International group rallies for

GENEVA (AP) — An exuberant group of children rescued from mines, sweatshops and servitude descended on Geneva today and inspired calls for the International Labor Organization to restrict child labor worldwide.
Carrying colorful banners and chanting, a group of 150 marchers was led into the U.N. European headquarters by 11-year-old Basudev Bhattarai, a former domestic servant from Nepal.
They livened up the opening of the annual meeting of the 174-nation ILO, which is considering a new world convention aimed at abolishing the most extreme forms of child labor.
“We must wash this black spot from the face of humanity without hesitation or delay,” march coordinator Kailash Satyarthi of India told delegates.
Some critics say the ILO has outlived its usefulness, but the children’s campaign helps to show that the oldest U.N. agency is still needed to stop labor abuses around the world.
Sponsored by the ILO, the U.N. Children’s Fund, and other organizations, the campaign began in January in the Philippines and has included marches in 62 countries in Asia, Africa, North and South America and Europe.
“Go, go, global march!” the children shouted Saturday as they led more than 1,000 demonstrators through the streets of Geneva.
Child labor tops the agenda of the two-week meeting, which brings together representatives of government, labor and management. The ILO draws up and monitors conventions on a wide range of labor issues.
The labor organization has called for new international legal standards on child labor that would halt slavery and slavery-like practices, forced labor and debt bondage.
The standards also would prevent children from being used in prostitution and pornography or any activity likely to jeopardize their health or morals.
The new child labor convention would call for criminal penalties, specify preventative measures and rehabilitation of child victims.
ILO has found through surveys that one-quarter of all children ages 5 to 14 are working, with many of them doing hazardous jobs.
“Children are employed simply because they are cheaper and more compliant than adults,” said Neal Kearney, general-secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation.
Newly freed Indonesian labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan is expected to attend the meeting after spending time in jail on civil unrest charges.