Sat, 27 Jul 1996

Indonesia urged to ratify ILO convention on child labor

JAKARTA (JP): The Second National Conference on Child Labor in Indonesia ended yesterday with a call to ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention no. 138 as a presidential decree, Antara reported.

Without the ratification of the document, which determines the minimum working age for children, differences as to how the problem of child labor should be solved would remain, the conference pointed out.

The conference, held at Wisma Kinasih, Bogor, West Java, called for better enforcement of laws designed to protect child workers. It also called for the swift handling of cases of abuse such as abduction, sexual abuse and child prostitution.

The participants in the event additionally called for greater funds from the government and foreign donor countries for the campaign against child exploitation.

The conference's chief organizer, Arum R. Kusumanegara, said the meeting of experts and activists has identified a number of problems, such as the lack of manpower supervision officials to prevent child labor exploitation.

Pandji Putranto, the ILO's national program coordinator for the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, said recently that none of the programs currently in existence for children directly focus on child labor.

The government only provides a small amount of funds for child labor programs out of the US$ 250,000 allocated by the Ministry of Social Services for street children, he said.

According to 1994 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, about 1.9 million children between 10 and 14 years old were considered economically active. Seventy percent of them were recorded as working in the agricultural sector, but experts believe the figure could be higher.

The three-day conference was attended by non-governmental organizations, government officials and representatives from other institutions.

The event was closed by Suwarto, Director-General for Industrial Relations and Labor Standards at the Ministry of Manpower. (31)