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US Labor Department commemorates 20 years of work combating international child labor with release of new reporting and $26 million in grants
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today announced the release of a new report and updated list on child labor and forced labor and the award of $26 million in grants to combat child labor in four countries. The event at the department's headquarters included remarks by Secretary Perez, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, as well as a video message from Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"These reports remind us that children and adults continue to be exploited for their labor in countries around the world. Until this is no longer true, our work is not done," said Secretary Perez. "We need to call upon governments, international and regional organizations, social partners and civil society to work together to end these human rights abuses." New global estimates from the International Labour Organization place the number of child laborers at 168 million worldwide.
The department's twelfth annual edition of its "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor," a report mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000, which analyzes the worst forms of child labor in 143 foreign countries and territories. The report assesses efforts in countries to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, tracking from year to year whether a country has made significant, moderate, minimal or no advancement. This year, 10 countries, more than ever before, received an assessment of significant advancement. The report is available at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings/.
"I have long had a vision of a world free of the scourge of exploitative child labor," said Senator Harkin. "This report is one of our most effective tools in this fight. It is a voice for the voiceless and a call to action on their behalf. We must sustain this fight for as long as it takes."
The department also released an update of its "List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor," as required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, and announced its decision to remove three goods (charcoal from Namibia, diamonds from Zimbabwe and tobacco from Kazakhstan) from that list. The updated list includes a total of 134 goods from 73 countries that the department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs has reason to believe are produced by forced labor, child labor or both in violation of international standards. The list is available at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods.
As part of the department's international efforts to combat child labor, Secretary Perez also announced $26 million in awards for the following projects in four countries:
- $2 million to reduce child labor in home-based carpet production in Afghanistan awarded to GoodWeave USA;
- $9 million to combat child labor in the mining sector in Colombia awarded to Pact Inc.;
- $10 million to reduce child labor and improve labor rights and working conditions in agriculture in the Dominican Republic awarded to Catholic Relief Services; and
- $5 million to combat child labor in the tea sector in Rwanda awarded to Winrock International.
Since 1993, ILAB has produced reports to raise awareness globally about child labor and forced labor and funded projects that provide assistance to vulnerable children and their families. ILAB has funded more than 270 projects in more than 90 countries to combat the worst forms of child labor. In addition to providing international technical assistance in support of U.S. foreign and labor policy objectives, the agency lead's the Department of Labor's efforts to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. ILAB's global mission is to improve working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers' ability to exercise their rights and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.
More information about the reports and grants are available at http://www.dol.gov/ilab/. Printed versions of the reports are available from the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-5317, Washington, DC 20210. Members of the public also may contact the office by telephone at 202-693-4843, fax at 202-693-4830 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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