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Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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Saint Kitts and Nevis

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138  
Ratified Convention 182 10/12/2000 X
ILO-IPEC Member  
National Plan for Children  
National Child Labor Action Plan  
Sector Action Plan  
Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children in St. Kitts and Nevis are unavailable[3427], and there is limited information on the nature of child labor.  Children work in agriculture and domestic service, usually to help their families.  Domestic work is not viewed as exploitive for children by society.[3428]  According to the World Bank, children are reportedly involved in commercial sexual exploitation in order to pay for basic needs, such as food.[3429]  Children may also be involved in pornography, prostitution, and the distribution of drugs.[3430]

Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 years.[3431]  Recent primary school attendance statistics are not available for Saint Kitts and Nevis. In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 117.3 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 95.5 percent.[3432]  Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance.  Primary schools suffer from high rates of truancy, high dropout rates and poor literacy skills (for boys especially), absence of relevant learning materials, and insufficient numbers of trained, qualified teachers.[3433]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The 1966 Employment of Children Ordinance and the Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act were both amended in 2002 to set the minimum legal working age at 16 years.[3434]  In 1999, the government began reviewing the child labor laws in an effort to incorporate them into a national Labor Code.  The Employment of Children Ordinance and the Constitution prohibit slavery, servitude and forced labor. [3435]

Although there is no comprehensive anti-trafficking law, trafficking can be prosecuted under various provisions of the Penal Code.[3436]  Procurement of persons by threats, fraud, or administrating drugs for prostitution is illegal.[3437]  Kidnapping or abduction of a female under the age of 16 for sexual purposes is considered a misdemeanor offense and punishable by 2 years of imprisonment.[3438]  Engaging in sexual relations with a girl under 14 years is considered a felony, and offenders over 16 years can be sentenced to imprisonment for life.[3439]  Engaging in sexual relations with girls between 14 and 15 years of age is considered a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a prison term of not more than 2 years with or without hard labor.  These offenses are punishable up to 1 year after the incident.[3440]

The Ministry of Labor of St. Kitts and Nevis is responsible for investigating child labor complaints.[3441]  The Ministry of Labor relies on school truancy officers and its community affairs division to monitor compliance with child labor provisions.[3442] 

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2004, The World Bank, in partnership with CARICOM and other international donor organizations, launched a regional HIV/AIDS prevention project active in Saint Kitts and Nevis.  This project contains a component focused on prevention of HIV transmission among young people.  It will provide support to orphans, increase access to HIV/AIDS prevention and services for out of school youth, integrate HIV/AIDS information into reproductive health programs, and promote peer counseling for youth, parents and teachers.  The first phase of this project is expected to end in 2007.[3443]

In 2002, the Caribbean Development Bank approved a USD 3 million loan to the government to provide training for Ministry of Education staff, school principals, and teachers.  The loan was for acquiring new sites for schools, the construction or rehabilitation of 13 existing primary and secondary schools, new equipment, and technical assistance for the projects.[3444]  The government initiated the construction of its seventh new high school in January 2004.[3445]  The Caribbean Development Bank is planning to fund a proposed project to reform the juvenile justice system, develop life management training classes in schools, and rehabilitate facilities that house juvenile offenders.[3446]

In 2002, the Ministry of Education acquired funding from The World Bank to make secondary schools more accessible to a larger proportion of the population through the construction of additional schools, improvement of the curriculum and quality of teaching, provision of books and other education materials, funding of fellowships, and other programs targeting disadvantaged youth.  This program, expected to end in 2008, will encourage greater parental involvement in the education of their children.[3447] 

[3427] LABORSTAT, 1A- Total and economically active population, by age group (Thousands) [Database], Geneva, 2004; available from

[3428] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2003: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6d; available from

[3429] The World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed IDA Grant in the Amount of SDR 6.1 Million Equivalent to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for The Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS Project, The World Bank, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2004; available from

[3430] U.S. Embassy- Bridgetown, unclassified telegram no. 1791, September 2001.

[3431] Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis, The Education Act, No. 18 of 1975, (July 31, 1975). See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2003: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Section 5.

[3432] The World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004. For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definitions of gross primary enrollment rate and gross primary attendance rate in the glossary of this report.

[3433] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Saint Kitts and Nevis, CRC/C/15/Add.104, Geneva, August 24, 1999, para. 28; available from

[3434] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2002: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Section 6d. Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003; available from

[3435] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2003: Saint Kitts and Nevis. Section 6d. See also Constitution of Saint Christopher and Nevis, 1983, Article 6 (1), (2), (June 22, 1983); available from

[3436] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2003: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Section 6f.

[3437] Criminal Code, Section 2; available from

[3438] Ibid., Section 6.

[3439] Ibid., Section 3.

[3440] Ibid., Section 4.

[3441] U.S. Embassy- Bridgetown, unclassified telegram no. 1791. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2003: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Section 6d.

[3442] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports- 2003: Saint Kitts and Nevis, Section 6d.

[3443] The World Bank, Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Loan in the Amount of US$4.045 Million to St. Kitts/Nevis, 25210-SC, Washington, D.C., December 13, 2002; available from

[3444] Caribbean Development Bank, Additional Financing for a Basic Education Project in St. Kitts and Nevis, press release, October 22, 2002; available from

[3445] The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, Saddlers school will be 7th High School established under a Labour Government, press release, Basseterre, January 25, 2004; available from

[3446] Caribbean Development Bank, Pipeline Projects, Caribbean Development Bank, [online] n.d. [cited August 11, 2004]; available from

[3447] Project Appraisal Document (OECS) Education Development Program, The World Bank, Washington, D.C., May 15, 2002; available from