Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burundi

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Burundi

2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2015, Burundi made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government provided refresher training to some labor inspectors and continued to provide funding for social programs that may contribute to the prevention or elimination of child labor. However, children in Burundi are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture, and in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation. Education in Burundi is not compulsory, increasing the risk of children’s involvement in child labor. Law enforcement officials lack the necessary resources to effectively conduct labor inspections and criminal investigations. In addition, social programs do not target all of the sectors in which children work.

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Children in Burundi are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture. Children are also engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation.(1-10) According to a national study published by the Government of Burundi and the ILO, the majority of children work in the production of cash crops such as coffee, cotton, palm oil, sugarcane, and tea.(5) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Burundi.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

Working children, ages 5 to 14 (% and population):

27.2 (633,126)

School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):

60.9

Children combining work and school, ages 7 to 14 (%):

26.0

Primary completion rate (%):

66.6

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2014, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(11)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis of statistics from Demographic and Health Survey, 2010–2011.(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

Production of tea,* coffee,* sugarcane,* cotton,* palm oil,* potatoes,* and rice* (1, 5, 7, 8)

Fishing, including preparing materials and equipment,* preparing meals for fishermen,* loading and unloading materials from vessels,* and cleaning the vessels* (1, 5, 7, 8)

Herding and feeding livestock* (5, 9)

Industry

Extracting,*† washing,* and transporting minerals* in mines and quarries, including artisanal gold mines* (1, 5-8, 13, 14)

Making and transporting bricks* (1, 7-9, 15)

Construction,* including transporting materials,* welding,* and installing electrical cables*† (5)

Services

Domestic work (1, 5-7, 9)

Street vending, including selling food,* newspapers,* cigarettes,* and used clothes and shoes* (5, 6, 9)

Begging* (6)

Handling and transporting heavy loads*† (5, 6)

Cleaning, cooking, ironing, and laundering clothes in hotels and restaurants* (5)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1-7, 9, 10, 14, 16)

Domestic work as a result of human trafficking (2, 5, 14, 17)

Forced labor in agriculture, mining, construction, street vending, and begging, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (9, 10)

Use in armed conflict as a result of human trafficking* (18, 19)

* 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.

Burundian children are trafficked within the country for domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation.(2-4, 10, 20) Children are recruited from rural areas for domestic work and later exploited in commercial sexual exploitation.(10) Women sometimes offer free room and board to girls, but then force the children into commercial sexual exploitation to cover their living expenses; these brothels are located in the poorer areas of Bujumbura, along Tanganyika Lake, on trucking routes, and in other urban centers such as Gitega, Ngozi, and Rumonge.(2, 3, 9, 10) Burundian girls are also trafficked internationally for commercial sexual exploitation in Kenya, the Middle East, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.(10, 19) Limited evidence suggests children are trafficked to Tanzania for work in agriculture.(21)

During the reporting period, political instability and conflict may have impacted the Government’s ability to address the worst forms of child labor. More than 220,000 Burundians, including 6,000 unaccompanied or separated children, have fled into neighboring countries.(22-24) Limited evidence indicates that Burundian children have been recruited from Rwandan refugee camps by armed Burundian opposition groups for weapons training.(23) In July 2015, 58 children participated in an armed invasion of a military position in Kayanza province; reports indicate that the children were trafficked by opposition groups with false promises of work in Rwanda.(18, 19, 25)

The conflict has impaired children’s access to education as schools have been damaged by grenade blasts.(22, 26) Additionally, a lack of birth registration and the cost of books and uniforms prevented children from accessing free public schooling.(9, 26)

Burundi 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

 

The Government has established 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

16

Article 3 of the Labor Code; Article 3 of the Ministerial Ordinance to Regulate Child Labor (27, 28)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 13 of the Ministerial Ordinance to Regulate Child Labor (28)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

Yes

 

Articles 9–15 of the Ministerial Ordinance to Regulate Child Labor (28)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Articles 4 and 10 of the Trafficking in Persons Law (29)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Articles 242–243 and 514 of the Penal Code; Articles 4 and 10 of the Trafficking in Persons Law (29, 30)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Articles 519–521 of the Penal Code (30)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

No

 

 

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

N/A*

 

 

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

Yes

18

Article 6(c) of the National Defense Troops Law (31)

Compulsory Education Age

No

 

 

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 17 of the Law on Basic and Secondary Education (32)

* No conscription (33)

The Labor Code prohibits work by children under age 16 in public and private enterprises, including farms, where such work is carried out under the supervision of an employer. However, the law’s minimum age protections do not apply to children outside of formal employment relationships.(27, 34, 35)

The Penal Code contains certain prohibitions on the commercial sexual exploitation of children; however, the law does not prohibit the distribution and possession of child pornography.(30)

Article 45 of the Constitution prohibits the use of children in armed conflict. However, the Penal Code only criminalizes the use of children under age 15 in armed conflict, leaving children ages 15–17 vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.(30, 36)

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

General Directorate of Labor and Professional Development

Administer and enforce all labor laws, including those on child labor. Operate within the Ministry of Public Service, Labor, and Social Security (MFPTSS).(37)

National Police and the Brigade for the Protection of Women and Children

Conduct criminal investigations on the worst forms of child labor, including forced child labor, child trafficking, and the use of children in illicit activities. The National Police forwards investigation findings to the Ministry of Justice.(1, 7) The Brigade for the Protection of Women and Children, a division of the National Police, is charged with protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation.(1)

Ministry of Justice

Prosecute cases of the worst forms of child labor.(14)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

 In 2015, labor law enforcement agencies in Burundi took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Labor Law Enforcement Efforts Related to Child Labor

Overview of Labor Law Enforcement

2014

2015

Labor Inspectorate Funding

Unknown (7)

Unknown (38)

Number of Labor Inspectors

18 (1, 7)

12 (38)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Yes (38)

Yes (38)

Training for Labor Inspectors

   

Initial Training for New Employees

No (38)

No (38)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Unknown (7)

No (38)

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown (7)

Yes (38)

Number of Labor Inspections

Unknown (7)

108 (38)

Number Conducted at Worksite

Unknown

Unknown

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

Unknown (7)

Unknown (38)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

0 (7)

0 (38)

Number of Penalties Imposed That Were Collected

N/A

N/A

Routine Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Routine Inspections Targeted

Unknown

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (38)

Yes (38)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

No (38)

No (38)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

No (1, 7)

No (38)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

No (38)

No (38)

 

According to the ILO’s recommendation of 1 inspector for every 40,000 workers in less developed countries, Burundi should employ roughly 123 inspectors in order to adequately enforce labor laws throughout the country.(38-41) Research found that financial constraints limited inspectors’ ability to adequately enforce labor laws.(38)

During the reporting period, some labor inspectors traveled to the African Regional Labor Administration Center for general training; however, most inspectors learned while on the job. In 2015, labor inspectors only conducted inspections in 10 of Burundi’s 18 provinces.(38)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2015, criminal law enforcement agencies in Burundi did not take actions to combat the worst forms of child labor (Table 7).

Table 7. Criminal Law Enforcement Efforts Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Overview of Criminal Law Enforcement

2014

2015

Training for Investigators

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown (7)

No (38)

Training on New Laws Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor

No (14)

No (38)

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown (7)

Yes (19)

Number of Investigations

0 (7)

0 (38)

Number of Violations Found

N/A

N/A

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

0 (7)

0 (38)

Number of Convictions

2 (17)

Unknown

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (4)

Yes (21)

 

In 2015, the National Police and the Brigade for the Protection of Women and Children did not have adequate resources to effectively enforce laws on the worst forms of child labor.(10) Although the Government enacted an anti-trafficking in persons law in 2014, law enforcement officials did not receive training on its implementation during the reporting period.(10)

Research found that suspects apprehended for the commercial sexual exploitation of children were released without prosecution, sometimes as a result of corruption among law enforcement officials.(10)

During the reporting period, law enforcement officials arrested and detained 58 children for involvement with armed groups.(21, 25) Although 7 of the children were released, 14 children were sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment; the remaining 37 children are awaiting trial.(25)

The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including all its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

National Multi-Sector Committee for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Coordinate efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor, including implementation of community development programs that address the education and socioeconomic reintegration of children engaged in or removed from the worst forms of child labor.(37, 42, 43) Composed of nine ministries and organizations, including the MFPTSS; the Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender (MSNDPHG); the Ministry of Elementary and Secondary Education; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Youth; and representatives from UNICEF, youth associations, and civil society organizations.(7)

Trafficking in Persons Permanent Commission

Oversee national anti-trafficking in persons efforts, including implementation of the National Action Plan for Combating Trafficking in Persons.(17, 44) Composed of officials from the MSNDPHG and the Ministries of Justice, Public Security, Foreign Affairs, and Interior.(7)

National Independent Commission for Human Rights

Defend and promote human rights, including efforts against child trafficking and exploitation. Develop an annual report on human rights in Burundi, and report on more specific issues, including the rights of women and children.(6) The Commission is an independent state institution composed of seven members who are elected by the National Assembly and appointed by Presidential decree for a 4-year term.(6) In 2015, the Commission removed seven children under age 15 from detention facilities following their arrest by the Burundian army.(21, 38)

MSNDPHG’s Department of the Child and Family

Coordinate, monitor, and oversee children’s advocacy and family service programs conducted by public and private organizations. Develop policies and national laws on the promotion and protection of children and families.(45) Child Protection Committees, established at the local level, refer cases to police officers and judicial officials for enforcement; victims are referred to local NGOs for social services.(21)

 

In 2015, the National Multi-Sector Committee for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and the Trafficking in Persons Permanent Commission were not operational.(19, 21)

The Government of Burundi has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 9).

Table 9. Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Action Plan for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2010–2015)

Aimed to eliminate all of the worst forms of child labor by 2015 and contribute to the elimination of all forms of child labor by 2025.(43)

National Action Plan for Combatting Trafficking in Persons (2014–2017)

Aims to significantly reduce human trafficking in Burundi by 2017 through the adoption of political, social, economic, and institutional measures.(44) Identifies women and children as being the most vulnerable to human trafficking. Lists a number of sectors in which trafficking is believed to exist and attempts to describe the profile of a human trafficker.(14, 44)

National Strategy for Street Children

Plans to prevent children from entering the street, reduce the number of street children, and reintegrate 60 percent of street children into their communities and families by 2016.(46)

PRSP*

Details a 5-year strategy to reduce poverty, increase economic growth and development, and strengthen government institutions, including schools.(13, 20, 37)

UNDAF (2012–2016)

Plans to develop a database for information on the worst forms of child labor, and legislation and regulations for the education and training of children and adolescents.(47)

* Child labor elimination and prevention strategies do not appear to have been integrated into this policy.

During the reporting period, the Government did not implement the National Action Plan for Combatting Trafficking in Persons.(19)

In 2015, the Government of Burundi funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 10).

Table 10. Social Programs to Address Child Labor

Program

Description

Decent Work Country Program (2012–2015)

Government program that aimed to reinforce the capacity of the National Multi-Sector Committee for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor though advocacy and mobilization of necessary resources.(48)

Centers for Family Development†

MSNDPHG-operated centers that address human rights issues, including child exploitation, and reintegrate victims to their home communities.(10, 21) Coordinate with Child Protection Committees to refer victims to local NGOs for care, when necessary.(21) In 2015, the Government provided community awareness on the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Law. In addition, a group of child journalists received training on human trafficking.(19)

† Program is funded by the Government of Burundi.

Research found no evidence that the Government has carried out programs to assist children in agriculture or industry. Additionally, the scope of existing programs is insufficient to fully address the extent of the child labor problem.

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Burundi (Table 11).

Table 11. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including its Worst Forms

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Criminally prohibit the use of children in illicit activities, particularly in the production and trafficking of drugs.

2015

Establish by law a compulsory education age equal to or higher than the minimum age for work.

2009 – 2015

Ensure that all children are protected by law, including children working outside of formal employment relationships.

2015

Ensure that the law protects children under age 18 from all forms of commercial sexual exploitation, including the distribution and possession of child pornography.

2014 – 2015

Ensure that laws criminalize the use of children under age 18 in armed conflict.

2012 – 2015

Enforcement

Make information publicly available regarding the Labor Inspectorate’s funding, the type of labor inspections conducted, the number of violations found, and the number of convictions achieved.

2013 – 2015

Increase the number of labor inspectors to provide adequate coverage of the workforce, and provide adequate training and resources to all inspectors to ensure that labor inspections, including unannounced inspections, are conducted nationwide.

2009 – 2015

Establish a mechanism for filing child labor complaints.

2009 – 2015

Establish a referral mechanism between labor authorities and social service providers.

2009 – 2015

Increase the number of investigators charged with enforcing criminal laws on the worst forms of child labor, and provide adequate training and resources to ensure that criminal investigations and prosecutions take place.

2009 – 2015

Cease the detention and prosecution of children forced into armed conflict. Ensure that children are demobilized and receive protective services.

2015

Coordination

Ensure that the National Multi-Sector Committee for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and the Trafficking in Persons Permanent Commission make efforts to combat and prevent child labor, including its worst forms.

2015

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into the PRSP.

2012 – 2015

Take steps to implement the National Action Plan for Combatting Trafficking in Persons.

2015

Social Programs

Adopt social programs that address the barriers children face in accessing free public schooling, such as obtaining birth registration and paying for books and uniforms.

2015

Institute and expand existing programs to address child labor, including in agriculture and industry.

2009 – 2015

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12.       UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Demographic and Health Survey, 2010-2011. Analysis received December 18, 2015. 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.

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