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Cambodia: Govt vows to end child labour in brick industry by 2020; CSOs call for solutions to address poverty as root cause

Author: Leonie Kijewski, VOANews, Published on: 8 September 2019

"Cambodia Launches Campaign to End Child Labor in Brick Industry," 07 September 2019

Cambodia has launched a campaign to end child labor in the brick industry by 2020, a move industry observers cautiously welcome while expressing doubts the goal will be achieved, and calling for more structural changes.

The industry drew international attention last year when a report, Blood Bricks: Untold Stories of Modern Slavery and Climate Change from Cambodia, asserted poverty, often caused by climate change, forced tens of thousands of Cambodians into debt bondage at brick kilns...

The government said... that the director of the Labor Ministry's Child Labor Department, Veng Heang, had started the campaign... in cooperation with local authorities.

One of the authors of the Blood Bricks report, Laurie Parsons, welcomed the initiative, saying child labor was still prevalent in the industry and estimating that the number of children working in brick factories ranged “in the thousands.”

He welcomed the initiative but called just focusing on child labor a “symptom-led approach” not likely to address the root causes of the problem. He said that poverty pushes people into debt-bondage at the brick kilns, poor working conditions, and brick kiln contracts barring workers from employment elsewhere.

The ministry remained evasive, however, about what concrete measures would be taken to combat child labor. Asked what the government would do once the inspection was done, ministry spokesman Heng Sour said: “I would like to inform you that our labor inspectors are still on their mission to inspect all brick factories across the country, which will conclude in late October. We will publish the report in this November.”

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