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Sao Tomé and Principe


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2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, São Tomé and Príncipe made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government held a tripartite national seminar on the worst forms of child labor, and the National Assembly ratified a new Penal Code that criminalizes human trafficking, setting steeper penalties for labor trafficking that involves minors younger than 16. However, São Tomé and Príncipe’s legislation does not fully protect children from the worst forms of child labor. Further, the Government has not established a coordinating mechanism or national policy to combat the worst forms of child labor, and current Government programs do not target all sectors in which child labor occurs. Children in São Tomé and Príncipe continue to engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in domestic service.

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Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Children in São Tomé and Príncipe are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in domestic service. Some children in São Tomé and Príncipe are also involved in domestic service. (3-10) Children employed as domestics may work long hours, performing strenuous tasks, without sufficient food or shelter. They may be isolated in private homes and are susceptible to physical and sexual abuse.(11, 12) Some reports suggest that children may also perform unsafe tasks in carpentry and artisanal workshops.(3, 4)

The most common form of work children do in São Tomé and Príncipe is light work on farms and plantations in rural areas.(5, 6, 8-10, 13) However, there is limited evidence that some agricultural work is dangerous.(14) Children working in agriculture may use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides.(14, 15)

There is some evidence that children are engaged in fishing, though the significance of the problem is thought to be limited.(5, 13) These children may work long hours, perform physically demanding tasks, and face dangers such as drowning.(16, 17)

Limited evidence suggests that the commercial sexual exploitation of children is also a problem in São Tomé and Príncipe.(18, 19)

There are reports of children working on the streets, but specific information on hazards is unknown.(3-6)



Laws and Regulations on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Law on Individual Labor Contracts sets the minimum age for work in São Tomé and Príncipe at 14 and the minimum age for hazardous work at 18.(20) The law also limits children younger than age 18 from working more than 7 hours per day and 35 hours per week.(20) In order to work legally, children ages 14 to 17 must obtain written parental consent and provide proof of school attendance.(9, 10) The legislation calls for the development of a list of hazardous occupations from which children will be prohibited, and although the Government intends to issue a list, one has not yet been developed.(21)

The Constitution of São Tomé and Príncipe and the Penal Code prohibit forced or compulsory labor.(6, 21, 22) In 2012, the National Assembly ratified a new Penal Code. The legislation prohibits engaging in a sexual act with a child younger than 14 as well as directing a child younger than 14 to engage in a sexual act, protecting some young children from sexual exploitation.(21) The Penal Code also explicitly penalizes engaging in or facilitating sexual acts with a child under 14 for profit or gain.(21) However, laws do not fully protect all children younger than age 18 from commercial sexual exploitation, and child prostitutes between 14 and 18 are viewed by the law as criminals and are subject to prosecution.(18, 19, 23) The new Penal Code proscribes human trafficking for the purposes of labor and sexual exploitation.(21) The Code sets steeper penalties for labor trafficking when the crime involves a minor under 16 years of age.(21)

São Tomé and Príncipe’s law prohibits the use of a child by an adult for illicit activity.(9, 10) The minimum age for compulsory recruitment into the military is 18.(23, 24)

The Constitution guarantees the provision of free and compulsory basic education.(22) The Basic Education System Law establishes 6 years of mandatory basic education, providing free schooling to children through sixth grade or age 15, whichever comes first.(9, 10, 25) However, in practice, some students in rural areas stop attending school after fourth grade.(26) Although the extent of the problem is unknown, some schools do not provide education through the sixth grade. Those that do are largely concentrated in district capitals and are inaccessible to rural children.(18, 27) Children who stop attending school before reaching the minimum age for employment are especially vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor, as they are not in school but may not legally work.



Institutional Mechanisms for Coordination and Enforcement

Research found no evidence that the Government of São Tomé and Príncipe has established a coordinating mechanism to combat the worst forms of child labor. However, the Government is working to form a Tripartite committee to combat child labor.(13, 28) Although the body is not yet formalized, the Government has begun working informally with labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce on efforts to combat child labor, including the development of a national action plan and a list of hazardous activities prohibited for children.(29)

The Department of Labor Inspection within the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is responsible for enforcing labor laws, including those regarding exploitative child labor.(10) Due to budgetary restrictions, the Department lacks basic equipment for conducting inspections and daily operations. It is housed in a single office, has outdated and malfunctioning computers, and does not have a vehicle.(4, 8, 10) The Department of Labor Inspection forms teams to deal with labor exploitation on an ad hoc basis. The teams comprise members from other government agencies, including immigration officials, the police, tax administration officials, social workers, and members of the social security administration.(4, 8-10) The Government employs 15 labor inspectors who work in these small teams throughout the country.(8-10, 30)

Complaints regarding the worst forms of child labor may be lodged with the Department of Labor Inspection.(8) During the reporting period, no complaints of exploitative child labor were received and no labor investigations involved children.(10)

The Ministry of Justice, Public Administration, and Parliamentary Affairs is responsible for the enforcement of criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor and trafficking in persons. During the reporting period, there were no criminal investigations or prosecutions involving the worst forms of child labor or child trafficking.(9, 10)



Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Research found no evidence of any national policies to address the worst forms of child labor. However, during the reporting period, the Government expressed its intention to draft a national action plan against child labor.(13, 21, 28)

São Tomé and Príncipe and other members of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking countries have approved four target areas in which they will focus their efforts to combat child labor. These areas consist of the exchange of information and experiences, awareness-raising campaigns, use of statistical methodologies to collect child labor data, and technical cooperation and training.(31-33)



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

The Government participates in a USDOL-funded program to combat the worst forms of child labor in five Lusophone countries in Africa. The 2-year, $500,000 project aims to foster information sharing between Brazil and targets Lusophone countries about best practices for eliminating the worst forms of child labor. The project will also provide technical assistance for countries to develop or refine national action plans on child labor.(34) Under this project, the Government held a three-day national seminar on child labor in August 2012.(13, 28, 35) The seminar included union, government, and business representatives.(13) During the meeting, participants laid the framework for a national action plan against child labor and expressed an intent to form a Tripartite Committee to combat child labor.(13, 28, 35, 36)

The Government also supports three centers that provide shelter, education, and skills training to approximately 250 at-risk children, including street children and orphans.(8-10, 26, 37) Apart from partial funding, the Government provides the centers with land, buildings, social work staff, and school stipends for beneficiaries.(9, 10) During the reporting period, the Government also continued a media campaign to prevent child labor.(38)

The Government continues to implement the Education for All Program. The Program will include an initial, comprehensive data collection to better understand the current state of education in the country. Other components will include capacity building for teachers and a campaign to sensitize parents to the importance of education.(39) The Government also runs a program to help poor mothers and provides assistance for some low-income families to keep their children in school.(6, 40) However, the question of whether these programs have an effect on child labor does not appear to have been addressed.

The Government does not have programs that specifically target children in agriculture, domestic service, or commercial sexual exploitation.



Based on the reporting above, the following actions would advance the elimination of the worst forms of child labor in Sao Tomé and Principe:

Area

Suggested Actions

Year(s) Action Recommended

Laws and Regulations

Develop a list of hazardous occupations in which children younger than age 18 are prohibited from working.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Amend the law to protect all children younger than age 18 from commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Amend the law to ensure that children in prostitution are treated as victims rather than offenders under the law.

2011, 2012

Explore ways to increase access to schooling and enforce the compulsory education law.

2010, 2011, 2012

Coordination and Enforcement

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

2010, 2011, 2012

Address the resource needs of the Department of Labor Inspection to effectively conduct inspections and enforce child labor laws.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Policies

Adopt policies to address the worst forms of child labor, particularly for children working in agriculture, domestic service, and commercial sexual exploitation.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Social Programs

Assess the impact of existing education programs on child labor.

2011, 2012

Develop new and expand existing programs to reach more children in the worst forms of child labor, particularly those in agriculture, domestic service, and commercial sex work.

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. Reis C. "Trabalho infantil comeca a ser cada vez mais frequente em Sao Tome e Principe." iOnline.pt [online] June 16, 2010 [cited February 3, 2012]; http://www1.ionline.pt/conteudo/64787-trabalho-infantil-comeca-ser-cada-vez-mais-frequente-em-sao-tome-e-principe.

4. U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, March 12, 2010.

5. Elsa Teixeira Pinto. Estudo sobre o Trabalho Infantil no Sector Informal em Sao Tome e Principe; 2007. hard copy on file.

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

7. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Sao Tome and Principe (ratification: 2005) Submitted: 2011; February 3, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=26579&chapter=9&query=%28%28Sao+Tome%29%29+%40ref&highlight=&querytype=bool&context=0.

8. U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, March 30, 2011.

9. U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, January 19, 2012.

10. U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, January 23, 2013.

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. 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/docments/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.

13. Government of Sao Tome and Principe. Seminario Nacional sobre o Trabalho Infantil em Sao Tome e Principe; August 2012. hard copy on file.

14. xInternational 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/docments/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. 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.

16. International Labour Office. Fishing and Aquaculture, International Labour Organization, [online] January 31, 2012 [cited November 2, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Agriculture/WCMS_172419/lang--en/index.htm.

17. 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 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.

18. Childs Rights Information Network. Sao Tome and Principe: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review. Geneva, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; January 31, 2011. http://ftp.crin.org/resources/infoDetail.asp?ID=23920&flag=report#.

19. UN OHCHR. Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Sao Tome and Principe. Geneva; March 16, 2011. Report No.: A/HRC/17/13. http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G11/118/49/PDF/G1111849.pdf?OpenElement.

20. Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Regime Jurídico das Condições Individuais de Trabalho, (June 11, 1992); http://www.legis-palop.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=62&Itemid=76&limitstart=10.

21. U.S. Embassy- Libreville official. E-mail communication to. USDOL official. March 12, 2013.

22. Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Constitução da República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe, (January 25, 2003); http://www.gov.st/data/filestorage/docs/constistp.pdf.

23. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (no. 182) Sao Tome and Principe (ratification: 2005) Submitted: 2011; February 3, 2012; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=27096&chapter=9&query=%28%28Sao+Tome%29%29+%40ref&highlight=&querytype=bool&context=0.

24. 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, UK; 2012; http://www.child-soldiers.org/global_report_reader.php?id=562.

25. Government of Sao Tome and Principe. II Report on the Implementation of the convention on the Rights of the Child. Libreville; November 2008.

26. Winslow R. A Comparative Criminology Tour of the World: Sao Tome and Principe; 2007. http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/rwinslow/africa/sao_tome_principe.html.

27. Right to Education Project. National law and policies on minimum age- Sao Tome and Principe, right-to-education.org, [online] [cited February 3, 2012]; http://www.right-to-education.org/country-node/389/country-constitutional.

28. ILO-IPEC. Supporting Actions to Meet the 2015 Targets to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Lusophone Countries in Africa. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; October 2012.

29. U.S. Embassy- Libreville official. E-mail communication to. USDOL official. March 26, 2013.

30. U.S. Embassy- Libreville official. E-mail communication to. USDOL official. July 14, 2011.

31. Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. Declaracão de Luanda. Luanda, Ministras e os Ministros do Trabalho e dos Assuntos Sociais dos Países da Comunidade de Língua Portuguesa; March 29, 2011. http://www.cplp.org/id-2281.aspx.

32. Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. Resolução sobre a Prevenção e a Eliminação da Exploração do Trabalho Infantil na CPLP. Luanda; March 29, 2011. http://www.cplp.org/Default.aspx?ID=2281.

33. Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries. II Reunião de pontos focais para área do Trabalho Infantil da CPLP. Maputo; October 28, 2010. http://www.cplp.org/Default.aspx?ID=2281.

34. ILO-IPEC. Supporting Actions to Meet the 2015 Targets to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Lusophone Countries in Africa through Knowledge, Awareness Raising and South-South Cooperation. Technical Cooperation Project Summary. Geneva; December 2010.

35. Centro de Informacao em Protecao Social. Sao Tome e Principe: Pais Realiza 1 Seminario Nacional Sobre Trabalho Infantil; October 19, 2012. http://www.cipsocial.org/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=1044.

36. Silva N. "Sao Tome e Principe Vai Acolher uma Reuniao Sub-Regional Sobre Trabalho Infantil." O Parvo, Sao Tome e Principe, October 26, 2012. http://159.253.149.220/~parvodig/jupgrade/index.php/noticias/sociedade/item/644-s%C3%A3o-tom%C3%A9-e-pr%C3%ADncipe-vai-acolher-uma-reuni%C3%A3o-sub-regional-sobre-trabalho-infantil.

37. U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, March 10, 2011.

38. U.S. Department of State. Sao Tome and Principe. In: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2011. Washington, DC; May 24, 2012; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186234.htm.

39. ILO-IPEC. Supporting Actions to Meet the 2015 Targets to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Lusophone Countries in Africa. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; October 2011.

40. U.S. Embassy- Libreville official. E-mail communication to. USDOL official. February 21, 2012.