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Eritrea


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2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, Eritrea made no advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. While support for programs to reduce the worst forms of child labor exists, the Government continued to sponsor a national program called Mahtot, under which children in grades nine through eleven are required to work for two months during the school break in various service and agricultural activities.In addition, even though the law prohibits the recruitment of children under age 18 into the armed forces, there are children under age 18 enrolled in the Government’s compulsory military training program at the Sawa Educational Institution. Gaps in legislation also exist, including the lack of laws to prohibit trafficking for labor. Children in Eritrea are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in dangerous activities in agriculture and domestic service.

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Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Children in Eritrea are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, some in dangerous activities in agriculture and domestic service.(3-6) There is limited evidence that children in rural areas of Eritrea work on farms producing corn, wheat, sorghum and other grains; they also work in fields gathering firewood, hauling water and herding livestock.(3, 6, 7) However, children working in agriculture may use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides.(8, 9) Children employed as domestic servants may 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.(10, 11)

Children also work in garages and workshops making household utensils and furniture, which may require them to use dangerous machinery. In Asmara, some children engage in commercial sexual exploitation.(3, 6, 7, 12, 13)

The Government of Eritrea sponsors a national program called Mahtot, under which children in grades nine through eleven are required to work for two months during the school break in various service and agricultural activities.(3, 14, 15) Examples of these activities include producing and maintaining school furniture; water-related projects such as building canals and irrigation; reforestation activities such as planting trees; and agricultural activities such as terracing and picking cotton.(3, 14-16)

The Government of Eritrea engages in a compulsory practice, whereby, in order to graduate, students are required by the Government to complete their final, 12th, year of schooling and military training at the Sawa Center for Education and Training in remote Western Eritrea. Some students may be under age 18 while attending Sawa.(3, 6, 7, 17, 18) Students who do not attend are not eligible to take their final examinations or to graduate.(3, 5, 7) After 6 months of compulsory military training, students at Sawa are either assigned college preparatory educational work, deployed to technical colleges for further training, or assigned national service tasks in the military or public works projects including being drafted into the military, deployed to work in gold mines and on agriculture and construction projects.(3, 6, 7, 14, 19-23) Persons who attempt to flee or otherwise avoid military training and national service are generally subject to detention and poor treatment if caught, and may be subject to torture.(14, 23, 24)

Children fleeing Eritrea for economic, political, or religious reasons (including conscientious objectors), or to avoid military training or national service, may be trafficked for forced labor, including commercial sexual exploitation abroad.(3, 5, 23)

The UN Human Rights Council has expressed grave concern at the use of forced labor, including the use of conscripts and minors in the mining industry.(18)

In Eritrea, children who are not in school often enter the workforce, as a result, children may work at a young age because of the limited number of schools.(3, 6, 7) Children from nomadic communities have difficulty accessing education, as their seasonal movements are incompatible with the formal school calendar.(25, 26)

Children are reported to work on the streets, but specific information on hazards is unknown.(3, 23, 27)



Laws and Regulations on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

During the reporting period no new laws or regulations were passed related to child labor.(3) The Labor Proclamation sets the minimum age for employment at age 14 and the minimum age for hazardous work at age 18. Under this law, hazardous work includes transporting goods and passengers; heavy lifting; working with toxic chemicals and dangerous machines; digging tunnels; and working underground in mines, quarries, and sewers.(3, 28) However, the Labor Proclamation does not require employers to keep a register containing the name, age, or date of birth of their employees; it does not include penalties for employers of children in hazardous work or employers of children under the minimum age. Further, the Government does not provide protection for self-employed children or children working without a contract, leaving many children working for family businesses and as child domestics unprotected by the laws.(3, 28, 29) Eritrean labor proclamations and law require that employers take appropriate measures to ensure that workplaces and processes of work do not become causes of hazards to the health or safety of employees, including persons aged 14 to 18. A child may become an apprentice at 14.(28) However, children in apprenticeships are legally permitted to engage in training in hazardous work if supervised by a competent authority. This includes hazardous and health-threatening tasks such as working in mines, quarries, and sewers.(28, 29)

Slavery, servitude, and forced labor are prohibited by the Constitution.(30) The Penal Code prohibits and provides penalties for trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation, child rape, and child prostitution.(3, 31) No law prohibits trafficking for labor exploitation.(5) Research did not uncover information on whether there are laws regulating the use of children in illicit activities such as drug trafficking.

Children under age 18 are prohibited from recruitment into the armed forces by Proclamation 11/1991.(32, 33) However, in practice, some children under age 18 attend military training as a result of the Government’s required service at the Sawa Educational Institution for those who wish to graduate from secondary school.(3, 6, 17)

The National Policy on Education states that children have the right to 8 years of free basic education beginning at age 6. The basic education cycle includes 5 years of primary education (grades one to five) and 3 years of junior secondary education (grades six to eight).(29) Education is compulsory until age 14.(29, 34)



Institutional Mechanisms for Coordination and Enforcement

Research found no evidence that the Government of Eritrea has established a coordinating mechanism to combat the worst forms of child labor.(3)

The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare is the primary federal agency designated to enforce child labor laws, including criminal violations of the worst forms of child labor, such as trafficking. Detailed information was not made available for the reporting period related to the Ministry’s funding level or labor inspectors.(3, 7) Information was also unavailable on child labor investigations, prosecutions, and convictions.



Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The National Plan of Action on Child Labor and National Program of Action on Children are the primary government mechanisms to combat child labor in Eritrea. These policies prevent child labor and support victims by reintegrating them with families, communities, and schools.(3) Addressing exploitive child labor was also a goal of the UN Development Assistance Framework and protecting children from exploitative situations is also incorporated in the UN Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework that was released in November 2012 and will be implemented from 2013 to 2016. However, research did not uncover the extent to which these development policies have been implemented or what their impact is on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor.(3, 7, 35-37)

The Government made no known effort to collect or publish data on the worst forms of child labor.(3) The Government’s compulsory military training requirements for school children may diminish the impact of Eritrea’s policies to combat the worst forms of child labor for all those wishing to obtain high school diplomas.



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

The Government was a participant in the Regional Program for Eastern Africa (2009-2012) to counter the trafficking of children; it also supported the Eastern African Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization, a regional effort to improve its law enforcement capacity to combat human trafficking.(38, 39) It is unclear whether the Government was actively involved in either of these efforts during the reporting period.(16) However, through the support of the Ministry of Education, a number of permanent new elementary schools were built for the 2012-2013 academic year to target children living in remote areas.(23, 40) UNICEF does not believe that there is an adequate number of school buildings for school-aged children, and estimates the teacher shortage at 25-30 percent. . The Government was actively involved with UNICEF in building new schools for nomads, with as many as 100 new mobile facilities constructed in 2012 in regions in which children lacked access to permanent schools, or in which children failed to start school on time and needed remedial education.(23, 41)

Information remained limited on Government-implemented efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor during the reporting period. The Government of Eritrea sponsored numerous youth and worker unions’ education outreach programs about anti-trafficking in persons and has provided shelter to orphans and vulnerable children.(5, 23, 35, 42) The Government continued to restrict the work of both national and international NGOs.(7, 16, 23)

Eritrea’s social programs are limited in scope and do not adequately protect or provide alternatives for self-employed children or target areas in which the majority of children work, such as agriculture, domestic service.



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

Area

Suggested Actions

Year(s) Action Recommended

Laws and Regulations

Amend the Labor Proclamation to require employers to keep a register containing the name and age or date of birth of their employees, and provide penalties for employers of children in hazardous work and employers of children under the legal minimum age.

2010, 2011, 2012

Ensure that self-employed children and children working without a contract are protected from the worst forms of child labor.

2010, 2011, 2012

Prohibit children in supervised vocational training programs from engaging in hazardous work.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Enact legislation to prohibit all forms of trafficking.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Coordination and Enforcement

Establish a coordinating mechanism to combat the worst forms of child labor.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Publish data on inspections, criminal investigations, prosecutions, and other steps taken to enforce laws.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Policies

Implement child labor objectives in national policies and development plans by including budgets, detailed action plans, and targets related to the worst forms of child labor.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Cease requiring children to perform manual labor under the Mahtot program during the school break.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Ensure that children under the age of 18 are not coercively recruited into the national military program.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Conduct a national labor force survey to improve the availability of data on the worst forms of child labor.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Social Programs

Develop appropriate social protection programs to protect self-employed children and children working in agriculture and domestic service from the worst forms of child labor.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Improve access to education by building more schools and developing alternative educational programs for nomadic communities.

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.

3. U.S. Embassy- Asmara. reporting, February 11, 2013.

4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties Due in 2006: Eritrea. Geneva; October 23, 2007. Report No. CRC/C/ERI/3 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/CRC.C.ERI.3.pdf.

5. U.S. Department of State. "Eritrea," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2012. Washington, DC; June 19, 2012; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192595.pdf.

6. U.S. Department of State. "Eritrea," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2012. Washington, DC; April 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper.

7. U.S. Embassy- Asmara. reporting, February 7, 2012.

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

9. International Labour Office. Farming, International Labour Organization, [online] January 31, 2012 [cited November 2, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Agriculture/WCMS_172416/lang--en/index.htm.

10. International Labour Office. Children in hazardous work: What we know, what we need to do. Geneva, International Labour Organization. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---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.

11. International Labour Office. Domestic Labour, International Labour Organization, [online] January 31, 2012 [cited November 2, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Childdomesticlabour/lang--en/index.htm.

12. Child Rights Information Network. Child Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review: Eritrea. London; November 30, 2009. http://www.crin.org/docs/Eritrea.pdf.

13. Hadgu, M. (III) Eritrea, a Nation in Overall Crisis: Coping Strategies in Hard Times, Asmarino Independent, [online] April 16, 2009 [cited May 16, 2012]; http://www.asmarino.com/eyewitness-account/133-iii-eritrea-a-nation-in-overall-crisis-coping-strategies-in-hard-times.

14. Human Rights Watch. Service for Life: State Repression and Indefinite Conscription in Eritrea. New York City; April 16, 2009. http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/eritrea0409web_0.pdf.

15. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 48th Session: Summary Record of the 1335th Meeting. Geneva; June 13, 2008. Report No. CRC/C/SR.1335. [Hard Copy on File].

16. U.S. Embassy- Asmara official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 23, 2012.

17. UK Border Agency. Country of Origin Information Report; August 17, 2011. http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/coi/eritrea/.

18. UN General Assembly. Human Rights Council Report on theSituation of Human Rights in Eritrea. New York City; June 10, 2013. Report No. A/HRC/23/L.17. http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/E/HRC/d_res_dec/A_HRC_23_L17.doc.

19. U.S. Embassy- Asmara official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. October 27, 2010.

20. Human Rights Watch. World Report 2011: Eritrea. New York; January 2011. http://www.hrw.org/en/world-report-2011/eritrea.

21. U.S. Embassy- Asmara. reporting, February 23, 2011.

22. Human Rights Watch. Hear No Evil: Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Eritrea’s Mining Sector. New York City; January 2013. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/01/15/hear-no-evil-0.

23. U.S. Department of State. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 23, 2013.

24. UN General Assembly. Compilation Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Accordance with Paragraph 15(B) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Eritrea. New York City; September 18, 2009. Report No. A/HRC/WG.6/6/ERI/2. http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session6/ER/A_HRC_WG6_6_ERI_2_E.pdf.

25. Asai, Y. UNICEF Supports a Revived Commitment to Nomadic Education in Eritrea, UNICEF, [online] March 30, 2010 [cited February 20, 2013]; http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/eritrea_53217.html.

26. Mareso, M. An Emphasis on Eductaion for Migrant Communities in Eritrea, [online] April 17, 2009 [cited May 16, 2012]; http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/eritrea_49393.html.

27. Hagos, M. Harmonisation of Laws Relating to Children: Eritrea. Addis Ababa, The African Child Policy Forum; 2007. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&ved=0CD8QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.africanchildinfo.net%2Fdocuments%2FEritrea%2520Report%2520final%2520Sarah.doc&ei=W_d_UbiBMabj4APOxoC4Aw&usg=AFQjCNEIhsmPWSxs0ITe0yCNQ9yrj-5tmw&sig2=3nwFrEEDKsBkazO2VOK0Mw.

28. Government of Eritrea. The Labour Proclamation of Eritrea, 118/2001, enacted 2001. [Hard Copy on File].

29. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Eritrea (ratification: 2000) Published: 2011; accessed April 20, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:2337233:NO.

30. Government of Eritrea. The Constitution of Eritrea, enacted May 23, 1997. http://www.chr.up.ac.za/undp/domestic/docs/c_Eritrea.pdf.

31. Government of Eritrea. The Transitional Eritrean Penal Code, enacted 1991.

32. Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. "Eritrea," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2008. London; 2008; http://www.childsoldiersglobalreport.org/files/country_pdfs/FINAL_2008_Global_Report.pdf.

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

34. UNESCO. World Data on Education. Geneva; September 2010. Report No. IBE/2010/CP/WDE/EA. http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/WDE/2010/pdf-versions/Eritrea.pdf.

35. U.S. Embassy- Asmara. reporting, January 28, 2011.

36. United Nations. Eritrea: UN Development Assistance Framework (2007-2011). Asmara; 2007. http://www.er.undp.org/un_eritrea/docs/undaf_pub_eritrea.pdf.

37. United Nations. Government of the State of Eritrea-United Nations Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework. Asmara; 2012. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.unicef.org%2Fabout%2Fexecboard%2Ffiles%2FERI_GOSE-UN_SPCF_28th_Nov_2012.pdf&ei=rF0hUb33EI2z0QGbmIHgCg&usg=AFQjCNGm3--s0EuQuHeejFupDQgPP46JRA&sig2=GbM7fJ3vVESR7V_LpU31aQ.

38. UNODC. Promoting the Rule of Law and Human Security in Eastern Africa: Regional Program 2009-2012; December 2009. http://www.unodc.org/documents/easternafrica//regional-ministerial-meeting/Eastern_Africa_Regional_Programme_Final_Draft.pdf.

39. INTERPOL. "Police Co-operation in East Africa Focus of Regional Police Chiefs Meeting in Sudan." interpol.int [online] October 20, 2010 [cited May 16, 2012]; http://www.interpol.int/News-and-media/News-media-releases/2010/PR087.

40. Government of Eritrea. Endeavors Underway to Boost School Participation in Northern Red Sea Region, Ministry of Information, [online] [cited April 20, 2012]; http://www.shabait.com/news/local-news/9219-endeavors-underway-to-boost-school-participation-in-northern-red-sea-region.

41. UNICEF. 2012 UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children. New York; January 2012. http://www.unicef.org/hac2012/hac_eritrea.php.

42. Government of Eritrea- Ministry of Information. Effective Social Security Programs Implemented in Southern Region, Shabait.com, [online] December 21, 2010 [cited Februrary 20, 2013]; http://www.shabait.com/news/local-news/4086.