Danish Embassy Accused of not Preventing Child Labor in Tsunami Aid Project

According to the Danish daily, BT, 10 year-old children are working as construction workers 7-8 hours each day at a Danish-funded building site outside the village of Bahn Nam Khem near Phuket – spending so much time doing hard labor that they do not go to school. They are helping to dig out the foundations for 20 new homes – some of which will be for the boys’ own families. The work is being financed by Denmark as a part of the Danish aid to help rebuild the communities that were destroyed in connection with the Tsunami.

According to BT, who has gained access to the contract for the project which was signed by the Danish Embassy in Thailand and the so-called Community Organisations Development Institute (CODI), the Danish Embassy has not ensured that the local Thai organizations would avoid the use of child labor when working on Danish-funded projects. No clauses are to be found in the contract regarding working conditions, workers’ salaries or the age of the workers.
“The contract is just a very basic contract. It doesn’t mention anything about who should be allowed to take part in the work,” admits the embassy’s environmental advisor Rene Andersen to BT.

Minister Demands Explanation
The news of the alleged use of child labor in connection with the Danish-funded project near Bahn Nam Khem has caused Denmark’s Minister of Aid Cooperation, Mrs. Ulla Tornaes, to demand an explanation from the embassy.
“In my opinion, the embassy must write in the contract that child labor is not to take place. It is very important that the embassy displays a clear Danish attitude, since we ought to be a good example to other countries in this regard,” she tells BT.
“Child labor is absolutely unacceptable. I want an explanation from the embassy regarding the child workers, and this explanation will include more information about the contract. Of course the embassy must control who works on the construction on a building site which they have financed,” Ulla Tornaes says.

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