As a Government, I am confident that due to the important decisions taken so far to eradicate child labour, Sri Lanka will soon be able to eradicate child labour while achieving the Global Sustainability Goals, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said issuing a message to mark World Day Against Child Labour which falls today.
The Full Message: “As the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, who has played a positive role in the elimination of child labour, it is with great pleasure that I issue a message today on the occasion of World Day Against Child Labour, at a time when the International Labour Organization and the United Nations General Assembly are mobilizing the world community to eradicate child labour globally.
“I would like to remind you that the world is rallying today under the theme “Eliminate Child Labour – Act Now”, naming 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have set a global goal of eliminating child labour by 2025.
“It goes without saying that we, who made commitments in the past to bring the future of our children on a positive path, are still working hard for it.
“As a Government, I am confident that due to the important decisions taken so far to eradicate child labour, Sri Lanka will soon be able to eradicate child labour by achieving the Global Sustainability Goals.
“As a Government, we have already amended a number of laws to prevent the use of child labour in all forms of work, including the use of children for harmful employment.
“We also amended the 65-year-old “Employment of Women, Youth and Children” Act No. 47 of 1956 to raise the minimum working age from 14 to 16 years.
“Accordingly, it is now prohibited to employ children under the age of 16 in Sri Lanka. It is considered a punishable offense.
“The Department of Labour is committed to this endeavour and this Department , the National Child Protection Authority, the Department of Probation and Child Care and the Child and Women Abuse Prevention Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police are doing a commendable job.
“Accordingly, several institutions, including the Department of Labour, have jointly implemented a program to identify children below the age of 16 who do not go to school and send them to school.
During the war in Sri Lanka, the LTTE used children extensively for its terrorist activities. As a result, Sri Lanka was a world-renowned country for child soldiers.
“Since we put an end to that 12 years ago, we are committed to giving children in the North and East all the same rights as other children.
“Accordingly, we as a country are working in accordance with international conventions and obligations to prevent all forms of violence against children, not just child labor.
“Today we make decisions about children thinking not only of the present generation but also of the future generation.
Therefore, I kindly request the beloved people of Sri Lanka to never hesitate to stand up against child labour and also all forms of violence and crime against children”.