In Fiji more than 500 children are involved in the worst form of child labour according to a December 2010 summary of reports from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The work includes commercial sexual exploitation of children, drug trafficking, begging and hazardous work where children under the age of 15 are involved.
On World Day against Child Labour Fiji’s Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni said the issue of child labour was a challenging one and needed to be addressed collaboratively by government, non-government organisations (NGOs), child advocates, schools, communities and individuals.
On the same day Fiji Ministry of Labour northern mediator, Sadrugu Ramagimagi, speaking at the in Labasa, suggested not all work done by children is child labour. He said work becomes child labour when the nature of the task deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity and is harmful to their physical and mental development.
Ramagimagi said legitimate forms of work that children could participate in “include activities such as helping their parents around the home, assisting in a family business or earning pocket money outside school hours and during school holidays”.
And in Lautoka West Police Commander SSP Salacieli Naivilawasa said the police are working closely with the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education and non-governmental organisations in the fight against child labour.
He said that with the assistance of these organisations, children were being given their basic right to education. “In a situation where the child is not willing to go back to school who is 15 years and above, these children can be registered and trained under the National Employment Centre.”
Naivilawasa labour inspectors had the power in law to enforce the minimum age of employment, which was 15 years. “Those who violate this law can face a fine from $10,000 for individuals to a maximum of $50,000 for corporations.”