The Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) are advocating for stricter legislation and the enforcement of laws under the Child Care and Protection Act to protect children from child labour that threatens their health, education, and development.
Under the Act, it states that it is illegal to employ children who are less than 13 years old. However, light work is permitted for children who are 13 years and older.
Despite this legislation, they note that 38,000 children between five and 17 are involved in child labour in Jamaica.
“Daily, we observe children on the roads selling goods, wiping windshields, and other tasks when they should be in school. Some children are also subjected to commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking, and use in illicit activities,” the group said.
They noted that children also perform dangerous tasks in agriculture and construction. Additionally, children in Jamaica are often recruited by criminal organisations to smuggle drugs and participate in lottery scamming.
“The Government is urged to strengthen the legislative framework to ensure the complexity of child labour and child exploitation in criminal activities are addressed,” they wrote.
The JFJ is also urging Jamaicans to report any acts of child labour by calling 211 to protect the nation’s children.
Under the Child Care and Protection Act, persons who engage in child labour can be fined up to J$500,000 and/or face imprisonment of up to six months.