “Indeed, children should not be in cocoa plantations, they should not be breaking stones in quarries, they should not be engaged in life threatening activities, they should be in school preparing for a brighter future which should be the legitimate aspiration of every child”.

Chungong said that child trafficking and child labour, especially in the African region, undermine social structures, by taking children away from their families compromise economic development, and threaten the future of our children, the life forces of tomorrow.

“It is also an occasion for us to advocate for the strengthening of intersectoral cooperation, in order to broaden the hostile environment for child traffickers through concerted and harmonized actions.

“In short, the pooling of experiences, consultation with a view to harmonised strategies, national legislation that is equally stringent, national policies for the care of victims of trafficking and the promotion of children's rights.

“And measures to promote income-generating activities to relieve parents from the grip of poverty, including the granting of credit with easier procedures, are all issues that can be discussed in the framework of a regional forum such as the ECOWAS Parliament.

He assured of IPU’s support to the efforts of ECOWAS Institutions to combat the scourges, which can irreparably damage the future of the children who fall victim to them.

The follow-up joint workshop precedes the first joint workshops held in 2016 and 2018, also on the eradication of child labor.

The Humanitarian Post

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