Samagi Jana Balawewa – SJB, the main opposition, calls on the government to bring in legislation to ban the domestic child labour in the country with immediate effect. Though legislations passed previously found 51 jobs in Sri Lanka are unsuitable for children and it does not include domestic child labour.
Addressing a press conference held at the office of the Leader of the Opposition in Colombo, SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne, commenting on an incident said, “To have been reported at the residence of former Minister Rishard Bathiudeen, Police are now investigating and a court case is underway. We request that the courts to decide on the offense and punish whoever is guilty on the reported incident of child abuse”.
Mr. Wickremaratne stated that the Samagi Jana Balawewa (SJB) strongly emphasizes that the law should be enforced without any discrimination against those who are guilty of violence against women or children.
It has been our position from the beginning that even in the case of bond scam the culprits whoever is to be punished. But this government came to power by promising to catch the bond thieves. t has been almost two years since this government came to power, but no thief has been arrested,” he stated.
He also said that child abuse reported in the media was not an issue of racism and that the law should be enforced against it and the Samagi Jana Balawewa as a party stood up directly against violence against women and children.
The Opposition is of the view that the law of the land should be enforced equally for all, irrespective of whether they are Presidents who are exempt only during their term of office or a minister.
The time has come to renew our laws. There is a law on women, youth and child labour, and the law of the land envisages zero tolerance for child abuse and violence.
In accordance with the Conventions of the International Labour Organization, which has been ratified by Sri Lanka as well there are four categories of jobs where employing children have been banned.
“First, a child cannot be enslaved or made a child soldier. Secondly, a child cannot be used for pornography or prostitution. Likewise, employing the child labour for drug trafficking or begging are also punishable offenses. We need to identify the dangers of child labour and ban it. This allows countries to decide where a child can and cannot work. The ILO convention empowers the States to make decisions based on the circumstances of the country,” he said.
Accordingly, legislations have been passed identifying 51 jobs in Sri Lanka as unsuitable for children. However, when that decision was taken, Sri Lanka did not ban domestic child labour. At that time, Mr. Wickremaratne recalled that the government, trade unions and the employers’ federations decided not to ban children from working in homes. However, civil society still stood against domestic child labour.
In conclusion, Mr. Wickramaratne called on the government to immediately reconsider the legal provision for the use of child slavery as the time has come to ban domestic child labour in the country to ensure the safety of children.