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14.12.2005 General News

Take threat to boycott cocoa produced by child labour seriously - Asenso-Okyere

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Accra, Dec. 14, GNA - The threat by importers to boycott cocoa from countries, which use child labour on cocoa farms, poses a significant challenge to Ghana and stakeholders must ensure that they worked within the law. This is because cocoa is the backbone of Ghana's economy and the use of children as labourers on cocoa farms should be discouraged to promote the development of the children, Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said on Wednesday. He was speaking at a meeting in Accra to draw up strategies for incorporating child labour indicators in socio-economic and demographic surveys in Ghana.

The Ghana Statistical Service in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are collaborating in the project to understand the extent of child labour in the country with the hope that it could be eliminated to enable the Ghanaian child to develop his or her potentials. Prof. Asenso-Okyere said the Convention on the Rights of Children placed a responsibility on the State to take appropriate steps to protect children from all forms of physical, mental and sexual abuse through the establishment of protective, investigative and preventive services. He said every child had the right to be protected from engaging in work that constituted a threat to his health, education or development. But these could only happen when the laws and conventions governing the right of children were enforced, he said, adding that not a single parent or individual had been prosecuted for infringing the Children's Act since it was promulgated in 1998.

The Children's Act (Act 560) enshrined the rights of children to survival, protection against harmful influence, right to physical, moral, and intellectual development and the right to participate actively in social and cultural life. Prof. Asenso-Okyere said the use of the indicators might assist in identifying children, who needed care and protection and for the State to intervene to help them.

Dr Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, said it was important to have benchmark indicators against which future developments in child labour could be measured. This, she said, was important to better understand the concerns and sensitivities from all perspectives and to derive meaningful conceptual definitions. Mr Mawutor Ablo, Director, Ministry of Manpower and Employment, said the indicators would enable the Ministry to build credible information that could be easily accessed by all to make informed decisions.