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To the Government of Egypt:

Regarding the Use of Child Labor in Cotton Pest Management
· Agricultural cooperative societies must adhere to the provisions of the Child Law governing the minimum age for seasonal agricultural employment and working hours for children.

· Cooperative pest management staff should, on a daily basis, monitor the treatment of children engaged in leafworm control operations. Each cooperative should also establish a mechanism for receiving and investigating complaints of mistreatment lodged by children and their families. Immediate disciplinary action should be taken in cases where foremen are found to have mistreated children in their care.

· Cooperatives must ensure that children in leafworm control teams are provided 200 grams of milk daily, as required by article 145 of the Executive Statutes of the Child Law.

· Cooperatives must ensure that children in leafworm control teams have an adequate supply of pure water, as required by article 146 of the Executive Statutes of the Child Law. Water should be available to children on request.

· Cooperatives must provide children such articles as are necessary to protect them from incurring heat-related illnesses while working, as required by article 142 of the Executive Statutes of the Child Law. At a minimum, this should include visors and vessels for storing water.

· Cooperatives must guarantee that children receive medical treatment free of charge for work accidents and occupational illnesses, as required by article 147 of the Executive Statutes of the Child Law.

· The schedule of occupational diseases annexed to the Social Insurance Law should be amended to include pesticide poisoning, heat-related illnesses, and other diseases related to agricultural work, and the law itself made applicable to agricultural workers.

· Rural families should receive education about occupational illnesses related to agricultural work, including exposure to heat and pesticides or other environmental toxins, and instruction on ways to minimize the risk of contracting such illnesses.

· The 1965 agriculture ministry decree requiring each farmer to provide at least one child to the local cooperative for paid leafworm control work should be repealed immediately, and notice of its revocation should be disseminated through cooperatives and media accessible to rural communities. The decree has a potentially coercive effect, even if it is not presently enforced, and is inherently incompatible with the prohibitions on forced or compulsory labor under article 8 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 3 of ILO Convention 182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention).

· The education ministry should initiate a program to identify children in each rural community who are not in school. Concerted efforts should be made to ascertain the reasons for their withdrawal from school, and to ensure their enrollment and regular attendance. Such children should not be selectively targeted for recruitment by cooperatives in the event of a labor shortage.

· The government of Egypt should promptly ratify ILO Convention 182, and bring Egyptian law and practice into full conformity with its requirements.

Regarding Pesticide Use
· Reentry intervals specific to children should be established, taking into account children's greater susceptibility to pesticide absorption and retention, as well as their heightened sensitivity to toxic chemicals. Reentry intervals are designed to prohibit entry into an area for specified periods of time following the application of pesticides, and vary in duration according to the concentration and toxicity of the chemicals involved.

· Spraying by farmers should be monitored by the agricultural engineer and the cooperative pest control staff in each village. Additional, suitably trained staff should be designated for this purpose as necessary. Staff should be authorized to intervene and prohibit further spraying when there are indications that chemicals prohibited for application by farmers are being used, or when inappropriate spraying equipment or techniques are being utilized. Farmers should be required to notify the agricultural engineer before they commence spraying, and arrangements must be made to prevent the presence of children on the field until the appropriate reentry interval has passed.

· A minimum age of eighteen should be imposed for all pesticide handlers. Agricultural engineers and cooperative pest control staff should ensure that children are not involved in pesticide application, or in any support function that brings them into direct contact with pesticides. Sanctions should be imposed on farmers and cooperative employees who engage children in these activities.

· Pesticides identified as Class Ib, or "highly hazardous" by the World Health Organization, should be made available only to professionally qualified personnel who are certified by the agriculture ministry. Class II pesticides should be evaluated for their toxicity to children, and registered as restricted use products where appropriate.

· The learning groups that the agriculture ministry has established to inform farmers about integrated pest management (IPM) principles and methods represent a welcome measure that should be expanded as soon possible to cover all farmers. IPM methods used for cotton include the adoption of more efficient means of applying pesticides, the establishment of action thresholds, based on infestation levels, to initiate spraying; and the use of nontoxic pheromones-attractants secreted by insects-to disrupt mating cycles.

· Extension services should be developed to assist farmers in choosing appropriate pest control materials, selecting, handling and maintaining suitable spraying equipment, correct spraying concentrations and application rates, and proper spraying techniques.

· Alternatives to pesticide application, such as the use of pheromones, should be fully utilized.

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