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Tonga


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2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2012, Tonga made no advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The lack of information regarding the worst forms of child labor in Tonga may be an indicator of a small or hidden problem. The country has no laws specifying a minimum age for work or defining hazardous forms of work for children under age 18, leaving children unprotected from many types of labor exploitation.

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Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

There is little information available about the extent and nature of the worst forms of child labor in Tonga. However, limited reports suggest that children may be engaged in agriculture and fishing.(3, 4) Children working in agriculture may be required to use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides.(3, 5, 6) Children working in fishing may work long hours, perform physically demanding tasks, and face dangers such as drowning.(3, 7)

There have also been a limited number of reports of children working as household domestics.(3, 8) They may be required to work long hours, performing strenuous tasks, without sufficient food or shelter.(9) Although evidence is limited, there are also some reports of children involved in commercial sexual exploitation.(3, 8)



Laws and Regulations on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Tonga has no laws specifying a minimum age for work or defining hazardous forms of work for children.(3, 4) There is no comprehensive labor code in Tonga, though the government is working with the ILO toward the establishment of a new labor law in 2013.(10)

The Constitution of Tonga prohibits slavery and servitude.(11) The Transnational Crimes Act outlaws the trafficking of children.(3) The Criminal Offenses Act prohibits the procurement of any girl under age 21 for prostitution either within or outside the country.(12) The Act does not provide the same protections for boys under 21 but it prohibits “indecent assault” on both boys and girls under age 12.(3, 12) The Act was amended in 2003 to prohibit child pornography.(13) Tongan law also criminalizes the use of children as “involuntary agents” in illicit activities.(3)

There is no military conscription in Tonga. The minimum age for voluntary service is 18; however, with parental approval, children can enlist in the military at age 16 for noncombat positions.(14) Education is compulsory to age 14.(15)



Institutional Mechanisms for Coordination and Enforcement

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

The Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Labor (MOCTL) is responsible for the enforcement of labor laws. The MOCTL’s business license inspectors look for children engaged in the worst forms of child labor in the course of their regular inspection duties.(3) If the MOCTL receives a specific report of child labor, the Chief Labor Inspector visits the site, conducts an investigation, and requests police involvement if necessary. There were no known cases of child labor reported or investigated during the reporting period.(3)

The MOCTL, the police, and the Immigration Department enforce laws related to forced labor, trafficking, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and the use of children in illicit activities. There were no known cases of child trafficking, child forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation of children, or the use of children in illicit activities investigated during the reporting period.(3)



Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

There does not appear to be any Government research available on the worst forms of child labor.

The Government’s Strategic Development Plan (2009-2013) sets the objective of increasing the performance of technical and vocational education services and infrastructure in the country.(16) Priority is given to women and children to strengthen competencies in agriculture, horticulture, fishing, business and marketing, plumbing, carpentry, and motor maintenance.(17) Research did not determine the extent to which children who receive this training are protected from dangerous work, and the overall impact of this Plan on child labor does not appear to have been addressed.

With funding from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, the Government of Tonga continued to implement the Tonga Education Policy Framework during the reporting period. The main goals of the Framework are to build the capacity of the Ministry of Education, improve school quality, and achieve universal primary education.(3) The impact of this policy on the worst forms of child labor does not appear to have been addressed.



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

Although limited evidence suggests that there may be problems in some sectors, research found no evidence of any programs to address the worst forms of child labor.



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

Area

Suggested Actions

Year(s) Action Recommended

Laws and Regulations

Establish labor regulations that include a minimum age for employment of 14 years and a minimum age for hazardous work of 18 years in accordance with international standards.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Define hazardous occupations and activities forbidden for children.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Amend legislation to include boys as victims in prostitution-related crimes.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Coordination and Enforcement

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

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Policies

Conduct research to better identify the extent and nature of the worst forms of child labor in Tonga to design appropriate policies and programs.

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Ensure that the vocational education curriculum under Strategic Development Plan Nine incorporates measures to protect children from dangerous tasks.

2011, 2012

Assess the impact the existing policies may have on addressing child labor.

2010, 2011, 2012

Social Programs

Implement programs to address the worst forms of child labor in sectors in which they are occurring.

2010, 2011, 2012



1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total; accessed February 4, 2013; http://www.uis.unesco.org/Pages/default.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

2. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. February 5, 2013. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children’s work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

3. U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, January 31, 2013.

4. U.S. Department of State. "Tonga," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2012. Washington, DC; April 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2012&dlid=204245.

5. 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 agriculture is limited, 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.

6. 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.

7. International Labour Office. Fishing and Aquaculture, International Labour Organization, [online] January 31, 2012 [cited October 26, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Agriculture/WCMS_172419/lang--en/index.htm.

8. U.S. Department of State. "Tonga," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2012. Washington, DC; June 19, 2012; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192598.pdf.

9. International Labour Office. Domestic Labour, International Labour Organization, [online] [cited October 26, 2012]; http://www.ilo.org/ipec/areas/Childdomesticlabour/lang--en/index.htm.

10. U.S. Embassy- Suva official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 23, 2013.

11. Government of Tonga. Constitution of Tonga, enacted 1988. http://www.paclii.org/to/legis/consol_act/cot238/.

12. Government of Tonga. Criminal Offenses Act, enacted 1988. http://www.paclii.org/to/legis/consol_act/co136/.

13. Government of Tonga. Criminal Offenses (Amendment) Act 2003, enacted 2003. http://legislation.to/Tonga/DATA/AMD/1988-018/CriminalOffences(Amendment) Act2007.pdf.

14. Government of Tonga. Tonga Defence Services Act 1992, 017, enacted 1992. http://legislation.to/Tonga/DATA/PRIN/1992-017/TongaDefenceServicesAct1992.pdf.

15. UNESCO. EFA Global Monitoring Report 2012. Paris; 2012. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002180/218003e.pdf.

16. Government of Tonga Prime Minister's Office. National Strategic Planning Framework. Nuku'alofa, Government of Tonga; February 2009. www.sprep.org/att/IRC/eCOPIES/Countries/Tonga/62.pdf.

17. Kingdom of Tonga and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Joint Country Strategy 2009-2013 in Support of Tonga's Strategic Development Plan 9, 2009-2013. Noumea, Government of Tonga; September 2009. www.spc.int/sppu/images/.../complete%20tonga%20jcs%20lowr.pdf.