BBC Claims Catholic Church Benefits From Child Labor In Uganda

Written by Kevin Mwanza

The Catholic Church is allegedly using child laborers at a plantation it owns in Uganda, the BBC has claimed in an investigative report.

According to the report the church, which now has more than 200 million followers in Africa, uses children as young as 10 years to collect tea at a plantation in Kabale, a town in the hills of south-west Uganda.

The plantation is managed by Kigezi Highland Tea Limited through a deal with the Catholic Church, which owns the land.

The report comes only a few months after Pope Francis’ historical tour of Africa in November, in which he visited Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

During his November visit to Africa, the continent which now counts nearly 200m Roman Catholics, Pope Francis said that children were some of the greatest victims of Africa’s historical exploitation by other powers. He also urged young Africans to resist corruption. But should the Vatican be doing more to put its own house in order?  – BBC

Pope Francis said ‘Tens of millions of children are forced to work in degrading conditions, exposed to forms of slavery and exploitation, as well as to abuse, ill-treatment and discrimination,’ and appealed for an end to child labour.

Allegations of child labour by the church in Uganda were first made by Alex Turyaritunga, a former child soldier during the Rwandan genocide, who had first hand experience of child exploitation.

Turyaritunga,  now a nurse with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Uganda, was raised in Kabale and after the death of his father, members of the Catholic Church helped his mother pay for his education and that of his four siblings.

“I feel the Vatican should wake up and revise the business policy of the Catholic Church – or else there is going to be danger,” He told BBC.

The UN estimates that there are three million child workers in the East African country in which the latest figures estimate that 30 percent of children aged between 5 and 14 are engaged in child labour.