The “Country Level Engagement and Assistance to Reduce (CLEAR) Child Labor II Project in Belize” was launched today. Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development, Hugo Patt was the keynote speaker. In addressing those assembled, he noted that Belize has made some strides in combating child labor, however, he recognized that there is more that can be done.
Hugo Patt – Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development:
“For us in Belize this is a very important endeavor. Where participants will better understand their roles and responsibilities as key actors in effective elimination of child labor especially in its worse forms. In particular the project seeks to improve the legislation addressing child labor issues. As the host country we will be assisted with the capacity building to analyze current legislation with a view to recommend to parliament a clear and institutional framework that adheres to international standards and commitments, advocate policy coherence among social actors, create an effective mechanism for monitoring of child activities and enforcement of child labor laws, develop and effectively implement a national plan of action of child labor. We will also be able to improve enforcement with technical assistance that supports government ministries, departments and institutions and industry stakeholders through fostering greater collaboration and cooperation.”
The project also has the support of the US Embassy, the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, Debbie Lingwood, was on hand for this morning’s launch.
Debbie Lingwood – Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy Belize:
“The US government every year does a report of child labor not just in the region but around the world and we highlight both negative actions as well as positive actions that are taken by countries around the world. And so in Belize we recognize that there is child labor but we also recognize that there have been improvements in child labor. For example in the sugar and citrus industry there has been improvements those industries are working to reduce child labor with the goal of reducing it entirely. So there are positive changes happening and what we are hoping working with the Government of Belize on this project is to find ways to reduce child labor overall not just in those two sectors but across the board. We feel that children should be in school, they need to get an education, this is vitally important because farming is critical around the world and certainly in Belize but having children stay safe and educated is critical because they will be the future workforce in Belize and it’s important for them to stay in school, to stay safe and get the skills.”
The project has the support of international organizations such as Winrock International, Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) and Verite. The CLEAR II project intends to implement a national plan of action, bring about law reform, and ensure that the necessary laws and policies are enforced that are related to child labor.