About a fifth of PNG children aged 10 to 14 years, and almost a third of children aged 14 or over, are believed to be “economically active”.
Studies have found child labour, including its worst forms – child trafficking, child prostitution, the use of children for the production and sale of drugs, and hazardous child labour – are extensive in PNG.
The director of the ILO’s Pacific regional office, Donglin Li, visited PNG this month as the government launched its national action plan to eliminate child labour.
He said government took heed of his advice that child labour was unacceptable.
“When I visited PNG last year, December, I saw lots of street vendors – they were all children. And this time, last week, I just came back, I didn’t see any children there. It means they have taken some action.”
Li said the government has already taken initial steps towards establishing a Child Labour Unit.
“The problem is not sufficient budget,” Li explained.
“So that’s why this time we urged the government to put more money towards the Child Labour Unit. Otherwise if you don’t have a budget you cannot do any monitoring activities.”
Lack of funding was also an impeding factor in moves to counter child trafficking in the country, which is a significant problem.
“Because when you do something in PNG, you need money, you need a budget,” said Mr Li. “So from ILO side, we are trying to find a budget from our own to do something for PNG to protect it from this kind of trafficking activities.”
According to the national action plan, the Child Labour Unit would coordinate provincial and local child labour committees to implement initiatives and best-practice dissemination.
It would also support Labour officers in their inspection roles