India is among the only 14 countries to have made significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour in 2017, an official US report said Saturday. “In 2017, India made a significant advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labour,” the US Department of Labor said in its annual ‘Child Labour and Forced Labour’ report.

It said the Findings on the ‘Worst Forms of Child Labour’, mandated by the Trade and Development Act of 2000, is the most comprehensive research product on the state of child labour worldwide. This year, the report uses more stringent criteria to assess the efforts of 132 countries and territories to address child labour, the report added.

“Only 14 countries — including Colombia, Paraguay, and India — met the new criteria for “Significant Advancement”, which this year requires specific legal and policy labour standards to be met,” it said.

The Department of Labor said the Indian government ratified both ILO Convention 182 and Convention 138 and amended the Child Labor Act to prohibit children under the age of 18 years from working in hazardous occupations and processes. The government also launched the ‘Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour’ to more effectively enforce child labour laws and implement the ‘National Child Labour Programme’.

In addition, the government released a new ‘National Plan of Action for Children’ that implements the ‘National Policy for Children’, which includes a focus on child labourers, trafficked children, and other vulnerable children, the report said. “However, children in India engage in the worst forms of child labour, including in forced labour producing garments and quarrying stones,” the report rued, adding that children also perform dangerous tasks of producing bricks.

The Child Labour Act’s hazardous work prohibitions do not include all occupations in which children work in unsafe and unhealthy environments for long periods of time. Penalties for employing children are insufficient to deter violations, and the recruitment of children by non-state armed groups is not criminally prohibited, it said.

The report urges the Indian government to collect and publish national-level data on labour law enforcement, including funding, number of labour inspectors, number of violations found and the penalties imposed and collected for child labour law violations.

“Ensure that the types of hazardous work prohibited for children under age 18 are comprehensive, especially in the sectors in which children work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions for long periods of time such as in spinning mills, garment production, carpet making and domestic work,” it said.

“These reports represent one of the Department of Labor’s key contributions to the global effort to protect workers in the United States and around the world by defending the rights of all people to live free of child labour, forced labour, human trafficking, and modern slavery,” said US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

Recent International Labor Organization estimates show there are still over 152 million child labourers — one in every ten children — and 25 million forced labourers worldwide, he said.