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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ILAB News Release: [02/28/2013]
Contact Name: Gloria Della or Laura McGinnis
Phone Number: (202) 693-4679 or x4653
Release Number: 13-0166-NAT

US Department of Labor presents Iqbal Masih Award to Ghanaian advocate for vulnerable children

WASHINGTON — Carol Pier, acting deputy undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, today announced that George Achibra of Ghana has won the department's 2012 Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor. U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Gene A. Cretz presented the award to Achibra at a ceremony in Accra.

Achibra was selected for his work in rescuing hundreds of children from child labor and child trafficking in impoverished fishing communities in Ghana. A former schoolteacher, Achibra founded the Partnership for Community Development to provide services to trafficked children and raise awareness about child labor and human trafficking laws.

In announcing the award, Pier said, "Children exploited in Ghana's fishing industry face unacceptable perils — such as drowning because they cannot swim and must dive into deep water to untangle fishing nets. Children trafficked into this industry are especially vulnerable to injury or death. This award honors George Achibra's selfless dedication in helping such children escape from harm and find new hope for their future."

Congress established the Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor in 2009 to recognize exceptional efforts by an individual, company, organization or national government to end the worst forms of child labor. This non-monetary award honors the spirit of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani child sold into bonded labor as a carpet weaver at age four. He escaped his servitude and became an outspoken advocate of children's rights, drawing international attention in his fight against child labor. Masih was killed in Pakistan at age 13 in 1995.

Since 1995, the Labor Department has supported global efforts to combat exploitative child labor internationally. For more information about this work and the Iqbal Masih Award, visit http://www.dol.gov/ilab/.