The Telegraph
Saturday , May 31 , 2014
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Child rights meet in Guwahati

Guwahati, May 30: The city will host the Eastern Regional Round Table Conference on combating child labour this Monday.

The theme of the conference is Extend Social Protection: Combat Child Labour. It will be jointly organised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR).

“It would be a proud privilege for Assam to hold the conference, which will be attended by more than 80 participants from 12 eastern states, including Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Sikkim and the seven northeastern states,” ASCPCR member secretary Leena Das said.

The participants of the meeting, which will be held at Assam Administrative Staff College here at Khanapara, will include ministers, senior government officials from the departments of women and child development, social welfare, labour and employment, education, state commissions for protection of child rights and police officials.

“The conference will include a detailed and intensive panel discussion on the issues and challenges of addressing child labour,” ASCPCR chairperson Runumi Gogoi said.

According to the Annual Health Survey, 2010-11, 3.4 per cent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are engaged in child labour in Assam though it is believed that the government data is very conservative and the actual percentage could be much higher.

“The objective of the conference is to review the progress made in past years in combating child labour, sharing key information and experiences in addressing child labour and how social protection could play a critical role in combating child labour,” Gogoi said.

She said the Guwahati conference would be one of four such conferences convened in the country, which will culminate with a national convention in Delhi on June 12, which is observed as World Day Against Child Labour.

“The conclusions and recommendations drawn from the zonal conferences will be feed into the national convention,” she said.

Unicef child protection specialist for Assam, Vedprakash Gautam, said this year’s theme for World Day Against Child Labour — Extend Social Protection: Combat Child Labour — focuses on the role of social protection in enabling access to education, healthcare, nutrition and other services. “Social protection plays a pivotal role in keeping children away from child labour and helping the one already into it. The focus is to go to the most hard to reach and vulnerable groups of children.”

He said Unicef has asked Assam police to train all second officers at police stations in child rights so that they can efficiently work as child welfare officers of their respective police stations, as stated in the Juvenile Justice Act.

The ASCPCR chairperson also stated that they have moved Assam police to introduce a course on child rights in the police training college to sensitise police officers on the issue.