Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Minister vows to combat child labour, warns NGO

Minister vows to combat child labour, warns NGO

Young workers move bricks through a factory in Kandal’s Muk Kampoul district late last month.
Young workers move bricks through a factory in Kandal’s Muk Kampoul district late last month. Pha Lina

Minister vows to combat child labour, warns NGO

The Minister of Labour yesterday launched a new action plan to combat child labour in Cambodia, but in the same breath threatened an NGO – which shed new light on the debt bondage forcing children into work – with legal action if their report was false.

Licadho’s comprehensive study, released earlier this month, found that parents indebted to brick factory owners had their children work off debts, trapping them in “modern day slavery”.

But Minister Ith Samheng, at yesterday’s launch of the National Action Plan to Combat Child Labour 2016-2025, reiterated his criticism that the NGO should have notified the authorities, rather than releasing a report. “I hope next time it could be better. I think to create such a report is not for a constructive or good purpose. I think if the report is not accurate, [they] will be faced with legal procedures,” he said.

The ministry’s director of child labour, Veng Heang, said that between 1999 and 2015, the rate of child labour in the Kingdom decreased from 16.2 percent to 8.7 percent.

“By 2025, we want for all forms of child labour to be zero, but it is just our ambition – it is difficult, but we believe we can achieve it,” Heang said.

He said under the new plan – backed by a $10 million grant gifted to World Vision by the US – regular and random inspections would be carried out at the provincial level and 24 working groups had been trained to inspect worksites.

He added the government was investigating allegations of debt bondage, and said cases of employers exploiting child labour were “rare” and that it was “confusing” to determine if a child was forced to work in dangerous conditions or if they were simply playing at their parents’ worksites.

Licadho’s Naly Pilorge said there was a vast difference between permissible forms of child work and hard child labour, and that the government must monitor for violations. She added that debt bondage was also important to address.

“Children need to go to school, have access to physical and mental development and be protected from doing hazardous and dangerous work. Debt bondage should be eradicated and prosecuted,” she said.

The plan also aims to implement laws more effectively and crack down on industries like fishing, brick factories, agriculture and mining where children are illegally employed.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Four-pillar approach in reopening of tourism: PM

    Cambodia is drawing up a four-strategy approach to promptly restore domestic and international tourism activity and put the industry on a transition pathway to a sustainable and inclusive model that is resistant to future crises, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen. The prime minister made

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Cambodian bride ‘badly treated, held captive’ by Chinese man seeks help

    A Cambodian woman who travelled to China to marry a Chinese man there was “badly treated” by her husband’s family and then had to be rescued and will be returned to Cambodia to ensure her safety. The rescue operation came about after the 25-year-old