By ELIAS LARI
THE country has been warned to protect its children against child labour and sexual exploitation, as most of the 186 million cases in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region.
During the launching last week in Mt Hagen of the national action plan to eliminate child labour, Labour and Industrial Relations Minister Benjamin Poponawa said current laws on child labour were ineffective and must be updated.
International Labour Organisation director of the Pacific Island countries Donglin Li thanked the Government for launching its action plan “to protect the right and freedom of children”
He said of the 186 million around the world engaged in child labour, the highest number was in the Asia-Pacific region.
Li said around 85 million children were engaged in hazardous work, 5.7 million in forced and bound labour, 1.8 million in commercial sexual exploitation and 600,000 involved in other illicit activities.
“Child labour is a very serious concern and needs to be addressed,” Li said.
Li was in Mt Hagen on Thursday for the launching with Poponawa and department secretary Mary Morola.
Poponawa said current PNG laws on child labour and protection were outdated.
“We need to start working on the plan to get rid of child labour in the country, which is destroying our children,” he said.
“We have to come forward with ideas and information to make sure our children are protected.”
Morola said the plan was designed to protect children from exposure to illegal activities.
“Mt Hagen is the first province to witness the launching of the action plan and we will continue to conduct more awareness to reach other provinces to end child labour in the country,” she said.
By ELIAS LARI