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2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, Togo made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government intercepted a number of child trafficking victims and increased its prosecution of traffickers of children. With assistance from the ILO-IPEC, the Government continued to implement a child labor monitoring system, expanding into 48 new communities. However, the Government has not devoted sufficient resources to enforce its child labor laws effectively. Togo’s social programs to combat the worst forms of child labor do not match the scope of the problem and rely largely on NGOs and international organizations for implementation. Children continue to work in dangerous conditions, especially in agriculture and domestic service.


Learn More: ILAB in Togo | Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor | Previous Reports:

Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Children in Togo are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in dangerous activities in agriculture and domestic service.(3-8) Almost 75 percent of all working children ages 5-14 are engaged in agriculture. Although evidence is limited, there are reports that children are found harvesting goods such as cotton, cocoa, and coffee.(2, 4, 9-11) Limited evidence suggests that children also herd cattle and produce beans and corn.(6, 11-13) Children working in agriculture may perform physically arduous tasks, risk occupational injury and disease from using cutting instruments, and exposure to insecticides and herbicides.(3, 4, 7) In addition, children working in agriculture may carry heavy loads.(6, 14)

Roughly 25 percent of working children are employed as domestic servants. The majority are girls ages 5 to 14.(2, 4, 10, 15, 16) Child domestics may be required to work long hours and perform strenuous tasks without sufficient food or shelter. These children may be isolated in private homes and are susceptible to physical and sexual abuse.(6, 7, 17-21)

Children work on the streets as porters and small-scale traders.(3, 8, 11, 12, 22) Reportedly, these children carry heavy loads, which may cause severe lifelong back problems.(23) Children are also involved in commercial sexual exploitation and in the sex tourism industry in Lomé.(8, 24, 25)

Children are found in other activities constituting the worst forms of child labor, such as forced begging. The practice of sending Muslim boys to Koranic schools, or daaras, is a tradition in certain communities and is more common in Togo’s Savanes region.(9, 11, 22) Some boys are forced by their teachers to beg in the streets.(8, 26)

Children in Togo are trafficked for forced labor in agriculture, domestic service, and commercial sexual exploitation.(8, 20, 26) In 2012, most children were trafficked from rural areas, especially from the Savannah, Plateaux, Centrale, and Kara regions.(27) Children in Togo are frequently trafficked to the capital, Lomé, for domestic service, market work, and commercial sexual exploitation.(8, 26, 28) The customary practice of confiage, which involves sending a child to a relative or friend for school, may place children at risk of exploitation by internal trafficking.(7, 17, 18, 26)

Children are trafficked from Togo to countries in West and Central Africa to work in agriculture. In addition, Children from Benin and Ghana are trafficked to Togo for forced labor.(26) Over the reporting period, increased efforts to secure the border between Togo and Benin appear to have reduced child trafficking to the east. However, as a result, child trafficking is reportedly on the rise along the western border.(27)

Although education is free and compulsory until age 15, access to education services is still limited in Togo.(11, 29) According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in 2012, there are not enough schools and many children in rural areas have no access to primary education. In 2007, the ILO reported that 39 percent of classrooms in Togo were considered in unsatisfactory condition, and children might enter the workforce at a young age due to the limited number of schools.(3, 7) In 2012, the CRC reported that half of all children in Togo are not registered at birth, despite government efforts in 2011 to register 140,000 children. Unable to prove citizenship, non-registered children are vulnerable to trafficking and may have difficulty accessing health and education services.(2, 7, 30)

In 2012, the CRC reported that sexual harassment and rape of girls in school is widespread throughout Togo.(7) According to the UN, victims of sexual violence in schools often have extended absences or drop out.(31) Reports also indicate that girls perform domestic duties, such as fetching water and laundry, for their schoolteachers.(32)

Laws and Regulations on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Labor Code of 2006 sets the minimum age for employment at 15.(33) Law 1464 sets the minimum age at 18 for certain industrial and technical employment, including hazardous work. Law 1464 and the Labor Code also prohibit excessive work hours and night work for children.(33, 34) However, these laws do not establish penalties for employing children in hazardous child labor, including work at night.(11, 33, 34) In addition, according to the CEACR, although Law 1464 prohibits children from work that may harm their health, safety, or morals, the law also explicitly authorizes children 16 and above to operate dangerous tools such as winches and pulleys and to push heavy loads by wheelbarrow.(5, 7)

The Labor Code prohibits forced labor and the worst forms of child labor as defined in ILO Convention 182.(33) The Labor Code does not define forced labor and does not impose penalties sufficient to deter it. Violators of the Labor Code’s forced labor provisions can receive 3 to 6 months’ imprisonment, which can be doubled if it is a repeat offense, and a fine.(33)

The Child Code of 2007 further defines the worst forms of child labor, stiffens penalties for noncompliance with the minimum age law, and prohibits the trafficking of children as well as the recruitment of children into armed conflict and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The commercial sexual exploitation of children includes child pornography and child sex tourism.(11, 35) The Law for the Repression of Child Trafficking and the Child Code prohibit the trafficking of children and establish penalties for violations.(35, 36)

Decree 2008-129 established the right to free and compulsory primary education until age 15; however, in practice, the costs of uniforms and books prohibit many families from sending their children to school.(11, 29, 37, 38)

Institutional Mechanisms for Coordination and Enforcement

In 2001, the Government created the National Steering Committee for the Prohibition and Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor to coordinate and supervise national efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor. The Child Labor Unit of the Ministry of Labor (MOL) acts as its secretariat.(3, 9, 12, 13, 39) The National Steering Committee’s responsibilities include promoting child labor legislation, mobilizing resources, and collecting data. However, its actions to date have been limited to evaluating and approving NGO action programs to eliminate child labor.(13, 39) Members of the National Steering Committee attribute this shortcoming to their lack of financial resources. Its secretariat, the Child Labor Unit, is understaffed and has no budget.(3, 39)

At the regional level, child labor committees coordinate child labor efforts and raise awareness. These committees operate in a majority of Togolese villages and include representatives from several ministries, the National Council of Employers, unions, and NGOs.(9, 13, 27, 30, 40) Child labor committees coordinate efforts by sharing information with officials in Lomé about trafficking trends. Child labor committees also work with the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity (MASSN) to track the return of trafficking victims.(27, 30, 39)

The National Committee for the Reception and Social Reinsertion of Trafficked Children (CNARSEVT) is the focal point for trafficking information and statistics, and it coordinates actions against the worst forms of child labor. The MOL’s Child Labor Unit is responsible for assisting CNARSEVT.(3, 9, 30)

The MOL is also responsible for enforcing all labor laws, including child labor laws. At the local level, parent and student associations and village development committees also monitor the child labor situation.(13) In 2012, the MOL employed 75 labor inspectors, which was an increase from 62 inspectors employed the previous year.(41) However, the MOL acknowledges that funding for inspectors is insufficient. According to the UNICEF and several NGOs, inspectors do not devote enough time to the enforcement of child labor laws.(41) Further, information is not available on the number of child labor investigations conducted by the Government in 2012.(27)

The Ministry of Justice, the MASSN, and the police’s Child Protection Unit (CPU) are responsible for enforcing criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor. The MASSN maintains two social workers on call 24 hours a day to assist trafficking victims.(9, 40, 42) The CPU—which consists of five police officers, two social service agents, a nurse, eight prison guards, and one psychologist—manages child trafficking cases and, with the assistance of the Ministry of Justice, refers trafficking victims to appropriate services.(22, 42) The CPU lacks resources to conduct investigations, and its employees must respond to calls in taxis and personal cars.(43) Further, knowledge of the different laws protecting children among law enforcement personnel varies from region to region. Reportedly, staff members in some regional offices do not have copies of many child labor laws.(13)

In 2012, the Government reportedly intervened on behalf of 717 victims of child trafficking: 432 girls and 285 boys. Most of these children were intercepted prior to reaching their destination. This is an increase from 2011, when the Government reported 281 victims of child trafficking.(23, 27) During the reporting period, police arrested 290 child traffickers, a significant increase from the 23 arrested the previous year. Of these, 104 child traffickers were prosecuted.(23, 27) However, research did not uncover additional information on the results of these prosecutions. The Government does not publish information on penalties for child traffickers.(27)

Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The National Strategy on Eliminating Child Labor through Education, Training and Apprenticeship (2006) is the primary government policy instrument to prevent and eliminate child labor in Togo. This strategy supports universal basic education and education reform, and strengthens the capacity of parents and teachers to combat exploitive child labor through awareness raising.(3, 9, 39)

Togo’s National Plan of Action on Child Trafficking calls for legal and health services, including providing meals and medical support for child trafficking victims and awareness-raising activities for local communities and border officials. The plan promotes the education of children and improvement of livelihoods for families, and calls for the establishment of structures to monitor the trafficking of children.(44)

The National Labor Policy aims to raise awareness among parents, employers, and community leaders on child labor; provide labor inspectors with additional training on child labor; and calls for the adoption and implementation of the National Action Plan on Child Labor.(45, 46)

Child labor concerns are also mainstreamed into national development agendas and key policy documents including the following: Togo’s Education for All Program, Decent Work Country Program, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, and UN Development System Framework (2008-2012).(6, 13, 47-50)

The inclusion of child labor as a priority in development goals is an important accomplishment; however, some of the policies lack concrete action plans, including time frames and budgets, making it difficult to assess the ability of these policies to combat the worst forms of child labor.(44)

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

In 2012, Togo continued participating in the USDOL-funded, 5 year, $5 million Combating Exploitive Child Labor in Togo Through Education Project. Launched in 2007, this project withdrew 5,434 children and prevented 5,586 children from exploitive child labor in urban informal sectors, domestic service, rural agriculture, trafficking, and commercial sexual exploitation.(45) The project assisted the Government in creating and implementing a Child Labor Monitoring System (CLMS).(41, 45) Roughly 2,000 community members were trained to help monitor and report potential victims, and this information is fed into the CLMS database for use by Regional Labor Inspectors and the CPUs.(41, 45)

During the reporting period, the CLMS identified 734 children (386 girls and 348 boys) at risk of or victims of the worst forms of child labor.(41, 45) In 2012, the CLMS expanded into 48 new communities. At the close of the project, a total of 158 communities were part of the CLMS.(45)

In 2012, Togo participated in the USDOL-funded, 4-year Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues project, which is active in approximately 40 countries. In Togo, the project aims to build the capacity of the national Government and develop strategic policies to address the elimination of child labor and forced labor.(51) In addition, the project aims to improve the evidence base on child labor and forced labor through data collection and research and to strengthen legal protections and social service delivery for child domestic workers.(51) During the reporting period, Togo also maintained its engagement in two additional USDOL-funded regional projects, including a 4-year, $7.95 million project and a 3-year, $5 million project. These projects are designed to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in West Africa by strengthening sub-regional cooperation through the ECOWAS.(52, 53)

In 2012, the MASSN continued its campaign to disseminate the Child Code of 2007 and managed Allo 1011, a hotline to report child abuse.(9, 23, 26, 27) The MASSN continued managing the Tokoin Community Center, which receives victims referred by Allo 1011and is used as a temporary shelter.(23, 26, 27) In addition, the Government standardized operating procedures for shelters throughout Togo to ensure that child victims receive appropriate care.(27)

During the reporting period, the Government continued to support a pilot project to prevent child labor and child trafficking by providing families with young children, identified as high risk, with cash transfers. The Government also expanded a free school lunch program from 40,000 students to 44,000 students.(23, 41)

Despite the initiatives described here, Togo’s social programs to combat the worst forms of child labor do not match the scope of the problem and rely largely on NGOs and international organizations for implementation. As a result, many of these interventions may not be sustainable over the long term.

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


Suggested Actions

Year(s) Action Recommended

Laws and Regulations

Establish penalties for violations of the laws governing hazardous child labor, including requiring children to work at night.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Clearly define forced labor, and include sufficient penalties for violations of forced labor provisions.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Ensure that education is free, as provided for under Decree 2008-129, by eliminating school fees and other expenses.

2010, 2011, 2012

Coordination and Enforcement

Provide the Child Labor Unit with sufficient financial and human resources to implement its mandate.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Provide the MOL’s inspectors with adequate financial resources to enforce child labor laws.


Strengthen measures to investigate, prosecute, and convict individuals involved in the worst forms of child labor by

· Providing training for all personnel charged with the enforcement of relevant laws.

· Ensuring that all law enforcement personnel have access to child labor law reference materials.

· Providing sufficient resources to the police’s CPU.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

2011, 2012

Publish data on inspections and penalties assessed as well as criminal investigations and prosecutions of the worst forms of child labor.

2010, 2011, 2012


Ensure that policies comprehensively address child labor by

· Developing action plans and assessments for policy effectiveness to withdraw children from the worst forms of child labor.

· Developing time frames and budgets for each intervention.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Social Programs

Ensure the Government’s social protection programs to combat the worst forms of child labor are sufficient to address the scope of the problem and to promote the long-term sustainability of project initiatives.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Improve access to education by building additional schools and rehabilitating schools in poor condition.

2010, 2011, 2012

Provide additional training to teachers in order to

· Stop the practice of using students for domestic labor.

· Stop sexual abuse of students and penalize teachers who engage in such crimes.

2010, 2011, 2012

Provide more resources to ensure children are registered at birth.

2011, 2012

1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total.; accessed February 4, 2013; 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-IPEC. Combating Exploitative Child Labour through Education in Togo. Project Document. Geneva, September 2008.

4. Direction Generale de la Statistique et de la Comptabilite Nationale de la Republique Togolaise. Enquete Nationale sur le Travail des Enfants au Togo: Rapport Final. Geneva, ILO-IPEC 2010. [hardcopy of file].

5. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Togo (ratification: 1984) Published: 2011 accessed February 2, 2012;

6. International Labour Office. Children in hazardous work: What we know, What we need to do. Geneva, International Labour Organization; 2011. 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.

7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Consideration of reports submitted by States Parties under

Article 44 of the Convention. Concluding observations: Togo Geneva; March 8, 2012. Report No. CRC/C/TGO/CO/3-4.

8. International Trade Union Confederation. Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Togo. Geneva; July, 2012.,11652.html?lang=en.

9. U.S. Embassy- Lome. reporting, February 2, 2012.

10. General Directorate of Statistics and National Accounting. Report on the Census of the Potential Beneficiaries of the Project: Fight against Child Labour through Education in Togo. Lome, March, 2009.

11. U.S. Department of State. "Togo," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2012. Washington, DC; April 19, 2013;

12. USDOL. TRIP Report to Togo Washington, DC, July 26-31, 2011.

13. Agbodan, K. Etude sur l'analyse des dispositifs regionaux, prefectoraux et communautaires de collecte et de gestion de donnees sur le travail des enfants au Togo. Lome, ILO-IPEC January, 2010.

14. International Labour Office. Farming, International Labour Organization, January 31, 2012 [cited October 26, 2012];

15. Direction Generale de la Statistique et de la Comptabilite Nationale. Rapport de l'Enquete de Base sur le Travail des Enfants au Togo. Lome, July, 2010. [hardcopy on file].

16. WAO-Afrique. "Le travail domestique des enfants ne devrait plus exister au Togo." [online] May 4, 2011 [cited March 15, 2013];

17. Grumiau, S. "Spotlight on Claudine Akakpo (CSTT-Togo)." [online] January 4, 2010 [cited March 15, 2013];

18. Integrated Regional Information Networks. "Togo: How to improve a 'worst form of labour'." [online] December 31, 2008 [cited March 15, 2013];

19. Sullivan, K. "In Togo, a 10-Year-Old's Muted Cry: 'I Couldn't Take Any More'." [online] December 26, 2008 [cited March 15, 2013];

20. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Togo (ratification: 2000) Published: 2011 accessed February 2, 2012;

21. International Labour Office. Domestic Labour, International Labour Organization, [cited October 26, 2012];

22. Government of Togo. La Politique Nationale de Protection de l'Enfant. Lome, December, 2008. [hardcopy on file].

23. U.S. Embassy- Lome official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. June 7, 2013.

24. Martin-Achard, N, H Bonnaud. "UNICEF-supported centre helps rehabilitate child sex workers in Togo." [online] December 31, 2008 [cited March 15, 2013];

25. ECPAT. Togo: Global Monitoring Report on the Status of Action Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Bangkok, 2007.

26. U.S. Department of State. "Togo," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2012. Washington, DC; June 19, 2012;

27. U.S. Embassy- Lome. reporting, February 12, 2013

28. Behrendt, A, SM Mbaye. L'impact psychosocial de la traite sur les enfants dans la région des Plateaux et la région Centrale au Togo 2008.

29. U.S. Embassy- Lome official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 22, 2011.

30. U.S. Embassy- Lome. reporting, February 17, 2012.

31. United Nations Secretary-General. "In Schools and Educational Settings," in Report on Violence against Children. New York; 2006;

32. Antonowicz, L. Too Often in Silence: A report on school-based violence in West and Central Africa March 2010.

33. Government of Togo. Code du travail, 2006, enacted December 5, 2006.

34. Government of Togo. Déterminant les travaux interdits aux enfants conformement au point 4 de l'article 151 de la loi No 2006-010 du 13 decembre 2006 portant code du travail, Arrete No. 1464, enacted November 12, 2007.

35. Government of Togo. Code de l'enfant, Public Law Number 2007-017, enacted July 6, 2007.

36. Government of Togo. Relative au trafic d'enfants au Togo, Loi No. 2005-009 enacted August 3, 2005.

37. Social Centre Promotion et Developpement Humain. "Business as usual." Togo Monde, 72(2010);

38. Gutnick, D. "Talk to make things change." [online] February 15, 2008 [cited March 15, 2013];

39. Jeannet, S. USDOL-managed External Midterm Evaluation of the Combating Exploitive Child Labor in Togo through Education Project (CECLET). Washington, DC, Macro International June 15, 2010. [hardcopy on file].

40. U.S. Embassy- Lome. reporting, January 31, 2011.

41. U.S. Embassy- Lome. reporting, January 31, 2013.

42. UNODC. Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Vienna, February 2009.

43. U.S. Embassy- Lome. reporting, February 1, 2010.

44. Government of Togo. Plan National d'Action de Lutte Contre La Traite des Enfants a des Fins d'Exploitation de Leur Travail. Lome, October 4, 2004.

45. ILO-IPEC. Combating Exploitative Child Labour in Togo through Education. Technical Progress Report. Geneva, July 25, 2012.

46. Government of Togo. Projet de politique nationale du travail au Togo. Lome, November 2010.

47. Government of Togo. Full Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper 2009-2011. Washington, DC, International Monetary Fund May, 2009.

48. International Monetary Fund. Togo: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper—Progress Report. Washington, DC, January 2011. Report No. 11/7.

49. United Nations. Plan Cadre des Nations Unies Pour l'Aide au Developpement Au Togo (UNDAF) 2008-2012. Lome, April 6, 2007.

50. World Bank. Education for All: Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund: Togo. Washington, DC, June 2009.

51. ILO-IPEC. Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; April 2013.

52. USDOL. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa by Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation Through ECOWAS. Technical Cooperation Project Summary. Washington, DC, January 19, 2010.

53. USDOL. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa by Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation Through ECOWAS-II. Technical Cooperation Project Summary. Washington, DC, March 1, 2011.