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Djibouti

2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Minimal Advancement

In 2013, Djibouti made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government hired three labor inspectors and developed a national strategy that seeks to protect vulnerable populations and the rights of children. With support from the IOM, Djibouti continues to combat trafficking and hosts a center for assisting migrants. However, children in Djibouti continue to engage in child labor in street work and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Significant gaps remain in the legal framework on child labor, and the Government has not established a coordinating mechanism to address child labor. Neither law enforcement efforts nor programs to assist working children are adequate.

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I. Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of Child Labor

Children in Djibouti are engaged in child labor in street work and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Child labor in Djibouti varies in urban and rural settings; however, in both, it largely takes place in the informal sector.(1) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Djibouti.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education
Working children, ages 5 to 14 (% and population): 12.3 (23,693)
School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%): 67.4
Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%): 10.2
Primary completion rate (%): 52.0

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2013, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014. (2)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from MICS3 Survey, 2006. (3)

Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children's Work by Sector and Activity
Sector/Industry Activity
Agriculture Herding livestock (1, 4)
Agriculture, activities unknown* (4)
Services Working as domestic servants (1, 4)
Street work, including shining shoes, washing and guarding cars, selling items, cleaning storefronts, sorting merchandise, collecting garbage, and begging (1, 4)
Working in restaurants and small shops (1, 4)
Selling the narcotic, khat (1, 4)
Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡ Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1, 5)
Domestic service as a result of human trafficking (1, 4, 5)
Forced begging and theft* (4, 5)

*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.

Children's work occurs predominantly in urban areas, where the majority of the Djiboutian population is concentrated.(1, 6) A small number of refugees, Ethiopian and Somali migrants, and girls from poor Djiboutian families are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation in Djibouti City and along trucking routes on the Ethiopia-Djibouti corridor.(1, 5) Limited evidence suggests younger children are sometimes involve younger children in exploited in commercial sexual exploitation by older children.(5)



II. Legal Framework for the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Djibouti has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor
Convention Ratification
ILO C. 138, Minimum Age
ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor
UN CRC
UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict
UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4).

Table 4. Laws and Regulations Related to Child Labor
Standard Yes/No Age Related Legislation
Minimum Age for Work Yes 16 Labor Code (7)
Minimum Age for Hazardous Work No    
List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children No    
Prohibition of Forced Labor Yes   Penal Code (1)
Prohibition of Child Trafficking Yes   Law 210 Regarding the Fight Against Human Trafficking (8)
Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Yes   Penal Code (1)
Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities Yes   Penal Code (1)
Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment N/A*    
Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service Yes 18 Establishment of the National Army Amendment Decree (1, 9)
Compulsory Education Age Yes 16 Law on the Orientation of the Education System (10)
Free Public Education Yes   Law on the Orientation of the Education System (10)

*No conscription or no standing military.

Djiboutian law does not define hazardous work or clearly establish a minimum age for it. Additionally, the Government has not developed a list of hazardous occupations prohibited to children.(11)

Research uncovered no evidence that the law prohibits the purchase of child pornography. While education in Djibouti is free, expenses associated with education are often prohibitively high for poor families, which contributes to low primary school attendance rates.(4, 12)



III. Enforcement of Laws on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement
Organization/Agency Role
Ministry of Labor's Labor Inspectorate Enforce child labor laws and regulations.(1)
Djibouti National Police and Vice Squad Enforce criminal laws and investigate criminal offenses related to child labor, including forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.(1)
Ministry of Justice Investigate child labor cases.(1)

Law enforcement agencies in Djibouti took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2013, the Ministry of Labor hired three new labor inspectors to the Inspectorate for a total of four labor inspectors.(1) None of the four labor inspectors have received training related to child labor investigations; meanwhile, an overall lack of resources have hampered inspection and enforcement efforts. No child labor inspections were undertaken in 2013 and no violations were issued.(1)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2013, the Vice Squad included four officers, but lacked sufficient training and resources to effectively enforce laws related to child labor, trafficking, and commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, no data on investigations, prosecutions, or convictions on child labor or exploitation were available.(1)



IV. Coordination of Government Efforts on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Research found no evidence that the Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms.



V. Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Djibouti has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Policies Related to Child Labor
Policy Description
National Strategy 2013-2017† Provide social safety nets for vulnerable populations, protect the rights of children, and develop social programs to address the risks of children.(1)

†Policy was launched during the reporting period.

In 2013, the Government of Djibouti sought to increase the quality of education. It maintained a policy of offering free public education and devotes a quarter of its national budget to the education sector.(1)



VI. Social Programs to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2013, the Government of Djibouti participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Social Programs to Address Child Labor
Program Description and Objectives
UNICEF Country Program* UNICEF program with the Government to assist orphans and vulnerable children who may be at risk of entering the worst forms of child labor.(1)
IOM Program* IOM program in partnership with the Government to address the risks of irregular migration , which operates a service center along the route most often traveled by migrants.(1)
Urban Poverty Reduction Program* African Development Bank program to promote socioeconomic development in Djibouti's towns and cities, where the majority of child workers live.(6)

*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.

Research uncovered no evidence of programs that specifically assist children engaged in other forms of child labor, such as domestic labor, commercial sexual exploitation, or illicit activity.



VII. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Djibouti (Table 8).

Table 8. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including Its Worst Forms
Area Suggested Action Year(s) Suggested
Laws Establish a minimum age for hazardous work, and develop and publish a list of hazardous occupations prohibited to children. 2009 - 2013
Ensure the law provides penalties for the purchase of child pornography. 2012 - 2013
Effectively implement the free public education policy. 2010 - 2013
Enforcement Provide additional training and resources to labor inspectors and criminal law enforcement. 2011 - 2013
Conduct inspections to enforce child labor laws. 2011 - 2013
Publicly report on inspections, prosecutions, and convictions related to the worst forms of child labor. 2010 - 2013
Coordination Establish a coordinating mechanism to combat the worst forms of child labor. 2009 - 2013
Social Programs Conduct research to determine the activities carried out by children working in agriculture to inform policies and programs. 2013
Assess the impact that the Urban Poverty Reduction Program, UNICEF Country Program, and IOM Program may have on child labor. 2010 - 2013
Institute programs to assist children involved in domestic labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and illicit activities. 2009 - 2013



1. U.S. Embassy- Djibouti. reporting, January 20, 2014.

2. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed February 10, 2014]; 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.

3. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 3, 2006 Analysis received February 13, 2014. 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.

4. U.S. Department of State. "Djibouti," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2013. Washington, DC; February 27, 2014; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper.

5. U.S. Department of State. "Djibouti," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2013. Washington, DC; June 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/

6. Urban Poverty Reduction Project, African Development Bank, [online] [cited April 9, 2014]; http://www.afdb.org/en/projects-and-operations/project-portfolio/project/p-dj-ie0-002/.

7. Government of Djibouti. Loi n°133/AN/05/5ème L portant Code du Travail, Loi n°133, enacted January 26, 2006. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_protect/---protrav/---ilo_aids/documents/legaldocument/wcms_126983.pdf.

8. Government of Djibouti. Loi n°210/AN/07/5ème L relative à la Lutte Contre le Trafic des Etres Humains, Loi n°210, enacted October 2, 2007. http://www.presidence.dj/jo/2007/loi210an07.php.

9. Child Soldiers International. "Appendix II: Data Summary on Recruitment Ages of National Armies," in Louder than Words: An Agenda for Action to End State Use of Child Soldiers. London; September 2012; http://www.child-soldiers.org/global_report_reader.php?id=562.

10. Government of Djibouti. Loi n°96/AN/00/4ème L portant orientation du systeme educatif Djiboutien, Loi n°96, enacted August 10, 2000. http://www.presidence.dj/jo/2000/loi96an00.htm.

11. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Djibouti (ratification: 2005) Published: 2011; accessed March 20, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm.

12. International Monetary Fund. "Djibouti: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper," in IMF Country Report No. 09/203. Washington, DC; July 2009; http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2009/cr09203.pdf.