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» 17.03.2010 - Reporter offered child slaves
» 17.02.2010 - Protest turns violent in Ivory Coast
» 21.12.2009 - Accusations of sexual abuse in Côte d’Ivoire probed
» 30.10.2009 - Security Council extends sanctions on Ivory Coast
» 17.08.2009 - Côte d’Ivoire wraps up polio immunisation campaign
» 27.03.2007 - Ivorian adolescents tricked by football agent
» 31.03.2005 - Côte d'Ivoire recruiting Liberian ex-child soldiers
» 14.02.2005 - Next West African cocoa harvest "without slave labour"

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Côte d'Ivoire
Human rights | Society | Labour | Economy - Development | Agriculture - Nutrition

Child labour in Ivorian cocoa farms still unchecked

Child working at a cocoa farm in Côte d'Ivoire

© Intl Labour Rights Forum
afrol News, 1 October
- The abuse of trafficked children from Mali and Burkina Faso in the vast cocoa plantations of Côte d'Ivoire keeps going on unaddressed, despite repeated promises by the chocolate industry. In Ghana, the problem is decreasing.

Ever since 2001, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA) and the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) have pledged to voluntary programmes to fight the extensive use of child labour in Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa plantations. In Côte d'Ivoire, little has happened, new research shows.

A large research effort by the US Payson Centre for International Development has been monitoring child trafficking and "worst forms of child labour" in the region for years. Its fourth annual report on child labour in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana's cocoa industry was presented yesterday.

The results are embarrassing for the industry, especially when it comes to Côte d'Ivoire.

The researchers in this report focused on the main recruitment areas of trafficked child labour for the cocoa sector; poor rural households in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Mali. They surveyed over 1,500 households and hundreds of children and youths that had worked on mostly Ivorian cocoa plantations.

The extensive survey clearly showed that Côte d'Ivoire is "the predominant destination for trafficked and migrant cocoa workers," while numbers trafficked to Ghana had become almost insignificant.

The average age of Burkinabe and Malians starting to work in Côte d'Ivoire was 15 - typically staying for 3.3 years - while the minimum working age in that country is 14. However, around 15 percent of those recruited said they were under 14 years old when first working in the Ivorian cocoa sector.

Asked how the children and youths were recruited to work on Ivorian cocoa farms, most responded that strangers had contacted them directly or through their parents. "The overwhelming majority of respondents moved to cocoa farms without their natural parents or guardians," the survey showed.

This, according to earlier studies, had made the children and youths especially vulnerable to exploitation. The children's crossing of the border to work abroad without their parents in legal terms meant th

The use of child labour on Ivorian cocoa farms is widespread

© Intl Labour Rights Forum
ey were trafficked.

This vulnerability indeed was exploited, the Malian and Burkinabe children and youths confirmed in interviews with the researchers. "Virtually all respondents experienced the worst forms of child labour including: verbal, physical and sexual harassment and restrictions of their freedom of movement," the survey found.

Their young age was also abused to make the children perform hazardous work. "Virtually all respondents performed hazardous work including land clearing and burning, carrying heavy loads, spraying pesticides, and using machetes, among other dangerous activities," the researchers found.

All in all, the recruitment of Malian and Burkinabe children to Ivorian cocoa plantations was still performed at a very large scale and by illegal means, the survey found. Also, it was documented, worst forms of child labour practices, child abuse and hazardous work was still the absolute norm of child labour on Ivorian farms.

"It is clear from this report that the cocoa industry is not doing enough to address these problems," US rights and labour organisations today stated in response to the report. "The world's largest chocolate manufacturers must do more to monitor their supply chains to combat child labour, forced labour and human trafficking," they demand in a statement.

The Payson Centre researchers conclude that too little is being achieved through the global chocolate industry's voluntary initiatives. Therefore, they recommend that companies "institute traceability systems for their cocoa supply chains starting at or near the farm level and work with product certification schemes."

"All of the certification programmes operating in the West African cocoa sector should be reviewed to ensure that they appropriately identify and address child labour issues," they recommend. The report identifies major industry actors that had already made commitments in this area, which could serve as an example, they add.

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