Act against child labour, rights body says

Geneva : Governments should better regulate businesses to prevent child labour in global supply chains, Human Rights Watch said in a video released on Monday.

The report comes in advance of the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12. Child labour in global supply chains is the theme for the World Day in 2016.

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Millions of children risk pain, sickness, injury and even death to produce goods and services for the global economy.

Human Rights Watch has documented hazardous child labour in agriculture, mining, the leather and apparel industry as well as other sectors.

“Consumers usually have no way of knowing whether the food they eat, the clothing and jewellery they wear, or other products they buy were made with child labour,” said Jo Becker at Human Rights Watch. “Companies shouldn’t profit from the exploitation of children.”

The video features children working in gold mines in the Philippines and Tanzania, weaving carpets in Afghanistan, and toiling in tobacco fields in the US and agricultural settlements in the West Bank.

In today’s global economy, businesses often rely on complicated supply chains.

Raw materials may be produced in multiple countries, processed or assembled into finished goods in another, and consumed in markets across the globe.

Children may be exploited at any stage of the supply chain, but child labour is most common in the early stages of production.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 168 million children are involved in child labour globally, including 85 million who are engaged in hazardous work that jeopardizes their health or safety.

Tanneries in Bangladesh, which export more than $1 billion worth of leather each year, often employ children, some as young as 11. Some have fallen ill from exposure to hazardous chemicals and have been injured in horrific workplace accidents.