Samoa shamed in ‘worst forms of child labour’ report

By Joyetter Luamanu ,

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A member of the public took these photos last week. The photo shows young street vendors and work – including a toddler sleeping outside a store at Vaitele. Photo: Felise Maika Facebook.

A member of the public took these photos last week. The photo shows young street vendors and work – including a toddler sleeping outside a store at Vaitele. Photo: Felise Maika Facebook.

Samoa has been named as one of the countries with some of the “worst forms of child labour” by the United States Bureau of International Labour Affairs. 

The finding is contained in a six-page report released last September. A copy of the report obtained by the Samoa Observer highlights the fact that children in Samoa perform “dangerous tasks” such as street vending at all hours of night and day.

“In 2016, Samoa made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour,” the report reads. 

“The Government ratified two United Nations optional protocols on child labor and increased funding for the Samoa School Fee Relief Grant Scheme to enhance access to basic education for all children. 

“In addition, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor endorsed the findings of a study that provides information on children working on the streets in Apia, Samoa. 

“However, children in Samoa perform dangerous tasks in street vending.” 

According to the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the Samoa Government lacks a mechanism to coordinate interagency efforts to address child labor.

The report further points out that “Samoan laws do not comprehensively specify the types of hazardous work prohibited for children.” 

According to the prevalence and sectoral distribution of child labor section, children in Samoa perform dangerous tasks in street vending. 

The table on statistics on children’s work and education indicates that children working are those in the ages of five to 14 as well as those attending school. 

“Source for primary completion rate; date from 2015 published by U.N.E.S.C.O. Institutes for Statistics 2016.” 

The report says the Samoa Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms. 

“However, gaps in labor law and criminal law enforcement remain and some enforcement information is not available.

The Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement are Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and

Labor (M.C.I.L.) who investigate complaints of child labor law violations.

They refer cases to the Ministry of Police and the Office of the Attorney General for enforcement, also the Ministry of Police Enforce criminal laws related to child labor.

The Ministry for Women, Community, and Social Development they assist in M.C.I.L. investigations as needed. 

“Mandated to protect children, including those working on the street are the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture Assist in M.C.I.L. investigations, as needed.”

The report that was obtained by the Samoa Observer further says that although the Samoa Government has established the Samoa Interpol and Transnational Crime Unit to coordinate efforts to monitor human trafficking, research found no evidence of mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor. 

The Government has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms. 

“The National Policy for Children in Samoa, which aimed to address the issue of child labor in street vending, expired in 2015 and is currently undergoing review. 

“The Government has not integrated child labor elimination and prevention strategies in the Strategy for the Development of Samoa, the U.N.D.A.F. Pacific, or the Education Sector Plan,” says the Bureau of International Labor Affairs. 

Regarding social program to address child labor, the report says that in 2016, the Government funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor. 

The report says that a Samoa Decent Work Country Program was established between 2013 and 2016 where I.L.O. and government promoted decent work in Samoa, supported legal reform and improved implementation of laws related to child labor, and promoted access to information and employment services for youth. 

There was also the Pacific Sub-Regional Child Labor and Trafficking Program. 

“The I.L.O. supported programs to address child labor issues through awareness raising, research, and government capacity building activities. 

“In 2016, finalised the Samoa Rapid Assessment on Children Working on the Streets, which was submitted to the Samoa National Tri-Partite Committee and endorsed by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor and this program is funded by the Government of Samoa.

“Research found no evidence of programs to specifically address child labor in the service sector, especially in street vending,” says the Bureau of International Labor Affairs. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

Developed by Samoa Observer in Apia