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UNICEF commends Sri Lanka for adopting policy reforms to ensure justice for children


Sep 24, 2020 (LBO) – The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is grateful to the Government of Sri Lanka for adopting two very important policy reforms that will raise the minimum working age and ensure that no child enters the adult prison system.

The decision to raise the minimum working age from 14 to 16 will be in line with labor law for the compulsory education age of 16 years. This initiative, initiated by the Ministry of Labor, enables children to meaningfully pursue their right to compulsory education.

The Cabinet also passed a policy decision to amend the Children and Young Persons Ordinance and the Youthful Offenders (Training Schools) Ordinance to ensure that juvenile offenders do not enter a prison system for adults and are rehabilitated through the Department of Probation and Child Care Services.

According to the Department of Prisons' 2019 statistics, 168 children under the age of 16 and 11,203 youths between the ages of 16 and 22 are directly admitted to prisons. In addition, 1,933 young people between the ages of 16 and 22 were directly admitted to the prison system in 2019 along with adults as convicted prisoners.
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In addition, the Children's Activity Survey conducted by the Department of Census and Statistics in 2016 found that 43,714 children were involved in child labor, of which 39,007 were employed in the mining, quarrying, construction sites, fisheries, and personal and/or property protection. Risks, including compilation, were also calculated to be in the form of shards.

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