Topic: Children and women labour abuse: ways to prevent further escalation
Country: Bosnia & Herzegovina
The issue of the rights of women and children remains highly divisive in most of the societies and the regions of the world. Although, the situation can be seen better in the most developed states and in Europe, it still remains a major issue that concerns EU affairs and Human Rights globally.
Child labour is a stubborn problem that, even if overcome in certain places or sectors, will seek out opportunities to reappear in new and often unanticipated ways. The response to the problem must be as versatile and adaptable as child labour itself. Experience has shown that the effective elimination of child labour requires policies that address persistent poverty and the vulnerability of households to economic shocks. Important policy responses concern education, social protection and efforts to promote decent work for adults.
In many countries, nowadays, women and children face discrimination, intimidation, harassment, torture and physical abuse not only from state organs, but also from their own families and other private institutions. International efforts address issues associated with women and children protection, with the United Nations playing an active and important role in the process of acknowledgement and development of women?s and children?s human rights.
As regards international human rights instruments Bosnia and Herzegovina has ratified all major UN and International human rights Conventions. The principles of the European Convention on Human Rights are entrenched in the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which also guarantees the supremacy of this Convention over national Legislation.
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is based on human dignity, liberty and equality and is inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this vein, all persons within its territory shall enjoy the right to equality before the law (section II, art.2).
The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina prohibits forced or bonded labour, including by children. The minimum age of employment of children in our country is 15 years. The Law on Labour prohibits children from performing hazardous work, and includes strong cultural norms against non-farm child labour and it effectively discourages the practice in the country.
The country ratified the ILO Convention 182 concerning the worst forms of child labour in 1991.
The Gender Equality law in Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted in 2003 after years of policy advocacy by women?s NGOs. The Law established the Agency for Gender Equality in which all forms of gender based violence in all its forms, in the private and public spheres will be punished for a criminal act with imprisonment in duration 6 months to 5 years. (Articles 17 & 4)
Human trafficking which mainly affects children and women has international implications and is recognized as a crime by the United Nations. Implementation and coordination of anti trafficking law enforcement at all levels of government is the responsibility of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry of Security. It is recognized a state-level crime that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
However, as the problem of forced labour for both children and women has become one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises globally, Bosnia and Herzegovina strongly believes that the international community has to develop an increasing concern to eliminate this phenomenon, given the fact that the UNHR which has been adopted by the general Assembly, has a customary character and as such binds legally all nations to respect it. As a result, we should prescribe measures against children and women labour abuse with a focus on harsher criminal legislation and punishments and at the same time improve international police cooperation. We should conduct vast media campaigns designed to be informative to the public so we raise public awareness about the issue.
Finally, we urge each and every nation of our community to take specific measures in order to attack forced labour at national level and enforce the laws prescribed by the United Nations.