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New Zealand To Ratify Child Labour Convention

New Zealand is to ratify an ILO Convention aimed at eliminating the worst forms of child labour.

The Minister of Labour, Hon Margaret Wilson, announced today that by the end of the year the Government intends to ratify the “Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention”, adopted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June 1999.

“The Convention aims to raise the standards of protection for children against very grave forms of exploitation, and has a strong human rights dimension. New Zealand participated actively in the negotiations on the Convention and we have a consistent record of being a supporter of children’s rights. It is appropriate that we reaffirm our support for efforts by the international community to support children’s rights by ratifying this Convention,” Ms Wilson said.

The “worst forms of child labour” addressed by the Convention include all forms of slavery, prostitution and pornography, use of children for illicit activities and work likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

“These 'worst forms' of child labour are not assessed to occur in New Zealand to any significant extent, due to safeguards already provided by existing legislation and policies. However, the obligations of the Convention provide a framework for Government to continually assess these safeguards and ensure that a child’s work experience in New Zealand is safe, healthy and non-exploitative,” Ms Wilson said

New Zealand has a long-standing practice of not ratifying an international treaty unless domestic law and practice are fully aligned with the treaty’s provisions. Before New Zealand can ratify the “Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention”, the Crimes Act 1961 will need to be amended to ensure New Zealand can comply with the Convention’s provisions on prostitution. The main change will be the creation of a new offence of engaging in sexual activity with a prostitute under the age of 18 years.

The process to achieve ratification includes tabling a National Interest Analysis in Parliament, and consideration of the Convention by a Select Committee.

“The Government is placing a high priority on the introduction of the amending legislation, which is expected in late July 2000. After the legislation is passed, the Government will be able to formally ratify the Convention by the end of the year.

“We will be consulting with the community on the development of processes for ensuring ongoing compliance with the Convention. These processes will include monitoring and enforcement, and prevention and assistance measures for children and young people,” Ms Wilson said


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