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Central African Republic


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2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, the Central African Republic made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography in October 2012. Although the Government had previously signed an agreement to demobilize child soldiers, armed groups on all sides of the conflict increased the use of child soldiers. Needed legal protections against child labor were not adopted. In addition, although the Government had an agreement with UNICEF to implement a general action plan to protect children, research found no evidence that policies and programs to combat child labor were implemented. Children continue to be engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including being used as child soldiers and in dangerous work in agriculture.

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Learn More: List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor in Chad | Previous Reports:



Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including being used as child soldiers in armed groups.(3-7) Children are also commonly engaged in dangerous work in agriculture.(8, 9) Although evidence on children’s involvement in the production of particular agricultural products is limited, there is reason to believe that children are engaged in work on cotton, coffee, cassava, and peanut farms under conditions that amount to the worst forms of child labor.(6, 10, 11) Children working in agriculture may use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides.(12, 13) Although information is limited, there are reports that children are also engaged in dangerous work in fishing.(8, 9) Although the extent of the problem is unknown, children engaged in fishing may work long hours, perform physically demanding tasks, and face dangers such a drowning.(12, 14)

Children work under dangerous conditions in diamond mines. In addition, although the extent of the problem is unknown, there are reports that children are also found working in gold mines.(11, 15-18) Children working in mines transport and wash gravel, dig pits, use sieves, and carry heavy loads.(11, 15-18) Reportedly, the hard physical labor associated with these activities may result in exhaustion or injury, including hernias. In addition, collapsed pit walls may result in injury or death.(17) Furthermore, the potential economic gain from mining encourages children to work instead of going to school.(17)

Many children also work long hours as domestic servants.(19, 20) Children employed as domestics may be required to work long hours, performing strenuous tasks without sufficient food or shelter. These children may be isolated in private homes and are susceptible to physical and sexual abuse.(21, 22) Ba’aka children are forced into both agricultural labor and domestic service.(6, 19)

Children are involved in commercial sexual exploitation.(10, 20, 23) Some children have also been forced to work as porters, including carrying stolen goods for criminal groups.(6, 15)

During the reporting period, because of protracted conflict, spillover violence from neighboring countries and rebel groups, the Government had little control in the countryside, particularly after rebel groups threatened the capital in December 2012, forcing the Government to agree to talks to form a coalition government.(3, 6, 24-28) According to the UN, in December 2012 the Government called on youth to arm themselves and protect the city by creating neighborhood security groups. There are also reports that CAR’s armed forces used children in Bangui.(29-31) In March 2013, Seleka rebels, a coalition of several rebel groups, took control the capital, ousted the sitting President, and formed a new Government.(32, 33) Reportedly, the Seleka rebels deployed child soldiers during the fighting to capture Bangui.(32, 34) The UN reports that the ongoing conflict has resulted in an increase of boys and girls being forced into armed groups to serve as child soldiers, carry supplies, and be sexually exploited.(35, 36)

Children are also abducted for forced labor and/or soldiering by rebel groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel force that has moved into CAR.(3-5, 37-40) The LRA forces children to work as soldiers, sex slaves, and porters.(6, 40) During the reporting period, there were multiple reports of children being abducted by the LRA, including in March 2012 when the UN reports at least six children were abducted.(29, 31) Children also are recruited and used by other indigenous rebel groups such as theConvention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR).(3-6, 12, 25, 37, 41) In 2012, the CPJP and UFDR recruited children and used them as guards at roadblocks, messengers, and cooks. In addition, on October 16, 2012, the UN reports that 40 to 50 armed children were seen with CPJP elements.(29, 31)

In some cases, especially in areas where there is no national army or police force present, villages and towns have formed self-defense groups to protect themselves from attacks by rebel groups and bandits. UNICEF estimates one-third of the members of these groups are children who serve as combatants, lookouts, and porters.(3, 4, 12) UNICEF reports that even before the recent increase in child soldier recruitment, an estimated 2,500 children were associated with multiple armed groups, including community self-defense groups.(35, 42) During the first half of 2012, the UN reports that self-defense groups in the LRA-affected communities of Rafai, Zemio, and Obo used children to patrol villages.(29)

CAR is a source and destination country for trafficked children. Along with children trafficked by the LRA, children are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation, domestic service, work in agriculture, restaurants, and markets, and mining, including diamond mines.(20, 39, 41) Children are trafficked from CAR to West and Central Africa for similar purposes.(41)

There are reports of children working on the streets, but specific information on hazards is unknown.(6, 19, 23)



Laws and Regulations on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14. Children who are at least age 12 may engage in light work in some forms of agriculture or domestic service.(43, 44) Children younger than age 18 are prohibited from working between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and from working in mines.(44-46). However, the Labor Code, including the above mentioned age, hours, and mining prohibitions, does not apply to children who are self-employed.(18)

The Labor Code also prohibits the procurement or offering of a child for prostitution and the production of pornography.(47) The Penal Code includes a prohibition against assisting in or profiting from prostitution and human trafficking.(20, 48) However, neither code prohibits the possession and distribution of child pornography.(20, 47)

Education is compulsory until age 15.(15) Tuition is free, but students must pay for their own supplies, books, and transportation. The cost of these associated fees may be prohibitive for some students and the inability to attend school may increase these children’s risk of involvement in the worst forms of child labor.(10)

The Labor Code prohibits all forms of slavery, forced labor, and bonded labor. It also bans forced or compulsory recruitment of children in armed conflict and the use of children for illicit purposes.(47) The minimum age for compulsory or voluntary recruitment into the Government Armed Forces in CAR is 18.(4, 49)

The Government ratified the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography in October 2012.(50)



Institutional Mechanisms for Coordination and Enforcement

The National Council for the Protection of Children is charged with coordinating policies and strategies to protect children, including from sexual exploitation and child soldiering.(12, 20, 48) However, research found no evidence of a body that coordinates Government efforts to combat all forms of child labor.

The Ministry of Labor is charged with monitoring and enforcing laws related to forced and hazardous child labor.(20) However, as noted by the ILO Committee of Experts, there has not been a labor administrator to coordinate efforts since 1999.(44, 51) There is also no system in place for the Ministry to track child labor complaints.(20, 44, 51)

Information was not available on the number of labor inspectors employed by the Ministry of Labor in the Labor Inspectorate Unit, whether labor inspectors received any training on child labor, or whether inspectors have the necessary resources to conduct their inspections. However, in previous years, training for labor inspectors did not include any specific information on child labor and the inspectors lacked resources necessary to carry out inspections, including funds for transportation, and in some cases, chairs, desks, doors, and lights for their offices, some of which are inaccessible due to flooding when it rains.(20, 44, 51, 52) Given the state of insecurity in CAR during the reporting period, it seems unlikely these gaps were addressed. The Ministry conducted a study in 2008 with support from UNICEF that concluded that inspections are not conducted in a manner that effectively prevents child labor.(20)

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ), in coordination with security forces, is responsible for the oversight and investigation of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, child trafficking, and the use of children in illicit activities. Information was not available on the MOJ’s efforts to protect children, the number of arrests and prosecutions involving children victims, or whether punishments were consistent with those prescribed by law.(44) However, in previous years, the MOJ did not provide its officers with any training in these areas and they lacked sufficient office facilities and transportation to carry out investigations.(44) The Government did not have any means to identify victims of trafficking and was unable to provide data on the number of arrests and prosecutions of those involved in trafficking children, or in using them in commercial sexual exploitation or other illicit activities.(20, 41) Again, given the state of insecurity in CAR during the reporting period, it seems unlikely these gaps were addressed during 2012.

A senior inspector from the Gendarmes, a military force charged with civilian policing, has been tasked by the Deputy Minister of Defense to investigate reports of child soldiers in self-defense militias.(53) However, there is no information on whether enforcement actions have been taken that relate to child soldiers.



Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has a National Action Plan to Combat Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, which includes measures to address sex trafficking. The Government also has a separate Action Plan designed to combat trafficking in persons, including child trafficking.(53) However, the CEACR has urged the Government to adopt a comprehensive policy to combat all worst forms of child labor.(18)

CAR is a signatory to the N’Djamena Declaration, which represents a commitment among the signatory countries to eliminate the use of child soldiers in their territories.(39) CAR has also signed a General Action Plan with UNICEF for the protection of children.(47, 48, 54) As a member of the African Union, CAR is party to the Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children, which was designed to provide AU members with support from IOM, ECOWAS, and UNODC to streamline efforts against trafficking by outlining concrete actions that states should take to fight human trafficking.(55) Research did not identify any steps that the Government has taken to address child soldiering.

The Government has a National Action Plan for Education and a National Poverty Reduction Strategy.(47, 56, 57) The National Action Plan for Education calls for informal schools in rural areas in order to permit children ages 8 to 15 who have never been to school before to access education.(56) There appears to be no research addressing the impact of this policy on child labor. Nonetheless, there is a severe lack of schools and teachers especially in rural areas, which prevents some children from accessing education.(15, 47, 58) Furthermore, in January 2013 the UN reported that at least 166,000 students were being denied access to schools due to the ongoing conflict.(36, 42)



Social Programs to Eliminate or Prevent the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Research found no evidence of programs to address the multitude of children engaged in the worst forms of child labor, or to prevent children from entering such work.



Based on the reporting above, the following actions would advance the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in the Central African Republic:

Area

Suggested Actions

Year(s) Action Recommended

Laws and Regulations

Amend the Labor Code to

· Cover self-employed children.

· Prohibit possession and distribution of child pornography.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Eliminate the fees associated with education to increase the number of children able to access schooling, and take measures to ensure safe schools and adequate numbers of teachers and schools.

2010, 2011, 2012

Coordination and Enforcement

Establish a body to coordinate government efforts to combat all worst forms of child labor, or expand the purview of the National Council for the Protection of Children in this regard.

2011, 2012

Provide adequate resources to enforce laws against the worst forms of child labor, including by training personnel, adding to budgetary resources, and providing office facilities.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Create an inspection system that monitors and tracks reported cases of the worst forms of child labor.

2010, 2011, 2012

Complete an investigation of militias’ and local defense groups’ use of child soldiers, publish the results, and, based on this information, take vigorous steps to end this practice and rehabilitate victims.

2010, 2011, 2012

Create a system to identify child victims of trafficking and provide them with adequate shelter and protection.

2010, 2011, 2012

Policies

Assess the impact that existing policies may have on addressing child labor.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Social Programs

Implement programs that provide services to withdraw and protect children from the worst forms of child labor, particularly in child soldiering and agriculture.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

 



1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total.; accessed February 4, 2013; http://www.uis.unesco.org/Pages/default.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

2. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. February 5, 2013. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children’s work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

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12. International Labour Office. Children in hazardous work: What we know, What we need to do. Geneva, International Labour Office, 2011. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/pulic/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_155428.pdf. While country-specific information on the dangers children face in fishing is not available, research studies and other reports have documented the dangerous nature of tasks in fishing and their accompanying occupational exposures, injuries and potential health consequences to children working in the sector.

13. International Labour Office. Farming, International Labour Organization, [online] January 31, 2012 [cited October 26, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/agriculture/WCMS_172416/lang--en/index.htm.

14. International Labour Office. Fishing and Aquaculture, International Labour Organization, [online] January 31, 2012 [cited October 26, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/agriculture/WCMS_172419/lang--en/index.htm.

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19. International Trade Union Confederation. Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards in the Central African Republic. Geneva; June 11, 2007.

20. U.S. Embassy- Bangui. reporting, January 27, 2011.

21. International Labour Office. Children in hazardous work: What we know, What we need to do. Geneva, International Labour Office, 2011. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/pulic/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_155428.pdf. While country-specific information on the dangers children face in domestic work is not available, research studies and other reports have documented the dangerous nature of tasks in domestic work and their accompanying occupational exposures, injuries and potential health consequences to children working in the sector.

22. International Labour Office. Domestic Labour, International Labour Organization [online] January 31, 2012 [cited October 26, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/childdomesticlabour/lang--en/index.htm.

23. Bamford, E. "Growing up in the streets of Bangui." hdptcar.net [online] September 25, 2007 [cited January 29, 2012]; http://hdptcar.net/blog/2007/09/25/growing-up-in-the-streets-of-bangui/.

24. UN OCHA. "CAR: More than 21,000 displaced by LRA violence, new OCHA map reveals." unoocha.org [online] November 22, 2011 [cited March 22, 2013]; http://www.unocha.org/top-stories/all-stories/car-more-21000-displaced-lra-violence-new-ocha-map-reveals.

25. CIA. "Central African Republic," in The World Factbook. Washington, DC; February 14, 2013; https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ct.html.

26. US Embassy official - Bangui. Interview with USDOL official. February 22, 2013.

27. BBC News. "Q&A: Central African Republic's rebellion." bbc.co.uk [online] January 11, 2013 2013 [cited March 5, 2013]; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20798007.

28. BBC News. "Central African Republic to hold talks with rebels." bbc.co.uk [online] December 28, 2012 2012 [cited March 5, 2013]; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20862637.

29. UN official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. November-December 2012.

30. UN official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 4, 2013.

31. UN Office of the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Central African Republic, UN, [online] May 15, 2013 [cited June 12, 2013]; http://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/countries/car.

32. Smith, D. "Central African Republic rebel leader announces post-coup government." The Guardian, April 1, 2013. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/01/central-african-republic-leader-government.

33. Washington Post. "Rebel leader appoints new government in Central African Republic." Washington Post, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2013. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-31/world/38170993_1_rebel-leader-michel-djotodia-bangui.

34. The Times of India. "Child soldiers killed in Central African Republic, South African troops claim." The Times of India, March 31, 2013. http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-03-31/rest-of-world/38162366_1_eccas-seleka-rebels-13-soldiers.

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44. U.S. Embassy- Bangui. reporting, February 17, 2010.

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47. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Central African Republic (ratification: 2000) Submitted: 2011; accessed January 28, 2013; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:1:0::NO:::.

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