Suhakam calls on gov't to monitor, regulate businesses to prevent child labour

02 Mar 2017 / 09:36 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said the government must monitor and regulate businesses to prevent child labour.
This also extends to lawmakers who should unite in solidarity to fight human trafficking.
"The government has committed significant resources to combating trafficking in persons and Suhakam will continue to engage with all stakeholders to ensure that human trafficking and modern day slavery remains high on our agenda," its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement.
He added that Suhakam will discuss the issue with all parties including parliamentarians and government agencies.
He went on to remind all that human trafficking is a serious criminal offence and a grave violation of human rights.
"It roots its profit from human suffering.
"Suhakam reiterates that child labour violates the fulfilment of the full range of children's rights as contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)," he said.
He was responding to a recent article titled "Forced Labour" that involves the rescue of 18 people, including seven children at an oil palm plantation in Hulu Perak.
Meanwhile, lawyers and activists contented today that many do not know that laws prescribed to protect children are mentioned under the Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act, where the minister in charge of labour may prohibit any child or young person from engaging in any employment.
Other provisions such as number of hours and days of work is also mentioned in the Act.
They also agreed that there should be more emphasis to understand the Act and the media also plays a role in investigative journalism to highlight issues related to child labour.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said it must be determined first if there is a contract between plantation owners and potential employees.
"This is to ensure that if there is a breach of contract, both are able to make their case and bring their grievances to the authorities.
"There must also be transparency by various agencies when awarding contracts to plantation owners. A mechanism should also be in place where the employee can air their grievances.
"Other matters which should be studied on how much the contractors pay to them and a monitoring mechanism of the plantations ought to exist.
"Additionally, since Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines one to be below 18 years old, should ensure their welfare is protected," he said.
Human rights lawyer Charles Hector said cases related to the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act (Atip) allows enforcers to rescue the victim.
However, despite the law being enforced, it does not help them when upholding the victim's rights, regardless if they are locals or foreigners.
"The victims should have access to shelters and given a chance to work while their case is being conducted," he said.

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