‘Lets work to protect our children’

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Lautafi Fio Purcell

Remarks at launch of Rapid Assessment Survey on Children Working on the Streets in Apia.

I am pleased to welcome you all this evening to the launching of the Samoa Report on the Rapid Assessment Survey on Children Working on the Streets in Apia.

As Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, and also for the Samoa National Tripartite Forum (S.N.T.F.), I applaud this report which provides a platform that identifies the current situation of street vendors in Samoa, mainly in the town area of Apia. 

The report also responded to the need for data and information on child labour in Samoa. To complement the Rapid Assessment findings and the recommendations from stakeholders, a scoping exercise was also conducted in Savaii with parents and members of the community. 

The findings of the scoping exercise have been shared widely with stakeholders and are also attached to this Report. In 2016, the final validation exercise for the Child Labour Rapid Assessment in Apia, was completed and was approved by the Samoa National Tripartite Forum. 

Among the findings of the Rapid Assessment which is a major concern is the number of children who have preferred dropping out of school to work at a very young age. Secondly are the vulnerabilities and risks of child vendors being exposed to abuse, crime and potential involvement in illegal activities is also a major concern.

I can confirm also that 2 weeks ago, Cabinet has endorsed the report and strongly encourages and urge all relevant agencies and organizations under their respective mandates to implement the recommendations from the report.

Subsequently I understand collaborative interventions between the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour; and the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development in partnership with stakeholders and development partners have taken first steps towards addressing some of the recommendations from the report.

• Such as 

1. Providing awareness on the responsibility of Businesses to conditions for employment of children under the Labour and Industrial Relations Act 2013 (LERA); and positive enforcement through regular monitoring and on-going dialogue with employers and employees.

2. The development of the light work list applicable to Samoa’s context.

3. The provision of training and counselling services to some parents                         

                  with street vendors in Apia under the ‘Supporting Samoa Children 

                  Initiatives, Children who are Vending’ programme which was 

                  launched in December 2016. 

 

4.  Progressing the work of the Taskforce on Child Vending; and the 

                  work of the Samoa Interim Child Labour Working Group that was   

                  formed by the participants of the constituents during the ILO Child 

                  labour training in Fiji, 2015.

These joint efforts aim at ensuring that our children have access to quality education as an important prerequisite for secured well paid employment in the future.  

Furthermore the report compliments the country’s commitment and obligations as a member state of the ILO and the eight ILO Fundamental Conventions that Samoa have ratified.

In saying that I acknowledge the strong partnership, technical support and on-going commitment from the International Labour Organization and all development partners which compliments national efforts through the respective Government ministries, Employers and Workers groups who are at the forefront in addressing the fight against child labour.

This strong partnership is a very important ingredient to ensuring that children’s right to education and freedom from any forms of child labour remains a priority in accordance with national and international standards. I would like to thank all the working children who bravely participated in the research and the officials and representatives from all agencies and organizations who tirelessly worked to identify and interview children.

Such an approach also reaffirms the necessary support to all the constituents through the project “Building regional efforts for eliminating the worst forms of child labour and trafficking in Pacific Island Countries” also an ILO Pacific sub-regional child labour and trafficking project which expanded on the actions of the Tackling Child Labour through Education (TACKLE) global project funded by the European Union. 

The Government is fully committed to its International Obligations under the Conventions and it is bound by International Laws in fulfilling our obligations in Protecting the Rights Of Children.

I am the Minister responsible for Labour laws in Samoa. I will ensure that our country is protected from International ridicule, our government is Protected and most of all - OUR CHILDREN are PROTECTED. 

In closing the report paves the pathway to understanding the circumstances surrounding child vendor in our country. However I challenge you all to ACTION and to effectively implement the 10 RECOMENDATIONS from this report, otherwise it will be just another study and report for reference, let’s not wait for more similar reports, this report is enough to act on.

Lets work together. 

Lets act together to protect our children,

Protect our country’s future.

© Samoa Observer 2016

Developed by Samoa Observer in Apia