1. Child Labor in Haiti
In 1998, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that 24 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Haiti were working.817 Children work as domestic servants and in streets trades, assist their families in subsistence agriculture, and are drawn into commercial sexual exploitation.818 Child labor in Haiti is generally non-existent in the industrial and commercial agriculture sectors because of high adult unemployment.819
A 1997 UNICEF study estimated that there were some 250,000 to 300,000 child domestic workers in Haiti, 80 percent of whom were girls under the age of 14.820 In Haiti, child domestic workers are commonly referred to as restaveks , a Creole word meaning “to stay with.” They are among the most vulnerable and exploited of all children in Haiti. Isolated from family and peers, restavek children are largely unprotected from abuse.821
According to UNICEF, most restaveks reach the age of 15 without ever having been to school.822 Most restaveks work 10 to 14 hours per day and do not receive any compensation for their work.823 They are often psychologically and physically punished by the master or mistress of the house and sometimes even by their children.824 Girl restaveks are sometimes sexually abused by the males in the employing families. If a girl becomes pregnant, she will generally be released into the streets. Many such girls become street children or prostitutes.825
In the neighboring Dominican Republic, between 10,000 to 14,000 Haitian workers are contracted annually to work in the sugarcane industry where Haitian children are found working, particularly in the Barahona province.826
2. Children’s Participation in School
Between the years of 1994 and 1995, the primary gross attendance rate was 141.6 percent, and primary net attendance rate was 70.8 percent.827 Recent estimates on primary school enrollment rates are unavailable.828 However, 70 percent of the children in school are reportedly over-aged for their grade.829 The majority of enrolled children drop out of school, sometimes several times.830 In 1998, 64 percent of school children passed the primary school-leaving exam and completed grade five. By 1999 and 2000, this number had fallen to 45 percent.831 On average, children complete six years of schooling when they are 18 years of age.832 About 23 percent of children who attend school finish secondary school.833
Some 500,000 children in Haiti do not attend school.834 Private institutions account for 90 percent of primary schools and 75 percent of primary school gross enrollment.
There are no fees to attend public school, but the cost of uniforms, books, and the required contribution of 50 gourdes (US$2) for the school year prevent many parents from sending their children to school.835 Schooling costs per child account for as much as 15 percent of family income,836 and students who attend private school must pay for tuition in addition to the costs for books, and uniforms.837
3. Child Labor Law and Enforcement
Haiti’s Labor Code (Article 335) states that the minimum employment age in all sectors is 15 years, except in the case of children working in domestic service.838 The Labor Code (Article 341) sets the minimum employment age for domestic work at 12 years of age. All working children between the ages of 15 and 18 must be registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs.839
The Labor Code prohibits minors from working under dangerous conditions and prohibits children under the age of 18 from working at night in industrial enterprises. Penalties for child labor violations are 1,000 to 3,000 gourdes (US$42 to US$126).840
The Ministry of Social Affairs’ Institute of Welfare and Research (IBESR) has the authority and the mandate to protect children. The IBESR has approximately 12 social service workers working throughout the Port-au-Prince Metropolitan area.843
4. Addressing Child Labor and Promoting Schooling
a. Child Labor Initiatives
In December 1999, the Government of Haiti signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Labor Organization’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC).844 As part of Haiti’s participation in ILO-IPEC, a National Steering Committee on child labor has been established, which is charged with preparing a national plan of action on child labor.845
The Ministry of Social Affairs implements a program called SOS Timoun,846 under which the IBESR works in collaboration with the “Service de la Protection de Mineurs” to withdraw children from abusive households. Since its inception, the program has registered 250 calls from institutions, police commissariats, distressed children, individuals, and radio and television stations.847 The program has withdrawn 240 children, including children in domestic work.848 Of the child domestic servants withdrawn from abusive situations, 19 were sent to a receiving home or shelter, while 14 were reunited with their parents.849
With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor, ILO-IPEC is coordinating a 3-year country program in Haiti to benefit children working as domestic servants. The government and ILO-IPEC are also collaborating with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to conduct a survey on child domestic work. The survey on child domestics will provide qualitative and quantitative information which will be used to prepare a national plan of action to eliminate child domestic service.850
b. Educational Alternatives
Primary schooling is supposed to be free and compulsory in Haiti.851 Haiti has launched a program called “Ed 2004” with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and other donors to improve the quality of primary education. The Ed 2004 program has established a public private partnership commission to reform national educational policy in order to foster increased collaboration between private and public school and promotes resource sharing between schools.852
The Ed 2004 program also aims to address the needs of orphans and other at-risk children, to improve non-formal education, and to improve access to information and communications technology.853 As part of ED 2004, a Food Aid program has been instituted in nearly 2,000 schools.854
The Ministry of Education works with NGOs to implement educational initiatives such as Gestion de Proximite. This initiative provides children with access to education and helps link schools to communities, by supporting the idea that schools should be open to parents and the community.855
From 1995 to 2000, the proportion of the national budget allocated to primary and secondary education increased from 13.5 percent to 20.1 percent.856 In 2001, the Government of Haiti allocated 16 percent of its budget to the Ministry of National Education.857
5. Selected Data on Government Expenditures
The following bar chart presents selected government expenditures expressed as a percentage of gross national product (GNP). The chart considers government expenditures on education, the military, health care, and debt service. Where figures are available, the portion of government spending on education that is specifically dedicated to primary education is also shown.858
While it is difficult to draw conclusions or discern clear correlations between areas of government expenditure as a percentage of GNP and the incidence of child labor in a country, this chart and the related tables presented in Appendix B (Tables 14 through 19) offer the reader a basis for considering the relative emphasis placed on each spending area by the governments in each of the 33 countries profiled in the report.
817 World Development Indicators 2000 .
818 Interview with Cecile D. Francoise, vice president, Coalition Haitienne Pour La Défense des Droit de L’enfant (COHADDE), by U.S. Department of Labor official, August 3, 2000.
819 U.S. Embassy-Port au Prince, unclassified telegram no. 003160, June 3, 1997.
820 UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children , 1997 (New York: UNICEF, 1996), 30. See also “Haiti Faces Major Education Challenge,” UNICEF Information Newsline, at www.unicef.org/newsline/99pr16.html.
821 National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), Our Hope for Our Children (New York: NCHR, 1999).
822 NCHR, “Helping Child Servants Who Are Virtual Slaves” (www.unicef.org/media/storyideas/946.htm), updated November 30, 2000; cited October 26, 2001.
825 Statement by Jean Robert Cadet on Restavek Servitude before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, 25 th Session (Geneva, June 2000) [document on file].
826 Interview with Agustin Vargas-Saillant, Domingo Jimenez, and Rufino Alvarez, Unitary Confederation of Workers (CTU and Futrazona), Dominican Republic by U.S. Department of Labor official, August 29, 2000.
827 USAID, GED 2000: Global Education Database [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2000.
828 World Development Indicators.
829 Interview with Mr. Paul Bien-Aime, Minister of Education, by U.S. Department of Labor official (August 1, 2000) [hereinafter Bien-Aime interview].
830 USAID, “FY2002 Haiti Activity Data Sheet” (http://www.usaid.gov/country/lac/ht/521-004.html), October 1, 2001 [hereinafter “FY2002 Haiti Activity Data Sheet”].
832 Bien-Aime interview.
833 Interview with Ms. Lyne Godmaire, responsible for the Education Section, UNICEF, by U.S. Department of Labor official, August 2, 2000.
834 Bien-Aime interview.
836 “FY2002 Haiti Activity Data Sheet.”
837 U.S. Embassy-Port au Prince, unclassified telegram no. 003035, October 31, 2000. See also Bien-Aime interview.
838 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999—Haiti (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 1999), Section 6d [hereinafter Country Reports 1999—Haiti ].
839 Républic d’ Haiti Ministère des Affaires Sociales, “Eléments d’Informations sur le Travail des Enfants” (Geneva: Haitian Mission to the United Nations), 1.
840 Code du Travail de la Republique D’haiti (Port-au-Prince: Presses de L’université Quisqueya, December 1992), 143-46.
841 Country Reports 1999—Haiti at Section 6d.
843 Interview with the Minister of Social Affairs, Madame Mathilde Flambert, and the Chef du Cabinet, Mr. Pierre Richard Painson, by U.S. Department of Labor official (August 3, 2000).
844 ILO-IPEC, Combatting the Exploitation of Child Domestics in Haiti, Technical Progress Report, project no. INT/95/M05/USA, May 2000 [document on file].
845 Electronic correspondence from ILO-IPEC Regional Office in San Jose, Costa Rica, to U.S. Department of Labor official, October 24, 2001 [document on file].
846 Interview with the Minister of Social Affairs, Madame Mathilde Flambert and the Chef du Cabinet, Mr. Pierre Richard Painson, by U.S. Department of Labor official (August 3, 2000). See also electronic correspondence from Department of State official to Department of Labor official, October 13, 2000 [document on file].
847 Electronic correspondence from Department of State official to Department of Labor official, October 13, 2000 [document on file].
850 ILO-IPEC, Combatting the Exploitation of Child Domestics in Haiti, ILO-IPEC project document, January 1, 1999 [document on file].
851 Country Reports 1999—Haiti at Section 5. Bien-Aime interview.
852 “FY2002 Haiti Activity Data Sheet.”
855 Bien-Aime interview. See PNEF Le Plan National d’Education et de Formation (Port au Prince, May 1998), 73.
856 Electronic correspondence from Department of State official to Department of Labor official, October 18, 2000 [document on file].
857 “FY2002 Haiti Activity Data Sheet.”
858 See Chapter 1, Section C, 5, for a fuller discussion of the information presented in the box. See also Appendix B for further discussion, and Tables 14 through 19 for figures on government expenditure over a range of years.