See also:
» 01.03.2011 - No money to stop Ghana child trafficking
» 28.09.2010 - Ghana constitution review engages citizens
» 17.07.2008 - Convicted UK teens freed in Ghana
» 28.01.2008 - Ghana shuns labour standard
» 10.01.2008 - Teens sentence deferred again
» 21.11.2007 - UK teens guilty of Ghana drug smuggling
» 14.02.2005 - Next West African cocoa harvest "without slave labour"
» 08.12.2004 - Ghana re-registers birth of refugee children

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Human rights | Society | Labour

"Child labour still prevalent in Ghana"

afrol News, 13 June - Ghanaian rights organisations warn that, despite efforts to fight child labour in the country, around 20 percent of the nation's children are engaged in labour. The problem is a lack of sufficient labour inspectors, or inspectors doing a poor job, they hold.

The Accra-based Legal Resource Centre yesterday sent out a "reminder" to Ghanaians and investors, saying they should not believe the battle against child labour in Ghana had been won. In spite of "seeming progress, child labour is still prevalent in Ghana today," the group says.

The government of Ghana has passed several laws and signed a number of treaties to guard against exploitative forms of child labour. Article 28 of the 1992 Constitution prohibits labour that is considered injurious to the health, education, or development of the child. Ghana has also signed three key international treaties that ban certain practices of child labour.

Additionally, Ghana has passed its own laws on child labour. This includes the Children's Act of 1998 and the Labour Act of 2003, both of which address child labour in detail. The Children's Act bans all exploitative labour and echoes the 1992 Constitution's prohibition by defining this type of labour as that which denies a child of health, education or development. The Act additionally bans a number of child labour practices that it lists as "hazardous".

"These laws are a strong start," the rights centre's Dzifa Ami Gakpleazi says. But despite this, "all forms of exploitative labour continue to persist in Ghana," Ms Gakpleazi adds.

An estimated total of 1,273,294 - or 20 percent - of all children in Ghana are engaged in child labour, and 242,047 of those are in hazardous forms of child labour, according to the group. "These facts are extremely disappointing not just because of the hard reality that exists for child labourers in Ghana, but also because the laws to protect them have already been passed," Ms Gakpleazi says.

"The fact that we have acknowledged this responsibility as a country and still continue to avoid tackling the problem headlong makes this situation more troubling," the group adds. "If we are not noticing, reporting, or enforcing these infractions, then our well thought out laws are nothing but meaningless pieces of paper put together."

The Legal Resources Centre holds that more and better labour inspectors must be put in place to address the problem. "We either need a far greater number of labour inspectors or the current labour inspectors must do a better job. The status quo is unacceptable. Labour inspectors must be made accountable. When problems continue to exist in regions, the labour inspectors of those specific areas must be evaluated and held accountable."

Further, the group holds that government must make prosecutions of violators a priority. "Serious government funding for a children's desk at the Attorney General's office is needed," they recommend. "Such a desk or division could use the power of the office and coordinate with other programmes and projects focusing their energy on issues relating to the protection of children."

However, many of the root causes of child labour go beyond detection and enforcement, Ms Gakpleazi admits. "Poverty, lack of economic opportunities, social mobilisation, and other macroeconomic and demographic issues are all major factors. But this does not mean that we should forgo improvements in the enforcement of the law."

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