US cites Suriname for child labour

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Monday, October 1, 2012 – The United States has added Suriname, along with South Sudan, and Vietnam, to its list of 74 countries where adults and children as young as five are subjected to serious labour and human trafficking abuses in prostitution, mining and other dangerous work.

“Children in Suriname are engaged in the worst forms of child labor,” stated one of the reports in the US Labor Department’s annual assessment of global human trafficking. The report added that those children caught in mines face dangerous conditions such as mercury exposure, extreme heat and the risk of being crushed, and child prostitution at mining camps was also a worry.

The report also expresses concern about child prostitution in mining areas. The Americans claim Suriname made minimal progress in 2011 to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, but has made efforts to raise awareness about human and child trafficking. Yet the country has no list of activities that are considered dangerous to children, and the minimum age for employment is not equal to the age for compulsory education. The report also claims Suriname has no national policy to combat child labour.

However, according to de Ware Tijd, Labour Minister Michael Miskin has expressed doubts the veracity of the report.

“I’ve spoken with the Labour Inspectorate, the gold sector restructuring commission and the police who have visited these areas, and they claim this is not what they’ve found.”

The minister said that he would consult with his counterpart in Foreign Affairs to find out what information has been used to place Suriname on the watch list. “I personally think this is very strange,” Miskin said. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)