TWO reports released on child labour by the US government last week fail to accurately portray conditions in Cambodia, the head of the government’s human rights committee said Tuesday.
A pair of studies released last Thursday by the US Department of Labour’s Bureau of International Labour Affairs (ILAB) cited the Kingdom as one of dozens of countries in which particularly hazardous forms of child labour, known as “worst forms”, are prevalent.
While it praised the government for making progress against child labour, ILAB also voiced criticisms of the Cambodian judicial system.
Om Yinteang, the rights committee head and an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, told the Post that while he welcomed investigations into Cambodian labour conditions, he did not believe that US researchers had depicted Cambodia’s fight against child labour fairly.
“Those who wrote this report should have come to Cambodia to investigate more deeply,” he said.
While allowing that there are small numbers of Cambodian children who are being exploited, Om Yinteang said that the government has done much to reduce this total that was not properly reflected by ILAB.
“We welcome all kinds of criticism, but it should be constructive criticism,” he said.
Joseph Menacherry, the chief technical adviser at the International Labour Organisation’s International Progamme on the Elimination of Child Labour, said that because much of the current data on the most forms of child labour comes from extrapolations of surveys conducted earlier this decade, more recent government successes against the worst forms of child labour may not be accurately reflected.
“When we talk of efforts that the government has put in, we’re really talking about the efforts since 2006,” he said.
The ILO hopes to conduct a survey soon to update the information on child labour, Menacherry said, but he added that in the meantime, it is important not to lose sight of the gains that have been made.
“This country has done a great deal on child labour; it’s really gone out of the way to focus on this issue,” he said.