Mali’s Plan to Probe Child Labour in Gold Mines
AFRICA, 20 Feb 2012
‘Our research found that children in Mali start working as young as six years old. Many child laborers are denied an education or drop out of school. Some children come to the mines without their parents and suffer economic or sexual exploitation,’ Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the Minister of Mines, Amadou Cisse.
‘We are encouraged by your actions to address these problems by conducting visits to artisanal mining sites. We believe that the planned government mission can be an important starting point for concerted action to improve the situation of these children,’ the New York-based rights group said in the letter, a copy of which was published on its website this weekend.
The Malian government and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have estimated that there are approximately 100,000 to 200,000 individuals who work in artisanal gold mines in Mali, among whom an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 are children.
‘Many of these children perform hazardous child labor, in contravention of Malian labor law. While artisanal mining represents an important source of income and livelihood for adults, there are serious health risks for children who dig pits, work underground, carry, pan, and crush ore, and use mercury to extract gold,’ HRW said.
The rights group urged the Malian government to ensure the probe panel comprises representatives of ministries that should be involved in the development of strategies to address the suffering of these children, as well as of the relevant UN agencies, such as UNICEF and the International Labor Organization, as well international and/or national Malian NGOs that have expertise on the issue.
The Malian government has promised to make the outcome of the probe public.
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