Thanks to Ugandan Alex Turyaritunga‘s allegations, the BBC was able establish that in that country, the Catholic Church has businesses that profit from child labor exploitation:
Child labour is without doubt a big issue in Uganda, where the UN estimates that there are three million child workers. The latest figures estimate that 30% of children aged between five and 14 are engaged in child labour, despite 14 being the earliest age where it is legal for a child to work.
When we arrived in Kabale, we were introduced to a supervisor at the enterprise who spoke to us on the condition that we kept his identity secret.
The supervisor told us that children did work on the farm.
Their pay ranged from 1,000 Ugandan shillings (20p; $0.30) to 2,000 Ugandan shillings per day.
The supervisor said that the land was owned by the Roman Catholic Church but it was in business with the supervisor’s employer: Kigezi Highland Tea Limited.
When the BBC team visited the farm there were up to 15 children working along with adults from the local community.
Their work consisted of gathering young tea plants stacked at the bottom of a steep hill and carrying them up the steep hill to the location of the desired point of cultivation. Children were also tasked with weeding the rows of tea plants.
In an effort to determine exactly who owned the plantation, we went to the local land registry and sought proof that the land belonged to the Church.
A local Catholic Church official confirmed to us that there had been “a business deal between the diocese and Kigezi Highland Tea” since 2013.
The official said that the decision to harvest tea came “through the financial sustainability plan committee” of the diocese.
Armed with a copy of the land deeds, we decided to put our findings to Bishop Callistus Rubaramira, of the Catholic diocese of Kabale.
Just outside his residence, on Church property, we came across more children, one of whom was 10 years old, unloading tea seedlings from a truck. They were preparing for the next day’s work.
Cuando tratamos de contactar al Obispo en su diócesis, se nos dijo que se estaba preparando para reunirse con el Papa. Las llamadas a su móvil también quedaron sin respuesta.
El padre Lucien, su secretario, negó que se llevara a cabo trabajo infantil en la plantación de té.
Así que llamamos el Vaticano en cambio y le mostramos la evidencia al portavoz del Papa, Federico Lombardi.
When we tried to contact the Bishop in his diocese, we were told that he was preparing to meet the pope. Calls to his mobile also went unanswered.
Father Lucien, his secretary, denied that child labour was taking place on the tea plantation.
So we called the Vatican instead and put our evidence to the Pope’s spokesman, Federico Lombardi.
“I deny to have responsibility and duty to answer about this – if there is problem for the local church, I am not responsible for that”, he told us.
Sure, because in their scale of priorities child labor exploitation is nothing compared to letting gays get married or Charlie Hebdo‘s pesky drawings.
Wow, who could argue that they have the moral high ground?