2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Europe & Eurasia

2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

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Regional statistics on child labor do not exist for Europe and Eurasia. However, some governments made efforts to increase the availability of information on the nature and prevalence of child labor at a national level. In 2014, governments throughout the region worked to improve legal and policy frameworks related to child labor, build the capacity of labor inspectors and law enforcement officials, and expand inclusive education.

During the year, several countries enhanced their legal frameworks to better protect children from involvement in child labor. Moldova adopted an improved list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children; Kosovo issued a decision to obligate personnel in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Development to engage actively in the elimination of hazardous child labor in the agricultural sector; and Macedonia amended its Family Law to allow social workers to take steps to remove children from parents who are exploiting them as beggars. In an effort to improve service provision to victims of human trafficking, the Governments of Albania, Montenegro, and Armenia all enacted laws that increase victims’ access to social services, such as health care and education. The Government of Georgia adopted new amendments to the country’s existing anti-trafficking laws that aim to increase the number of successful prosecutions of human trafficking cases. In Ukraine, where recent conflict has resulted in more than 460,000 internally displaced persons, more than one third of whom are children, the Government passed a law instituting a system to register and provide benefits to displaced families.

Similarly, governments in the region launched policies to protect children from human trafficking and other worst forms of child labor. Albania, Azerbaijan, and Moldova each adopted new national action plans to combat trafficking in persons, while Bosnia and Herzegovina collaborated with USAID to improve implementation of its existing plan. Other governments launched policies to address the needs of at-risk populations of children who are particularly vulnerable to engagement in child labor. For instance, both Serbia and Montenegro adopted action plans that include the goal of reducing discrimination against Roma minorities and promoting their status in society.

Recognizing the need to strengthen implementation of existing laws, many governments in Europe and Eurasia prioritized capacity building for labor inspectors and law enforcement officials in 2014. In both Albania and Montenegro, labor inspectors received instructions on proactive techniques for identifying child victims of forced labor and human trafficking; while in Turkey, the Government ensured that new labor inspectors received on-the-job training on child labor laws and how to enforce them. The governments of Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Serbia, and Turkey provided law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges with instructions on a variety of topics, including general training on the prevention and combating of human trafficking, best practices in the investigation and prosecution of traffickingin- persons cases, and victim protection procedures.

Nearly all governments in the Europe and Eurasia region provide free and compulsory basic education for all children. In 2014, Moldova enacted a new Education Code, which increases the age for compulsory education from 16 to 18 years of age, thereby exceeding international standards. The Government also made a decision to ban children from working in agriculture during the school year. In Armenia, the Government took steps to ensure access to quality, inclusive education, especially for children with disabilities, by passing an amendment to the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Education. The Government of Kosovo issued a decision that directly recognizes the role of educational institutions in preventing and eliminating hazardous child labor by requiring schools to raise awareness about child labor issues and to actively identify and report potential cases of exploitative labor to the relevant authorities.

While countries in the region took important steps to address child labor issues, children in Europe and Eurasia continue to engage in child labor, predominantly in agriculture and street work, and in the worst forms of child labor in commercial sexual exploitation and forced begging, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking.

There are a number of challenges that impede the enforcement of child labor laws in Europe and Eurasia. The number of labor inspectors in Kosovo, Montenegro, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine is insufficient to provide adequate labor force coverage. Georgia has lacked a mechanism to enforce child labor laws since its labor inspectorate was abolished in 2006. Similarly, following the Government of Armenia’s decision to amend its Labor Code and restructure its labor inspectorate in 2014, the country lacks a mechanism to monitor and enforce child labor laws. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia do not have laws that clearly and comprehensively define the types of hazardous work prohibited for children, which limits the capacity of labor inspectors to identify and remove children from exploitative labor situations. In Azerbaijan, children without written labor contracts are excluded from protection under the labor law, and similarly, in Turkey, children working in small agricultural enterprises, shops, and in domestic work lack legal protection.

Across the region, children at risk of statelessness or those who belong to ethnic minority groups, such as the Roma, continued to experience challenges in accessing education. Roma children lacking birth registration or identity documents in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia were sometimes prevented from enrolling in schools. In Turkey, approximately 75 percent of school-aged Syrian refugees were not enrolled in schools, and in Russia, irregular migrants and asylum seekers were also sometimes denied access to education due to lack of documentation. Other common barriers to education in Europe and Eurasia include discrimination, language barriers, lack of support for children with disabilities, distance to schools, and prohibitive education-related costs. Children who do not attend school are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the worst forms of child labor.

Meaningful efforts:

  • Expanded efforts to train labor inspectors and criminal investigators on the enforcement of laws related to child labor.
  • Expanded access to education and increased recognition of the link between education and the prevention and elimination of exploitive child labor.

Challenges and existing gaps:

  • Weak legal frameworks in countries that do not specify the types of hazardous work prohibited for children.
  • Insufficient human and financial resources allocated to the enforcement of child labor laws.
  • Unequal access to education for minorities and other disadvantaged children.