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Union parliament approves treaty to abolish child labour

The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Assembly of the Union) has approved Myanmar’s ratification of an international treaty to abolish child labour in the country, but some legislators doubt the government’s ability to implement it.

The Minimum Age Convention (138) of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which includes the abolition of child labour, was approved on Tuesday.

The convention has 18 articles and aims to abolish child labour, support economic development, and provide job opportunities consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young people, according to Labour, Immigration and Population Minister Thein Swe.

According to a government survey conducted in 2015, there are about 1.12 million child workers in Myanmar between the ages of 5 and 17. The minimum age range for child workers is 13 to 15 under Convention 138.

But undeveloped countries, including Myanmar, are allowed to lower the age limit to 12 to 14.

Daw Tin Tin Win, MP for constituency 5 in Bago Region in the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House), said ratification of the convention is useless if the government does not have the resources to implement it. “What can we do if children five to 13 are being forced to work? Who will be in charge of enforcement?” she asked. Daw Tin Tin Win said poverty and lack of knowledge are the main reasons parents force their children as young as five to work.

“The parents do not know the bad consequences of forcing them to work at an early age,” she said.

U Nay Kyaw said the government has been unable to implement the Convention on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (182), which it signed in 2013.

Daw Khin Soe Soe Kyi, MP of Pyay township, Bago Region, urged the government to ensure that children have equal rights from birth, regardless of race or living conditions.

The country has yet to enact a law to protect child workers. Child labour cases are tried under the Shops and Establishments Act, Factories Act, 2014 Education Law, and 2019 Child Rights Law. The minimum age prescribed by the country’s Child Rights Law conforms to the ILO provision, and the law prescribes workplace safety and health benefits for working children. Translated

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