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Guyana

2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Moderate Advancement

In 2013, Guyana made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government identified and rescued nine girls and one boy as suspected trafficking victims and provided labor inspectors with child labor training. In collaboration with the ILO, the Government implemented the Tackle Child Labor through Education (TACKLE) project through its conclusion in August. During the project period, school attendance and student performance increased, and the Government aims to mainstream the programs initiated under the project. In August, the Government ratified ILO Convention 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. However, children in Guyana continue to engage in child labor in agriculture and the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation. Guyana's legislation does not fully protect children from the worst forms of child labor. Children 17 years of age are legally permitted to engage in some hazardous activities. Further, the National Steering Committee on Child Labor appears to be inactive.

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I. Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of Child Labor

Children in Guyana are engaged in child labor in agriculture and the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation.(1-10) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Guyana.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education
Working children, ages 5 to 14 (% and population): 23.0 (44,787)
School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%): 94.5
Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%): 23.2
Primary completion rate (%): 85.3

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2012, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014. (11)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from MICS3 Survey, 2006-2007.( 12)

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 Farming, activities unknown (2-4, 7, 9, 10, 13)
Forestry, including logging,* preservation of lumber,* and work in sawmills* (2-4, 7, 9, 10)
Fishing,* activities unknown (3, 4, 7, 13)
Industry Construction, activities unknown*†(3, 4)
Welding* (4)
Mining, including gold mining*†(1-4, 7, 9, 10, 13-16)
Services Domestic service (3, 7)
Work in bars and restaurants* (3, 7)
Street vending (3, 4, 7, 17)
Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡ Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (1-10)

*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
†Determined by national law or regulation as hazardous and, as such, relevant to Article 3(d) of ILO C. 182.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.

Children in Guyana, including girls as young as 12, are involved in commercial sexual exploitation in Georgetown and in the country's interior. There are reports of young girls being trafficking to mining communities for commercial sexual exploitation.(4-10, 18)

In 2011, with assistance from the ILO, the Government conducted a Child Labor Rapid Assessment to better understand the nature of child labor in the country.( 19) However, the results of that survey have not yet been released to the public.(4)



II. Legal Framework for the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Guyana 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

In August 2013, Guyana ratified ILO C. 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers.(20)

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 15 Employment of Young Persons and Children Act; Education Act (1, 21, 22)
Minimum Age for Hazardous Work Yes 18 Employment of Young Persons and Children Act; Occupational Safety and Health Act (21, 23)
List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children Yes   List of Hazardous Occupations and Processes (13, 24)
Prohibition of Forced Labor Yes   Constitution of Guyana (25)
Prohibition of Child Trafficking Yes   Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act (26)
Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Yes   Protection of Children Act (27)
Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities Yes   Protection of Children Act (10)
Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment N/A*    
Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service Yes 18 Defense Act (10, 28, 29)
Compulsory Education Age Yes 15 Education Act (22)
Free Public Education Yes   Constitution of Guyana (25)

*No conscription or no standing military.

Although the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act of Guyana prohibits children under age 18 from working at night in industrial undertakings, Article 2 of the Schedule permits children ages 16 and 17 to perform certain types of work that require continuity through day and night, including in certain gold mining processes and in the production of iron, steel, glass, paper, and raw sugar.(21) The Government has issued a list of 22 hazardous occupations and processes that could threaten the health, safety, or moral or personal development of children; the list only prohibits children age 16 and younger from engaging in specified hazardous activities.(13, 24) Therefore, children age 17 are not fully protected from engaging in hazardous work.

Although Article 351 of the Criminal Law Offences Act prohibits the selling, publishing, and exhibiting of obscene material, Guyanese law does not explicitly outlaw child pornography.(1, 3, 26, 30, 31) There is no compulsory recruitment in Guyana.(10, 28)

Despite the legal guarantee of free education in Article 27 of the Constitution of Guyana, some primary schools continue to charge fees; some have even attempted to prevent children from attending school for failure to pay.(32, 33) However, the Government is attempting to address this problem. The Ministry of Education has publicized guidance advising parents and educators that only the Parent Teacher Association has the authority to approve and collect fees from parents, and that no child may be excluded from school for non-payment.( 33)



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, Human Services and Social Security (MLHSSS) Monitor and enforce child labor laws in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the Forestry Commission, the Geology and Mines Commission, and the Guyana Police Force.(4, 10) At the MLHSSS, chief labor officer handles special investigations stemming from child labor complaints and oversees routine labor inspections.(10)
Guyana Police Force (GPF) Enforce criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor, including child trafficking and use of children for illicit activity.(4)

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

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2013, officials from the Ministry of Labor, Human Services and Social Security (MLHSSS) were trained on child labor issues.(10) Based on reporting by the Government of Guyana, the MLHSSS conducted 2,218 inspections in 2013 and did not discover any cases of child labor.( 34) Labor inspectors prioritized inspections in the mining, logging, and agriculture sectors.( 34) According to most recent information, in 2013 the Ministry had employed 17 labor inspectors.( 35) According to reports, including from the MLHSSS, there are sometimes delays in accessing the resources needed to carry out inspections to monitor child labor, particularly in remote areas, where law enforcement presence is low.(4, 10)

Criminal Law Enforcement

The Guyana Police Force (GPF) works on criminal cases involving victims of the worst forms of child labor in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the MLHSSS, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, depending on the circumstances of the cases.(4) In 2013, the Government identified and rescued nine girls and one boy as suspected trafficking victims.(35) During the reporting period, the GPF also conducted training sessions on trafficking in persons for students; nurses; regional officials; and police officers stationed in Bartica, Lethem, and Port Kaituma.(9) However, the Government's capacity to carry out prosecutions is limited. With only 33 justices and magistrates, the courts have a backlog of cases on all matters of law with more than a 2-year waiting period.(2, 4, 9, 10, 36)



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

The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor
Coordinating Body Role & Description
National Steering Committee on Child Labor (NSCCL) Recommend policies and programs to eliminate child labor.(2, 10) A committee within the MLHSSS. Includes representatives of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child, the Bureau of Statistics, the National Teacher's Union, the GPF, as well as of the Ministries of Education; Amerindian Affairs; Health; and Culture, Youth and Sports.(37)
Commission on the Rights of the Child Protect and promote children's rights in accordance with the UN CRC, which includes addressing the worst forms of child labor.(4)
National Task Force for Combatting Trafficking in Persons Report on the nature and magnitude of trafficking in persons in Guyana, document the Government's response, and carry out public education and prevention measures.(38) Meets monthly.(10)

Evidence suggests the National Steering Committee on Child Labor (NSCCL) has stopped meeting on a regular basis, potentially limiting its ability to carry out its mandates.(39)



V. Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Guyana has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Policies Related to Child Labor
Policy Description
Five-year Strategic Plan on the Rights of the Child* Protects and promotes children's rights in Guyana and advances the UN CRC.(4)
National Education Policy* Aims to provide equal access to quality education for all children and eliminate barriers to education, especially for the poor.(40)

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



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

In 2013, the Government of Guyana funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Social Programs to Address Child Labor
Program Description
Tackle Child Labor through Education (TACKLE) Jointly launched by the European Commission and the ILO to combat child labor through education in 12 African and the Caribbean countries and the Pacific group of states.(41) In Guyana, aims to increase school attendance, by reducing truancy and school dropout rates.(1, 19, 42) Provided entrepreneurial, technical, vocational and life skills training to out-of-school and unemployed youth.(4) In 2013, School Retention and Child Labor Program supported by TACKLE continued to serve communities in Region 4, providing nutrition enhancement, transportation support to school, homework assistance, and psychosocial support for parents and children.(34) During the reporting period, program also undertook awareness-raising activities.(34) Concluded in August 2013.(43) During 5-year project period, participating schools experienced higher student retention, improved student behavior, and better performance on examinations.(44) The MLHSSS is seeking support from the private sector to mainstream the program into its service delivery.(44)
Trafficking Hotline‡ Government-funded hotline to assist trafficking victims, run by trained operators.(9)
Shelter for Trafficking Victims‡ Government-run shelter that houses abused and trafficked women and children for up to 6 months. Provides services, including psychological counseling and practical skills training.(1, 2, 4, 9, 10)
School Meals and Uniforms*‡ Government program to provide hot meals to 16,000 students at schools in the interior, and transportation for students in several remote areas. All students in government-run schools from nursery to secondary receive vouchers to purchase school uniforms, shoes, and backpacks.(2, 4, 34, 40, 45, 46)

*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
‡Program is funded by the Government of Guyana.

Although the Government has programs to target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to address the extent of the problem fully.



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 Guyana (Table 9).

Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including Its Worst Forms
Area Suggested Action Year(s) Suggested
Laws Extend protections of children working at night beyond those employed in industry. 2010 - 2013
Amend the list of hazardous work to protect children under age 18 in all listed sectors. 2010 - 2013
Enact a law to prohibit explicitly child pornography. 2010 - 2013
Enforcement Ensure sufficient resources are allocated in a timely manner to facilitate labor inspections. 2011 - 2013
Dedicate more resources, namely judicial personnel, to resolving court cases, including those involving the worst forms of child labor. 2010 - 2013
Coordination Ensure the NSCCL engages in regular meetings and coordination efforts. 2009 - 2013
Government Policies Assess the impact of the Strategic Plan on Children's Rights and the National Education Policy on addressing child labor. 2010 - 2013
Expand national education policy to achieve free universal education, as guaranteed by law. 2011 - 2013
Social Programs Make publicly available the results of the Child Labor Rapid Assessment Survey. 2011 - 2013
Develop new initiatives and expand existing programs to reach all children involved in the worst forms of child labor. 2010 - 2013
Assess the impact the school meals program may have on child labor. 2013



1. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown. reporting, January 7, 2011.

2. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown. reporting, February 3, 2012.

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

4. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown. reporting, February 28, 2013.

5. Ministry of Labour Human Services and Social Security. Girls' Day Forum Puts Spotlight on Prostitution, Ministry of Labour Human Services and Social Security, [online] October 24, 2012 [cited October 24, 2012]; http://www.mlhsss.gov.gy/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=525:girls-day-forum-puts-spotlight-on-prostitution&catid=2:news&Itemid=45.

6. Eleazar, G. "Child Prostitution Rampant in Region Eight." kaieturnewsonline.com [online] June 5, 2009 [cited January 10, 2012]; http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/06/05/child-prostitution-rampant-in-region-eight/.

7. International Trade Union Confederation. Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards in Guyana. Geneva; July 8 and 10, 2009.

8. KNews. "Four Minors Rescued from Sexual Slavery." kaieteurnewsonline.com [online] April 22, 2012 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2012/04/22/four-minors-rescued-from-sexual-slavery/.

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

10. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown. reporting, January 31, 2014.

11. 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.

12. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from MICS, 2006-2007. 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.

13. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Guyana (ratification: 1998) Submitted: 2011; accessed January 25, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:11003:0::NO::: [source on file].

14. Inter-American Development Bank. Section 4.2 Socio-Economic Baseline: Amaila Falls Hydroelectric Project. Washington, DC; January 2011. http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=36216595.

15. Stabroek News. "Teen Miner Murdered at Cuyuni Backdam." stabroeknews.com [online] November 13, 2012 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://www.stabroeknews.com/2012/news/stories/11/13/teen-miner-murdered-at-cuyuni-backdam/.

16. Fox News, Associated Press. "NGO Says it Rescued a Child 'No Older than 8' from Remote Guyana Gold Mining Camp." foxnews.com [online] November 5, 2012 [cited December 2, 2013]; http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/11/05/ngo-says-it-rescued-child-no-older-than-8-from-remote-guyana-gold-mining-camp/print.

17. Khan, I. "Child Labour and the Development of Women- Guyana." stabroeknews.com [online] December 28, 2010 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/features/in-the-diaspora/12/28/child-labour-and-the-development-of-women-%E2%80%93-guyana/.

18. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown. reporting, February 10, 2010.

19. Government of Guyana. Contributions to the OHCHR Study on Children Working and/or Living on the Streets. Georgetown; October 2, 2011. www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Children/Study/Guyana.doc.

20. ILO. Ratifications of C189 - Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189); accessed March 19, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:11300:0::NO:11300:P11300_INSTRUMENT_ID:2551460.

21. Government of Guyana. Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (Chapter 99:01) [consolidated up to 1973], No. 14 enacted 1933. [source on file].

22. Government of Guyana. Education Act, Chapter 39:01, enacted 1998. [source on file].

23. Government of Guyana. Occupational Safety and Health Act, Chapter 99:10, enacted 1997. [source on file].

24. KNews. "ILO Report Finds Prostitution in Local Secondary Schools." kaieteurnewsonline.com [online] July 12, 2009 [cited January 9. 2012]; http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2009/07/12/ilo-report-finds-prostitution-in-local-secondary-schools/.

25. Government of Guyana. The Constitution of Guyana, 1980 with 1996 Reforms, enacted 1996. http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Guyana/guyana96.html.

26. Government of Guyana. Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act 2005, enacted 2005. [source on file].

27. Government of Guyana. Protection of Children Act, No. 17, enacted 2009. [source on file].

28. 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.

29. KNews. "Recruitment Age of GDF No Longer 16-Years-Old." kaieteurnewsonline.com [online] January 3, 2011 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2011/01/03/recruitment-age-of-gdf-no-longer-16-years-old/.

30. Government of Guyana. Criminal Law (Offences) Act Chapter 8:01, enacted 1998. [source on file].

31. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Guyana (ratification: 2001) Submitted: 2011; accessed November 9, 2011; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:11003:0::NO::: [source on file].

32. UNESCO. Education for All Global Monitoring Report: Reaching the Marginalized. Paris; 2010. www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2010-marginalization/.

33. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown official. Email communication to USDOL official. June 3, 2013.

34. Government of Guyana. Highlights of Guyana's Efforts in the Fight against Child Labour during 2013 Georgetown; January 10, 2014. [source on file].

35. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown official. Email communication to USDOL official. June 6, 2014.

36. U.S. Embassy- Georgetown. reporting, June 27, 2011.

37. Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security. National Steering Committee on Child Labour, Government of Guyana, [online] January 9, 2012 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://mlhsss.gov.gy/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=52.

38. Ministry of Labour Human Services and Social Security. Inter-Agency Task Force Launches TIP Report, Government of Guyana, [online] January 9, 2012 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://www.mlhsss.gov.gy/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=71%3Ainter-agency-task-force-launches-tip-report&catid=11%3Alabour-issues&Itemid=1.

39. ICF Macro. Independent Final Evaluation of EDUCARE: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Guyana. Calverton, MD; 2009. http://www.dol.gov/ilab/projects/summaries/Guyana_CECL_feval.pdf.

40. Childs Rights Information Network. Guyana: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review. London; May 11, 2010. http://crin.org/arabic/resources/infodetail.asp?id=22303.

41. ILO-IPEC. Tackling child labour through education in African, Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) States (TACKLE), ILO-IPEC, [online] n.d. [cited February 27, 2014]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/projects/global/tackle/guyana/lang--en/index.htm

42. Stabroek News. "TACKLE to Combat Child Labour." stabroeknews.com [online] June 17, 2010 [cited January 9, 2012]; http://www.stabroeknews.com/2010/news/stories/06/17/tackle-to-combat-child-labour/.

43. ILO-IPEC. Guyana-IPEC Projects. Geneva; November 27, 2011. http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Regionsandcountries/latin-america-and-caribbean/WCMS_IPEC_CON_TXT_GUY_PRO_EN/lang--en/index.htm.

44. ILO-IPEC. Good Practices in Tackling Child Labour through Education. Geneva; October 10, 2013. http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Informationresources/WCMS_IPEC_PUB_22956/lang--en/index.htm.

45. "Strides Being Made in Combating TIP " Guyana Times, Georgetown, November 26, 2011. [source on file].

46. ILO-IPEC News. "Labour Ministry Launches School Retention and Child Labour Prevention Programme." ilo.org [online] November 28, 2011 [cited January 23, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/projects/global/tackle/guyana/WCMS_191933/lang--en/index.htm.

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