US sees progress in global fight against child labour

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States (US) hailed "significant advancement" in 10 countries, mostly in Latin America and Asia, in combating the worst forms of child labour, in a report published on Monday.

Three countries - Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Uzbekistan - were cited for government complicity in forced child labour.

But in a 826-page report, the Department of Labor said half of the developing countries and territories it surveyed had made at least "moderate" progress towards eradicating child labour.

Ten countries made "significant advancement", including three South-east Asian nations (Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand) and five in Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).

Ethiopia also made the grade, as did Gibraltar, one of several British overseas territories lumped together with developing nations for scrutiny by the Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs.

In a first, the Department of Labor also removed three goods - charcoal from Namibia, diamonds from Zimbabwe and tobacco from Kazakhstan - from its running list of products made with child or forced labour.

"We're moving in the right direction, but we have a lot more work to be done," said newly-appointed Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in presenting the report, the 12th in an annual series.

The International Labor Organisation, a United Nations agency, says there are still 168 million children working worldwide, 85 million of them in conditions deemed to be hazardous.

"Nations should not build their economic futures on the backs of children," Mr Perez said. "That's categorically wrong."