The Committee calls on all stakeholders to join hands to end contemporary forms of slavery against children in Africa.On the occasion of the 2016 International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) called on all stakeholders to work together, including with children and their associations, to urgently end contemporary forms of slavery against children in Africa.
“Many children in Africa remain subject to contemporary forms of slavery, often under the full control of their “masters”. These children are often treated as the property of their handlers, and in most of the cases are subject to cruel inhumane and degrading treatments” underscored the Chairperson of the Committee, Benyam Dawit Mezmur. “They often receive no payment for their labour. In some countries, they can be rented out, loaned, given as gifts in marriage or inherited by the masters’ children” Mr Mezmur added.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are some 5.5 million children in slavery or practices similar to slavery; such as forced and bonded labour, child trafficking, child prostitution and sale of a child.
The Committee notes that slavery in its current trends goes against a number of provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the regional comprehensive child rights instrument which is binding on 47 African Union Member States. For instance, Article 29 of the Charter requires states to take appropriate measures to prevent the abduction, the sale of, or traffic of children for any purpose or in any form, by any person including parents or legal guardians of the child; it also prohibits the use of children in all forms of begging. Articles 15,16, 21, 22 & 27 also demand that other contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict are prohibited by the ACRWC and other international instruments.
Progress is being made in addressing contemporary forms of slavery on the African continent. These progresses include the adoption of laws and polices, as well as penalties that are commensurate with the gravity of the offence. The Committee particularly concerned on the fact that despite the adoption of national and regional trafficking policies, implementation and coordination between countries remain a serious challenge. The Committee calls on Member States to reinforce their cooperation on these cross-border issues affecting the rights and welfare of millions of children on the continent.
In this regard, the Committee calls on the Member States and the African Union Commission and its Political Organs to adopt a regional response in support of countries’ initiatives and programs aimed to address the contemporary forms of slavery among children in Africa.