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  • The Ministry of Labor should fulfill its responsibility to enforce laws governing child labor and to develop policies and programs relating to the human rights of child workers.  In particular, the government of El Salvador should allocate additional resources to the Ministry of Labor to provide for a sufficient number of labor inspectors to guarantee effective implementation of child labor laws in the sugarcane sector, and the ministry’s new Unit for the Eradication of Child Labor should coordinate with the Ministry of Education, the Salvadoran Institute for Children and Adolescents, and other relevant governmental bodies to develop comprehensive initiatives targeting child labor in sugarcane.
  • The Ministry of Education should ensure that all children enjoy their right to a free basic education, grades one through nine, as guaranteed by Salvadoran law.  In particular, it should work with appropriate enforcement authorities to sanction schools that levy matriculation fees or “voluntary” monthly assessments or that turn away students without uniforms, all of which violate Salvadoran law.  In addition, the ministry should work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) of the International Labour Organization, and donor governments to identify ways to prevent indirect costs of schooling, such as the cost of school supplies and transport, from becoming a barrier to the enjoyment of the right to education.
  • The Legislative Assembly should set an unequivocal minimum age for employment and should explicitly prohibit the employment of all children under the age of eighteen in harmful or hazardous labor.
  • UNICEF should work with the Ministry of Education to evaluate and strengthen existing initiatives to ensure access to basic and secondary education for children who work.  In particular, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education should identify ways to ensure that programs intended to eliminate school fees and provide needy children with school supplies are benefitting their target populations.  UNICEF should also draw on its experience elsewhere to identify other strategies to prevent indirect costs from becoming a barrier to the enjoyment of the right to education.
  • In line with article 8 of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, donor countries should assist El Salvador in implementing the convention, particularly through support for universal education.
  • Sugar mills should ensure that their supplier plantations respect children’s rights, including their right to be free from economic exploitation and hazardous labor.  Where their supplier plantations fall short of international standards and national legislation, mills should provide the economic and technical assistance necessary to bring plantations into compliance.  Sugar mills should not sever contractual ties with supplier plantations before taking steps to help plantations achieve compliance with international norms.  Mills should never take actions that would deprive child laborers of their livelihoods without ensuring that children and their families are receiving programs and services designed to provide them with alternatives to hazardous labor.
  • Coca-Cola should revise its guiding principles to reflect the U.N. Norms  on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights (the U.N. Norms) and other international standards.  Coca-Cola and other businesses should incorporate the U.N. Norms in their contractual arrangements with suppliers and should require suppliers to do the same throughout their supply chains.
  • Coca-Cola and other businesses that purchase refined sugar for use in their products should adopt effective monitoring systems to verify that labor conditions on their supplier sugarcane plantations comply with international standards and relevant national labor laws.  In cases where plantations fall short of such standards, Coca-Cola and other businesses should assist their supplier mills in providing the economic and technical assistance necessary to bring plantations into compliance.  In particular, Coca-Cola and other businesses should support programs and services that offer children and their families alternatives to child labor, publicly reporting the status of such efforts at least on an annual basis.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>June 2004