[JURIST] The Bolivian National Congress [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday passed legislation permitting children as young as 10 to join the workforce as long as it does not interfere with one’s education and is done independently in an effort to provide for their family. The U.N. International Labor Organization’s (ILO) [official website] Carmen Moreno stated [AP report] that the new legislation would make Bolivia the first country to legally allow children as young as 10 to work. In 1999 Bolivia along with the U.N. instituted the Code for Children and Adolescents [In Spanish, PDF], which allowed for children to join the workforce at 14. However, the new legislation passed by the Bolivian congress will become an exception to this law. Senator Adolfo Mendoza, a support of the legislation, has stated that the new exception’s stipulations will be strictly enforced [AFP report] and will require parental approval. The law is predicted to be signed shortly by President Evo Morales [official website, in Spanish].
In recent years child labor laws have become a growing subject of international attention.The UN International Labor Organization (ILO) last year [JURIST report] released a report on child labor [text, PDF; press release] advocating social protections as the key to ending the practice. “[The] report contributes to a better understanding of the underlying economic and social vulnerabilities that generate child labour.” Globally, the ILO estimates that at least 215 million children are in an adverse labor situation, with 115 million suffering the worst treatment including “practices akin to slavery, debt bondage, offering a child for prostitution, using a child for illicit activities and work that is harmful to health, safety or morals of children.” To combat the problem, the ILO advocates the implementation of “social protection floors” in all countries to provide for the most basic needs of children.