The government on Friday finalized guidelines aimed at reducing the number of children who work in the fisheries sector and do not attend school, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the NGO World Vision said in a statement.
World Vision said the guidelines, which it helped create, are ready for approval by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Labor.
“We are very happy with the guidelines, because they spell out that there is hazardous and dangerous work in the fisheries sector that children should not engage in,” Imelda Ochavillo, director of World Vision’s project on the elimination of exploitive child labor, said on Friday.
Children, she said, should not be involved in fishing without a guardian, in the evenings when they are meant to be sleeping, or in deep waters. They should also not have to lift heavy materials. Besides the health risks, Ms. Ochavillo said that by working in the fishing industry, many children are also deprived of education.
“They are supposed to hold books and pens, and not fishing gear,” she said.
Light work that does not exceed four hours per week, however, is considered an opportunity for children, according to the guidelines.
“The work can also be an opportunity for their development. Any work that is regulated allows character development and helps children to see the value of work,” Ms. Ochavillo said.
The guidelines also stipulate fines, and labor inspectors will be tasked to make sure they are in place.
Nao Touk, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Administration, said the fisheries sector was in need of such guidelines regarding child workers.
“While child labor in the fishery industry is found to have a high effect on the physical and moral development of children…we noticed that no specific and practical guideline or declaration on this sector has been created yet,” he said in a statement Friday.
A 2012 study on child labor by the National Institute of Statistics, the Ministry of Planning and the International Labor Organization found one out of 10 children worked in a way that violates Cambodian laws or international conventions that Cambodia has ratified.
© 2014, Denise Hruby. All rights reserved.