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The Gambia


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2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, The Gambia made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government established Community Child Protection Committees to raise awareness, arrested and prosecuted a teacher who forced children to beg, and apprehended and detained 18 people for child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and petty trade activities. However, gaps in the legal framework persist, such as between compulsory education and minimum working ages. In addition, the Government has yet to establish a coordinating mechanism to combat all worst forms of child labor, and existing social programs are not sufficient to meet the need. Children in The Gambia continue to engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation.

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Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Children in The Gambia are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation.(3, 4) Commercial sexual exploitation of children continues to be a serious problem in The Gambia.(5-8) Some children are exploited in brothels.(4) Evidence suggests that sexual exploitation of Gambian children in touristic areas persists, although stricter laws and enforcement have driven such activity away from major hotels and toward lower-end guest houses and motels.(6, 9-11)

Children in rural areas are engaged in agricultural production.(12) Children’s work in agriculture commonly involves using dangerous tools, carrying heavy loads, and applying harmful pesticides.(13, 14)

Children in The Gambia also work in domestic service. In particular, some girls from rural areas reportedly leave school to seek work as domestic servants in urban centers.(15) Child domestics may work long hours, performing strenuous tasks, without sufficient food or shelter. These children may also be isolated in private homes and are susceptible to physical and sexual abuse.(16, 17)

In The Gambia, it is a common practice to send boys to receive education from Koranic teachers called marabouts. Some Koranic students, or almudos, are forced by their teachers to beg in the streets for money and food.(11, 12, 18, 19) Some reports indicate that cases of begging forced on almudos by marabouts have decreased as a result of police and enforcement efforts.(4, 5, 9) However, reports also suggest that instead of requiring almudos to beg, many marabouts now force students to sell items on the street. Almudos in rural areas often engage in long hours of farm work.(5)

Within The Gambia, children are trafficked for domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation, including in the tourism industry.(4, 5) Children of both sexes are taken to and from neighboring countries where they are exploited in the sex trade, domestic servitude, and forced street vending.(5, 12, 20)

There are reports of children working on the streets, but specific information on hazards is unknown.(8, 12, 19, 21, 22)



Laws and Regulations on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Gambian Children’s Act sets the minimum age for light work at 16, but permits children as young as 12 to hold an apprenticeship with a craftsperson.(23) The Children’s Act prohibits children younger than 18 from engaging in hazardous work, night work and work that interferes with schooling. It prohibits children’s participation in specific hazardous industries, including seafaring, mining, and quarrying.(23) It also prohibits children from carrying heavy loads, working in manufacturing industries in which chemicals are produced or machines are used, and holding employment in bars, hotels, and places of entertainment in which a child may be exposed to immoral behavior.(23) The Labor Act of 2007 also prohibits children under 18 from engaging in agricultural, industrial, or nonindustrial work. The Act includes exceptions for work done at vocational schools and training institutions as part of an educational program.(24) The law does not protect children working without a formal employer-employee relationship, such as children in domestic work.(25)

The Constitution and the Children’s Act prohibit forced and compulsory labor.(23, 26) Several laws, namely the Children’s Act and the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2007, explicitly criminalize all forms of child trafficking.(23, 27) The law also prohibits promoting child prostitution and procuring a child for sexual exploitation.(23, 28) The Tourism Offenses Act of 2003 prohibits child trafficking, prostitution, and pornography; it is specifically aimed at protecting Gambian children from exploitation by sex tourists.(5, 9, 28-30) The Children’s Act forbids procurement, use or offering of a child for illicit activities, including drug production and trafficking.(23) The Children’s Act also protects children from forced begging.(21) In addition, the Act also stipulates that children under 18 may not be recruited into the Armed Forces.(12, 23)

The Constitution guarantees the right to free education and school attendance is compulsory to age 12.(4, 26) Children ages 12 to 17 may be particularly vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor, as they are no longer required to attend school but are not legally eligible to perform most types of work. Further, lack of appropriate resources and infrastructure prevent the full provision of free compulsory education as mandated by law.(31) Students who receive public primary education are often charged school fees.(3, 4) However, the Government has attempted to increase the number of girls attending school by waiving their tuition.(4)



Institutional Mechanisms for Coordination and Enforcement

The Ministry of Justice’s National Agency Against Trafficking in Persons (NAATIP) has a Chief Executive Officer and two full-time investigators, who are responsible for coordinating, administering, and monitoring the implementation of the Trafficking in Persons Act of 2007.(5, 8, 12, 32, 33) The Agency’s budget for the year was $33,000, and while this amount is reportedly sufficient to perform general activities, the Agency does not have access to vehicles or transport. In addition, NAATIP investigators lack specialized training in the worst forms of child labor.(8) Although the Government has established the NAATIP as a coordinating body to combat trafficking in persons, research found no evidence that it has established a coordinating mechanism to combat other worst forms of child labor.

The Department of Labor (DOL), the Department of Social Welfare, NAATIP, and the Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) are responsible for enforcing the laws related to the worst forms of child labor. The DOL relies on tips and allegations to investigate possible child labor violations but does not conduct targeted inspections.(12) The DOL employs an estimated five labor inspectors to conduct all workplace inspections, including those based on child labor allegations.(8, 12) In 2012, the Government established a number of Community Child Protection Committees at the local level to raise awareness and increase reporting of cases to authorities.(21) The DOL also maintains an electronic database that contains information on all cases related to child protection, including those involving labor and trafficking violations.(5, 9, 11) While employee labor cards, which include a person’s age, were typically registered with the labor commissioner, inspections rarely occurred. In addition, the number of worst forms of child labor complaints and investigations that took place during the reporting period is unclear, as the Government did not make this information available. During the year, the Government arrested and prosecuted a Koranic teacher for forcing 20 child students to beg.(8) However, additional information about the outcome of the case is not available.(5) In addition, a Norwegian foreign national was prosecuted and sentenced to three years in jail for sexual exploitation of six children and child pornography.(34)

All law enforcement agencies have units dedicated to either antitrafficking or child protection, which enforce the criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor.(5)

Child labor violations that occur in tourist resort areas, which typically involve sexual exploitation, are reported to the Department of Social Welfare or the GTB. Both agencies notify the Tourism Security Unit (TSU), which patrols these areas and enforces laws related to child labor, including sexual exploitation and trafficking.(5, 9) The TSU is also responsible for preventing unaccompanied children from entering tourist areas. The TSU and GTB are compiling a database of persons suspected of pedophilia or child trafficking.(5, 9) During the year, Government officials apprehended and detained 18 people for child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and petty trade activities in the city of Banjul.(20, 35) However, it is unclear if this resulted in prosecution or conviction.



Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, the Government was in the process of developing a National Children’s policy, which has not yet been approved.(21) The Government is also developing a National Plan of Action to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children, with support from the European Commission and UNICEF. The Plan follows on from the previous 2004 CSEC National Action Plan, but has not yet been approved.(21)

The Government of The Gambia’s National Education Policy (2004-2015) aims to expand education infrastructure, improve the quality of traditional and vocational education, and increase school enrollment, particularly among girls.(12, 36) Some research has indicated that the average number of hours worked per child has decreased since the implementation of the Education Policy.(37)

During the year, the Government continued to collaborate with the GTB to implement a policy to address child sex tourism by institutionalizing a code of conduct among tourist resorts.(8) One pillar of the code is to raise awareness within the tourism industry and among tourists; which has been incorporated into training for new hotel staff.(6, 38) In February 2012, hotel staff also received training on the code of conduct, courtesy of the GTB, the Child Protection Alliance, and ECPAT Netherlands.(38)



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

During the year, the Government spoke out against child sex tourism and the issue of street children, as part of an awareness-raising campaign.(10, 39, 40)

The Government of The Gambia funds and operates, with support from UNICEF, a drop-in center that provides medical care, food, and counseling to street children, including trafficking victims and almudos.(5, 8, 12, 21) Once almudos have registered in the drop-in center program, the center tries to prevent the children from returning to begging.(8, 12) During the reporting period, the Government allocated $11,500 for the functioning of the center.(11) The Government participated in training events at the center.(41) The Government also operated, with support from NGOs, a conditional cash transfer program that gave marabouts $3.33 per month and food rations for each of their child students on the condition that they not force their child students to beg.(34) The Government reports that more than a thousand children are benefiting from the program.(34)

During the reporting period, the Government of The Gambia continued to participate in several regional projects to combat the worst forms of child labor, including two USDOL-funded, 4-year regional projects to assist ECOWAS in developing systems to help its member countries reduce the worst forms of child labor. The ECOWAS I project was funded at $7.95 million in 2009, and the ECOWAS II project was funded at $5 million in 2010.(42-44) The Government of The Gambia also continued to participate in a project named Children on the Move, which is a 3-year regional program funded by a Swiss NGO. The project provides services to children who had been trafficked, including repatriation.(8, 12)

Government-supported programs are not sufficient to reach all the children vulnerable to trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, and exploitive street work. Furthermore, existing programs do not target children working in agriculture and domestic service.

The Government of The Gambia continued to fund a program to subsidize and eliminate schools fees, especially for girls, in order to increase enrollment under the National Education Policy.(12)



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

Area

Suggested Actions

Year(s) Action Recommended

Laws and Regulations

Raise the compulsory education age to 18 to be equivalent to the minimum age for most types of work.

2010, 2011, 2012

Ensure the law includes provisions to protect children engaged in domestic work.

2012

Coordination and Enforcement

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

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Ensure appropriate agencies are fully funded, such as the NAATIP.

2012

Provide necessary specialized training for appropriate agency officials, such as under the NAATIP.

2012

Establish a mechanism for public reporting on the number of complaints, investigations, and prosecutions.

2012

Policies

Approve the National Children’s Policy and the National Plan of Action to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children.

2012

Explore ways to increase access to schooling by providing universal free, compulsory education as guaranteed by the Constitution.

2010, 2011, 2012

Continue monitoring and evaluating the impact of the National Education Policy on child labor, including the average number of hours worked per child.

2010, 2011, 2012

Social Programs

Expand existing programs to prevent child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

2010, 2011, 2012

Develop programs to assist children in agriculture and domestic service.

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.

3. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Gambia (ratification: 2000) Submitted: 2011; accessed February 9, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:20010:0::NO:::.

4. U.S. Department of State. "The Gambia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2012. Washington, DC; April 22, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper.

5. U.S. Department of State. "The Gambia," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2011. Washington, DC; June 27, 2011; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/142983.pdf.

6. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Gambia: Sex Tourists Exploiting Children." IRINnews.org [online] October 30, 2008 [cited December 20, 2012]; http://www.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=81205.

7. ECPAT International. Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: The Gambia. Bangkok, Thailand; 2007. http://www.ecpat.net/A4A_2005/PDF/AF/Global_Monitoring_Report-GAMBIA.pdf.

8. U.S. Embassy- Banjul. reporting, February 6, 2013.

9. U.S. Embassy- Banjul. reporting, March 3, 2011.

10. The Daily Observer. "Say No to 'Child Sex Tourism'." The Daily Observer, Banjul, October 24, 2012. http://www.observer.gm.

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

12. U.S. Embassy- Banjul. reporting, February 1, 2012.

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. 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.

15. U.S. Embassy- Banjul. reporting, February 2, 2010.

16. 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 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.

17. 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.

18. Inter Press Service. "Street Children at Risk of Exploitation." ipsnews.net [online] September 22, 2008 [cited November 7, 2012]; www.ipsnews.net.

19. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Gambia: Street Children Persist Despite Crackdown." IRINnews.org [online] June 4, 2009 [cited November 4, 2012]; http://www.irinnews.org/Report/84713/GAMBIA-Street-children-persist-despite-crackdown.

20. U.S. Embassy- Banjul official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 31, 2013.

21. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Gambia (ratification: 2001) Submitted: 2012; accessed November 4, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:20010:0::NO:::.

22. 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 street work is not available, research studies and other reports have documented the dangerous nature of tasks in street work and their accompanying occupational exposures, injuries and potential health consequences to children working in the sector.

23. Government of The Gambia. Children's Act, enacted July 21, 2005.

24. Government of The Gambia. Labour Act, 5/2007, enacted October 17, 2007.

25. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Gambia (ratification: 2000) (Submitted: 2012); accessed November 4, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:20010:0::NO:::.

26. Government of The Gambia. Constitution, enacted 1997. http://www.ncce.gm/files/constitution.pdf.

27. Government of The Gambia. Trafficking in Persons Act, enacted October 5, 2007.

28. Child Protection Alliance. Tourism Offences Act (2003) at a Glance. Fajara, Bakau, The Gambia; 2008. http://www.cpagambia.gm/Web/Leaflet%20Tourism%20Offences%20Act.pdf.

29. Salieu, Y. "Gambia: Manual on Child Sex Tourism Launched." allafrica.com [online] October 12, 2011 [cited December 12, 2012]; http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/201110121083.html.

30. ILO NATLEX National Labor Law Database. Tourism Offences Act, 2003; accessed February 10, 2009; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home.

31. U.S. Department of State. "The Gambia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2010. Washington, DC; April 8, 2011; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/142983.pdf.

32. UNODC. Toolkit to Combat Trafficking in Persons; 2008. http://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/Toolkit-files/08-58296_tool_3-2.pdf.

33. U.S. Department of State official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. June 12, 2012.

34. U.S. Embassy- Banjul. reporting, March 8, 2013.

35. FOROYAA Newspaper. "Gambia: 79 Youths Apprehended for Alleged Child Trafficking in Banjul." allafrica.com [online] January 10, 2013 [cited December 21, 2012]; http://allafrica.com/stories/201301110757.html.

36. International Monetary Fund. The Gambia: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper- Annual Progress Report. Washington, DC; February 2009. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2009/cr0975.pdf.

37. Thiam, M. How Changes in Schooling Affect Child Labour: The Case of 3 FTI countries; May 2009. http://www.globalpartnership.org/media/library/Education_Child_Labor.pdf.

38. U.S. Embassy- Banjul official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 13, 2012.

39. The Daily Observer. "Interior Ministry Deplores Rampant Street Children, Child Labour." The Daily Observer, Banjul, August 10, 2012. http://www.observer.gm.

40. The Daily Observer. "CPA Coordinator Urges Action Against Child Sex Tourism." The Daily Observer,, Banjul, February 24, 2012. http://www.observer.gm.

41. The Daily Observer. "Training for Hotline/Helpline Operators Wraps-Up." The Daily Observer, Banjul, October 3, 2012. http://www.observer.gm.

42. ILO-IPEC. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS. Project Document. Geneva; September 3, 2010.

43. ILO-IPEC. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS-II. Project Document. Geneva; December 20, 2010.

44. ILO-IPEC. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS. Accra; March 31, 2011.