By Sovereign Hager
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
QUITO, Ecuador-The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Guinara Shahinian, expressed grave concern about the continued use of child labor in Ecuador. Ms. Shahinian just finished a tour of Ecuador. She concluded that child labor is a continued impediment to development in Ecuador.
Ms. Shahinian spoke with key stakeholders in the field of child rights and child labor. She also spoke with children and workers. An official report will be submitted to the Human Rights Council. Child labor is most likely to be found in banana plantations, flower farms, and garbage dumps. Child laborers lose out on education and limit their potential to earn a higher income and move their families out of the poverty cycle.
Other instances of labor exploitation observed during the visit included inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as discrimination. These situations reportedly exacerbate labor exploitation which are disproportionately encountered by refugee and asylum-seeking communities of Colombian nationals.
Special Rapporteur Shahinian praised Ecuador for a “genuine commitment to the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, domestic servitude, forced labor, and debt bondage.” Ecuador has worked comprehensively with the U.N. in developing initiatives, including a monitoring system.
One potential source of the difficulty in ending child labor is the income inequalities between families of indigenous or Afro-Ecuadorean decent and those of European or Mestizo descent. Children of indigenous or Afro-Ecuadorean descent have the most difficulty accessing education and are more likely to live in poverty.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits children under fifteen years of age from being employed or working dangerous conditions. The Ecuadorean constitution reaffirms these ideas.
For more information, please see:
Human Rights Education Associates-Ecuador: Child Labor an Obstacle to Development-2 February 2010
SOS Children’s Village-Child Labor Impedes Development in Ecuador-2 February 2010
U.N. Radio-UN Expert Says Child Labor Still a Problem in Ecuador-2 February 2010