(Manila, September 30, 2015) – The Philippine government is failing to protect children who dig and dive for gold in dangerous small-scale mines, Human Rights Watch said today in a new report and video, released ahead of Children’s Month in the Philippines.
The 39-page report, “What…if Something Went Wrong: Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines” documents how thousands of Filipino children – some just 9 years old – work in illegal, small-scale gold mines, mostly financed by local businessmen. Children work in unstable 25-meter-deep pits or underwater along the coastal shore or in rivers, and process gold with mercury, a toxic metal. In September 2014, a 17-year-old boy suffocated in an underground mine because there was no machine providing oxygen. The Philippine government should act on its public commitment to end child labor in mining, Human Rights Watch said.