2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor
- Adopted laws prohibiting the worst forms of child labor.
- Trained law enforcement personnel to combat child labor, including its worst forms.
- Conducted and published research on child labor, including national child labor surveys.
Challenges and Existing Gaps
- Countries lacked fully functioning labor inspectorates.
- Prohibitions on the use of children in illicit activities, including for the production and trafficking of drugs, are insufficient.
- Minorities and other disadvantaged children face barriers to accessing education.
Regional statistics on child labor for Europe and Eurasia are available for the first time. Figure 6 provides an overview of the regional outlook. In 2016, 5.5 million children ages 5 to 17, or 4.1 percent of all children in the region, are engaged in child labor.(1) Children in this region perform dangerous tasks in agriculture and street work. Children also engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation and forced begging, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking. In 2016, only 2 of the 18 countries covered in this report received an assessment of Significant Advancement: Albania and Kosovo. However, countries in Europe and Eurasia did make meaningful efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, including by adopting laws that prohibit the worst forms of child labor; training law enforcement personnel to combat child labor, including its worst forms; and conducting and publishing research on child labor. Despite these gains, countries in the region need to undertake additional efforts to prevent and eliminate child labor, including by establishing fully functioning labor inspectorates; ensuring that the use of children for illicit activities, including for the production and trafficking of drugs, is prohibited; and eliminating barriers to education for minorities and other disadvantaged children.
In 2016, three countries made meaningful efforts, but failed to remedy a regressive or significantly detrimental law that was established in previous years that delayed advancement in eliminating the worst forms of child labor: Armenia lacked a functioning labor inspectorate to enforce child labor laws due to a continued moratorium on inspections, and Georgia lacked a functioning labor inspectorate to enforce child labor laws since its labor inspectorate was abolished in 2006. Ukraine also failed to fully lift bureaucratic restrictions on the State Labor Service’s ability to conduct inspections, including for child labor, and Azerbaijan made meaningful efforts, but introduced a regressive practice during the reporting period that imposed a moratorium on all labor inspections not initiated by a formal complaint, which effectively curtailed labor inspections in 2016.
In 2016, several countries adopted laws prohibiting the worst forms of child labor. Moldova passed a law increasing penalties for involving children in the worst forms of child labor, including for forced labor, illicit activities, and the production of pornography. Ukraine amended the Law on the Protection of Childhood to establish a criminal penalty for the use of children in armed conflict, and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina criminalized all forms of human trafficking, including child trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation, within its jurisdiction. Armenia also passed legislation that requires the Government to provide financial restitution to victims of human trafficking, including child trafficking victims.
Countries in the region also improved their capacity to enforce laws related to child labor, including its worst forms. For example, both Kosovo and Albania increased funding to their labor inspectorates; Azerbaijan provided all labor inspectors with training on international conventions and national legislation regarding child labor; and labor inspectors in Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina received training on identifying victims of human trafficking, including children. In Turkey, local law enforcement established and trained 33 units to combat crimes against woman and children, including child trafficking. Kosovo also provided criminal investigators with training on legislation related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children and the use of children in the production of pornography. In addition, 6 of the 18 countries in the region–Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Ukraine–trained criminal investigators and other law enforcement personnel on enforcing laws against human trafficking.
During the year, European and Eurasian countries conducted and published research on child labor. Azerbaijan conducted sectoral research on child labor in high-risk sectors of the service industry, and Armenia and Georgia published national child labor surveys. The Government of Moldova also committed to strengthening statistics on child labor through the adoption of a Decent Work Country Program. In addition, countries funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms. Turkey provided social services and enrolled approximately 300,000 Syrian refugee children in school, many of whom were involved in child labor in Turkey. Kosovo and Serbia took steps to improve the inclusion of vulnerable populations, including Roma children, in the education system. Macedonia also nearly doubled funding for programs dedicated to combating human trafficking, including child trafficking, and Albania increased the amount of cash transfers its social assistance program provides to vulnerable families by 25 percent.
However, there are a number of challenges that impede progress in addressing child labor in the region. Six countries, including Anguilla; the British Virgin Islands; Kosovo; Montserrat; Falkland Islands; and Saint Helena, Ascensión, and Tristán da Cunha lack sufficient prohibitions on the use of children in illicit activities, including for the production and trafficking of drugs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the British Virgin Islands, and Georgia do not have comprehensive hazardous work prohibitions, which limits the capacity of labor inspectors to identify and remove children from dangerous labor situations. In Azerbaijan, children without written labor contracts are excluded from protection by the Labor Code, and similarly, Turkey lacks legal protections for children working in small agricultural enterprises.
Gaps in labor law enforcement remain in the region. The number of labor inspectors in Armenia, Turkey, and Ukraine is insufficient for the size of the workforce according to the ILO’s recommendation. Labor inspectorates in Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine also lack funding for training, equipment, and/ or transportation for inspectors, which compromises the quality of inspections.
Across the region, refugee and migrant children, children who have been internally displaced, and children who belong to ethnic minority groups, such as the Roma, continued to experience challenges in accessing education. Despite Turkey’s significant efforts to expand access to education for school-aged Syrian refugees, many refugee children living in urban areas remained unable to access education due to language barriers or an inability to pay for tuition and transportation to school. Migrant children, many of whom are Syrian, also faced difficulties enrolling in schools in Serbia. Other common barriers to education in Europe and Eurasia include discrimination, lack of support for Roma children and children with disabilities, and distance to schools. Out-of-school children are particularly vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.
1. International Labor Organization. Global estimation of child labour 2016: Main results and methodology. Geneva, September 2017.