A group of Harvard Law students from the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School will today launch their report on child miners in Sierra Leone pointing out that “Sierra Leone (is) losing its youth to diamond mining”.
In a press release issued Wednesday the group states that “As Sierra Leone’s diamond industry gets back on its feet after a decade of bloody civil war, child and youth diggers are still on their knees.”
The report, titled Digging in the Dirt: Child Miners in Sierra Leone’s Diamond Industry,” describes the hardships experienced by child and youth, vocational opportunities for adults and social services in rural provinces in forcing many children to turn to open-pit mining as a source of income for their families.”
The report also looks at conditions in the mines where children work with particular reference to those activities which deal with the human rights of the children.
“Beginning as early as ten years of age, child miners perform back-breaking labour under poor conditions where they receive little compensation for their efforts,” said Matthew Wells, one of the co-authors of the report and a member of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.
“Child miners are overwhelmed by the work they are undertaking, labouring for six or seven days a week, being exposed to collapsing mine pits, and experiencing dire health impacts, including increased rates of malaria, worms, severe headaches and disease.”
“This report urges the government to take immediate action to eliminate child mining in Sierra Leone by better addressing the needs of adults and children in mining communities,” said Aminta Ossom, another co-author of the report and a member of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.
“But this cannot be done unless Sierra Leone improves accountability in the industry and government to ensure that diamond profits are shared with local communities.” The launching of the report will take place at the YWCA today.