EU considers ban on child labour products

Brussels, March 21 | Updated: Mar 22 2005, 05:30am hrs
In a move that could have major implications for India, a member of the European Parliament (EP) is proposing a ban on import of products stemming from child labour to the 25-member European Union. India is estimated to have 40 million or about 16% of the total child labourers in the world.

In an interview to the agency, British member of European Parliament Nirj Deva said the proposal will be made to the Trade and Development Committee of the EP. "We will not allow into EU any product where there is a Clear identified and unquestionable link to child labour," said Mr Deva, a British MEP of Sri Lankan/Indian origin.

Deva said his group, the European Peoples Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, together with the International Labour Organisation is trying to identify the products to be blacklisted. The EPs Development Committee discussed the issue of banning child labour in the world last week in Brussels.

A number of international NGOs and labour organisations participated in the one-day meeting. According to Deva, there are about 253 million child labourers in the world. In India, he estimates there are about 40 million and in China around 14 million. "These are huge figures. The first principle in this issue is that childs right for education cannot be negotiated," he said.

Shanta Sinha, of the M Venkatarangaiya Foundation, an Andhra Pradesh-based NGO founded in 1991, came from India to participate in the meeting. She claimed her group has been able to withdraw some 300,000 child labourers and put them into school. "There are about 100 million children in India who dont go to school. This is a huge problem," Sinha said.

"80 percent of the child labourers are employed in the agriculture sector," said Sinha, who represents the campaign "Stop Child Labour" in India. "The EU is framing its own policy on child labour. We are insisting that there should be a link between abolishing of child labour and education. Child labour, education and human rights should be seen as interlinked, it cannot be separated," she said.