By Asmau Ahmad
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) are collaborating to ensure the protection of child’s rights in the region.
The Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, Dr Sidie Tunis, made this known at the joint IPU and International Labour Organisation (ILO) session on child labour on Thursday in Abuja.
He said during the event with theme ‘Eradication of Child Labour: Taking Stock and Sustaining the Commitment of the ECOWAS Parliament’ that the partnership also included preserving and promoting child’s rights.
Tunis, represented by the second Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Boukary Chaibou said that since the inauguration of the fifth legislature, concerted efforts by IPU and partners on child labour was being strengthened.
He noted that child labour could be complex to establish as not all functions performed by children can be described as hard labour.
He said that child neglect was the most common form of abuse and has been noted to be the leading cause of children’s vulnerability to infringement of their rights.
“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,” he said.
He said that instruments have been designed to ensure the protection of the child such as the ILO Conventions No.138 and No.182.
He said the provisions determine the minimum age for admission, employment and the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour by states parties.
He expressed concern on the low political will of leaders on child labour, describing it as discouraging.
He however restated the parliament’s commitment to deliberate on reports on child labour presented by the national delegations of the member states during ordinary sessions for appropriate action.
“These reports 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,” he said.
The speaker also said that all 15 ECOWAS member states have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child.
Also speaking at the session, the Secretary-General of the IPU, Mr Martin Chungong called for the protection of child rights saying that addressing child trafficking and labour should be given priority.
Martin reiterated IPU’s readiness in supporting ECOWAS in its efforts to combat child labour.