Myanmar to end forced labour

Myanmar has signed an agreement with the International Labour Organization to end forced labour by 2015, state media reported on Saturday.

Adults and youngsters pressed into working for the army are the most serious forced-labour issue in Myanmar, according to the International Labor Organization.

Deputy Labour Minister Myint Thein signed the memorandum of understanding with an ILO liaison officer on Friday in the new capital Naypyidaw, The New Light of Myanmar reported.

"Myanmar has signed MoUs with ILO and has been cooperating with ILO in combating the forced labour and is committed to eradicate it from the country by 2015," the official newspaper said.

The new government has surprised observers with reforms including talks with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the release of hundreds of political prisoners since the end of nearly five decades of military rule last year.

In June last year, the ILO's branch in Rangoon said it had received 506 complaints related to forced labour since the start of 2010 -- more than double the number seen during the previous three years.

However, it said the increase mainly reflected "awareness-raising activities" to ensure people knew their rights.

The ILO has said it had found a pattern of forced labour caused by a lack of proper funding for projects demanded from rural authorities.

But the main problem involved adults and youngsters pressed into working for the army.

In 2007, the then ruling military junta bowed to pressure from the UN labour agency and allowed an official, based in Rangoon, to deal with complaints from victims on issues related to forced labour and underage army recruitment.

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