MCRB Presents on Child Labour Issues at the Launch of Report on the Myanmar Fishing Sector
Japanese NGO Human Rights Now launched a report on Child Labour in the Myanmar Fishing Sector on 17 October in Yangon and held a discussion with around 20 participants from Myanmar and international non-governmental organisations specialized in children’s rights, fishing industry experts and trade unionists.
The report examines the practices, conditions, and causes of child labour in Myanmar’s fishing sector, as well as Myanmar’s relevant legal duties. It makes recommendations to foreign states and companies doing business with the Myanmar fishing sector.
At the event, Hnin Wut Yee from MCRB presented MCRB’s work on children’s rights and business including the 2017 Briefing Paper on “Children’s Rights and Business”. Hnin provided an overview of the child labour situation in Myanmar, international standards for fisheries exports, particularly those concerning child labour and highlighted recommendations to businesses on identifying, avoiding, mitigating and remediating human rights impacts on children, and in particular child labour.
Participants at the event shared their own initiatives concerning child labour and discussed challenges and how to overcome them. They highlighted the urgent need to adopt an updated Law on Childrens’ Rights, a draft of which is currently being discussed in Parliament. Currently there is no legal minimum age for children outside of factories and shops/establishments. It is hoped that a new Children’s Rights Law can fill this gap. Furthermore it was noted that a list of hazardous work not permitted for Young Workers (those aged 14-18) or children is also supposed to be published by the government following enactment of the Children’s Rights Law.
Also discussed was Myanmar government’s current reforms to labour law taking place with the support of ILO. Gaps in Myanmar’s legal framework mean that businesses, both Myanmar and foreign, need to ensure that their operations, supply chains and business relationships avoid child labour. This involves human rights due diligence to identify risks of child labour, and developing remediation mechanisms if child labour is found in their operations.
The ILO’s Myanmar Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (My-PEC), a four-year project (2014-2017) funded by the US Department of Labour, is endeavoring to establish a comprehensive, inclusive and efficient multi-stakeholder response to reducing child labour in Myanmar by increasing awareness and knowledge about child labour, improving legislation and strengthen national and local capacity to address child labour in compliance with international standards. The project also seeks to improve the capacity of national and local networks and advocates to reduce child labour in target communities through direct interventions.