Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guinea-Bissau

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Guinea-Bissau

2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2015, Guinea-Bissau made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government began investigating a potential case of child trafficking and eliminated school registration fees. However, children in Guinea-Bissau are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture, and in the worst forms of child labor, including in forced begging. The Government has not determined the types of hazardous work prohibited for children. Law enforcement officials do not receive the appropriate training and resources to effectively conduct inspections or investigate and prosecute cases of child labor. In addition, the Government did not make any efforts to implement the National Action Plan on Trafficking.

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Children in Guinea-Bissau are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture. Children are also engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in forced begging.(1-6) Research did not find information on whether the full results of the national child labor survey conducted by the Ministry of Civil Service and Labor have been published.(7) However, in February 2015, the Government announced the survey had revealed that 39 percent of children ages 5 to 17 are engaged in child labor; with a high prevalence of child labor in the Cacheu region in the north.(8) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Guinea-Bissau.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

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

47.3 (219,734)

School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):

56.9

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

34.6

Primary completion rate (%):

62.2

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2010, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(9)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis of statistics from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 3, 2006.(10)

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

Farming, including the production of cashews* (1, 4, 6, 11)

Fishing,* activities unknown (1, 2)

Industry

Mining* (1)

Services

Domestic work* (2, 6)

Street work, including car washing and shoe shining* (2)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking*(3, 6)

Forced labor in domestic and street work, including begging, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (5, 6)

* Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.

In Guinea-Bissau, organized networks of former male trafficking victims affiliated with Koranic schools traffic boys to Guinea, Mali, and Senegal, where they are forced to beg for money.(2, 5) Boys are also forced to beg in Guinea-Bissau.(5) It is tradition for parents to send their children to be educated by Koranic teachers, called marabouts. Although many teachers carry out the intended tradition of providing religious education, some instead force the students, known as talibés, to beg on the streets for money and food, and to then surrender their earnings to their teachers.(2) Teachers who force talibés to beg typically set a daily quota; if the students do not meet the quota, they may be beaten. Most talibés originate from the predominantly Muslim areas of Bafatá and Gabú in the east of the country.(2) Research found that politicians in Guinea-Bissau do not confront Koranic teachers for trafficking boys because of the teachers’ influence on the Muslim electorate.(12)

Boys are forced to work in street vending in Guinea-Bissau; they are trafficked for forced labor in agriculture, mining, and street vending in Senegal, particularly in the southern cities of Kolda and Ziguinchor.(5, 12) Girls are subjected to forced labor in street vending and domestic work in Guinea and Senegal. Some girls may also be subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in these countries.(5) Research found limited evidence that European tourists traffic boys and girls for sexual exploitation on islands in the Bijagos Archipelago.(7)

Although the Government eliminated school registration fees for the 2014–2015 school year, hidden fees may still exist.(13, 14) Lack of birth registration can result in denial of education; however, authorities generally waive the birth certificate requirement for primary school enrollment.(6) Some children left school to work with their families in the 3-to-4-months long annual cashew harvest.(6, 15, 16)

In October 2015, a new Government was established, overthrowing the one elected in 2014; this may impact the Government’s ability to address the worst forms of child labor.(17)

Guinea-Bissau 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

14

Article 146 of the General Labor Law (18)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 148 of the General Labor Law (18)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

No

 

 

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Articles 2, 4, and 15 of the Law to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking; Article 106 of the Penal Code; Child Code (19, 20)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Articles 2, 4, and 15 of the Law to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking; Child Code (5, 20)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Articles 3–5 of the Law to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking; Articles 134 and 136 of the Penal Code (19, 20)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Articles 3 and 7 of the Decree on Narcotic Substances (21)

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

Yes

18

Law No. 3/80 and Decree No. 20/83 (22)

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

Yes

17

Article 31 of Law No. 4/99 (23)

 

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

15

Articles 12 and 13 of the Education System Law (24)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 12(2) of the Education System Law (24)

 

The law’s minimum age protections do not apply to children who are self-employed and children in domestic work.(18, 25)

The General Labor Law prohibits children under age 18 from conducting heavy work, work in unhealthy or dangerous conditions, and underground work; it also states that complementary legislation will further specify prohibited occupations or activities.(18) However, the Government has not determined by national law or regulation the types of hazardous work prohibited for children.

Laws regarding the commercial sexual exploitation of children are not sufficient, as the possession and distribution of child pornography are not criminally prohibited.(19, 20)

The Education System Law states that basic education is compulsory and lasts 9 years; however, it only makes basic education free through grade six.(24) The Government’s failure to provide for complete, free, basic education may increase the risk of children becoming involved in the worst forms of child labor.

Research did not uncover a public version of the Child Code, Law No. 3/80, Decree No. 20/83, and Law No. 4/99 for review.

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

Inspectorate General of Labor and Social Security

Monitor compliance with the provisions of the labor law, including child labor.(22)

Ministry of Interior’s Public Order Police and National Guard; Ministry of Justice’s Judicial Police

Conduct child labor prevention and enforcement, including preventing human traffickers from entering or exiting the country with children.(2, 4, 26)

Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Civil Service and Labor

Enforce child labor legislation in collaboration with the National Institute for Women and Children (INMC).(2)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2015, labor law enforcement agencies in Guinea-Bissau did not take 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 (11)

Unknown (17)

Number of Labor Inspectors

Unknown (11)

16 (17)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Unknown

Unknown

Training for Labor Inspectors

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown

No (17)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Unknown

N/A (17)

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown

No (17)

Number of Labor Inspections

Unknown (11)

Unknown

Number Conducted at Worksite

Unknown

Unknown

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

0 (11)

0 (17)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

N/A

N/A

Number of Penalties Imposed That Were Collected

N/A

N/A

Routine Inspections Conducted

Unknown (11)

Unknown

Routine Inspections Targeted

Unknown (11)

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Unknown

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Complaint Mechanism Exists

Unknown

Unknown

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Unknown (4)

Unknown

 

In 2015, the Government reported that the number of labor inspectors employed was insufficient. The Government also did not have the necessary resources to conduct proper labor inspections.(17)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2015, criminal law enforcement agencies in Guinea-Bissau took 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

No (17)

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

N/A

N/A (17)

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown

No (17)

Number of Investigations

Unknown (11)

1 (5)

Number of Violations Found

Unknown

Unknown (17)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

Unknown (11)

0 (17)

Number of Convictions

Unknown (11)

0 (17)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Unknown (4)

Unknown

 

During the reporting period, the National Guard intercepted 22 children at the Senegalese border.(16, 27) Research did not find information on whether the children were referred to social service providers. In March 2015, the Judicial Police began investigating a potential case of child trafficking for labor exploitation.(5)

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

Table 8. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

The Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Trafficking

Coordinate government efforts to combat human trafficking. Led by INMC and includes representatives from various NGOs and from the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Health, Education, and Transportation.(26) Did not meet in 2015.(27)

National Institute for Women and Children (INMC)

Coordinate and monitor NGOs and activities of other rehabilitation partners to defend and protect children.(2)

Ministry of Civil Service and Labor

Implement and coordinate actions to combat child labor in Guinea-Bissau.(3)

 

The Government of Guinea-Bissau 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 on Trafficking

Aims to guide implementation of the Law to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking.(5)

UNDAF (2013–2017)

Strengthens the Government’s capacity to ensure respect, promotion, and protection of social rights. Aims to assist in the implementation of a national action plan against child labor within the framework of the Decent Work Country Program.(28)

EFA Action Plan (2000–2015)*

Facilitated interagency coordination to ensure universal access to free and compulsory education.(3, 29)

Political Letter for Educational Sector (2010–2020)*

Outlines actions to be developed for preschool, primary, and secondary school; technical and professional training; and university studies.(3)

National Strategy for Social Protection of Children

Guides the Government and national and international partners so they can adequately focus on providing social protection for vulnerable children, including orphans; HIV-positive children; working children; and children who have been exploited or trafficked for financial gain.(3)

National Action Plan for Birth Registration*

Provides free birth registration to children.(13) The Ministry of Justice partners with civil society organizations implement mobile birth registration units in rural and urban areas.(30)

National Strategy for Poverty Reduction (2011–2015)

Sought to reduce poverty from 69.3 percent in 2010 to 59 percent by 2015, and extreme poverty from 33 percent in 2010 to 20 percent by 2015, by improving access to basic services and generating income and employment opportunities. Strengthened government coordination and mechanisms to protect at-risk children, including those engaged in child labor.(31)

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

The Government did not implement the National Action Plan on Trafficking during the reporting period.(5, 7)

In 2015, the Government of Guinea-Bissau 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

UNICEF Country Program

UNICEF-funded program in collaboration with the Government to prevent and combat child trafficking in the most disadvantaged communities through social safety nets, education, and other social protection mechanisms.(30)

Decent Work Country Program (2012–2015)

Targets the expansion of the social protection system, particularly for women in the informal economy and child victims of the worst forms of child labor. Specific objectives include adopting a national action plan against child labor and publishing results from the national survey on child labor.(15)

Friends of the Child (Amigos da Criança) Transit Shelters†

Government and donor-funded program implemented by an NGO that provides social services to victims of human trafficking through two shelters.(5, 16) Received approximately $9,280 from the Government in 2015; however, facilities lacked the financial and human resources needed to adequately assist victims.(5)

School Lunch Program

Government, WFP, and U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded program implemented by International Partnership for Human Development that provides school lunches to more than 200,000 children.(11)

† Program is funded by the Government of Guinea-Bissau.

Although Guinea-Bissau has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to fully address the extent of the problem.

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

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

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Ensure that all children are protected by law, including children who are self-employed and in domestic work.

2015

Determine the types of hazardous work prohibited for children, in consultation with employers’ and workers' organizations.

2009 – 2015

Ensure that the legal framework provides penalties for possessing and distributing child pornography.

2013 – 2015

Ensure that all 9 years of basic education are free.

2015

Make publicly available the Child Code, Law No. 3/80, Decree No. 20/83, and Law No. 4/99.

2014 – 2015

Enforcement

Make law enforcement data publicly available, including information on the labor inspectorate’s funding; the inspectorate’s ability to assess penalties; number and type of labor inspections conducted, and complaint mechanism; as well as the number of violations found during criminal investigations; and referral mechanisms between labor and law enforcement agencies and social service providers.

2009 – 2015

Ensure that a sufficient number of law enforcement officials receive proper training and resources in order to inspect, investigate, and prosecute cases of child labor.

2009 – 2015

 

Coordination

Ensure that the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Trafficking meets regularly in order to coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking.

2014 – 2015

Government Policies

Increase free birth registration for all children to encourage higher primary and secondary school enrollment.

2014 – 2015

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into existing policies.

2013 – 2015

Ensure implementation of the National Action Plan on Trafficking.

2014 – 2015

Social Programs

Publish the complete results of the national child labor survey.

2013 – 2015

Develop social programs to ensure that informal fees do not hinder access to education.

2011 – 2015

Increase funding for transit shelters to ensure that facilities have adequate resources to assist child trafficking victims.

2015

Expand existing programs to address the scope of the child labor problem.

2009 – 2015

 

1.         Agencia Fides. "Guiné-Bissau: Continuam a se difundir as piores formas de trabalho infantil." gloobal.net [online] October 13, 2011 [cited February 20, 2013]; http://www.gloobal.net/iepala/gloobal/fichas/ficha.php?id=15672&entidad=....

2.         U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, February 25, 2014.

3.         ILO-IPEC. Guine-Bissau: Estudo sobre a aplicação das Convenções n.° 138 e n.° 182 da OIT e suas recomendações na legislação nacional dos países da CPLP. Geneva; December 2012. http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=23179.

4.         U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, February 6, 2015.

5.         U.S. Department of State. "Guinea-Bissau," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2015. Washington, DC; July 27, 2015; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/245365.pdf.

6.         U.S. Department of State. "Guinea-Bissau," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2014. Washington, DC; June 25, 2015; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=20....

7.         U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, April 18, 2016.

8.         Sapo 24. "Trabalho infantil e juvenil afeta 39% das crianças da Guiné-Bissau -- INE." 24.sapo.pt [online] February 11, 2015 [cited December 18, 2015]; http://24.sapo.pt/noticias/internacional/artigo/trabalho-infantil-e-juve....

9.         UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed December 16, 2015]; http://data.uis.unesco.org/. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. This ratio is the total number of new entrants in the last grade of primary education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the population at the theoretical entrance age to the last grade of primary. A high ratio indicates a high degree of current primary education completion. Because the calculation includes all new entrants to last grade (regardless of age), the ratio can exceed 100 percent, due to over-aged and under-aged children who enter primary school late/early and/or repeat grades. For more information, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” section of this report.

10.       UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 3, 2006. 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.

11.       U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, January 16, 2015.

12.       U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, March 6, 2014.

13.       Child Rights Connect. State Party Examination of Guinea-Bissau's third and fourth Periodic Reports; June 7, 2013. http://www.childrightsconnect.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Guinea-Biss....

14.       UN Human Rights Council. Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Guinea-Bissau; April 13, 2015. Report No. A/HRC/29/12. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session29/Documents....

15.       ILO. Programme pays pour un travail décent en Guinée Bissau: 2012-2015. Geneva; October 2011. http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/dwcp/countries/index.htm 

16.       U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, February 26, 2016.

17.       U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, January 22, 2016.

18.       Government of Guinea-Bissau. Lei Geral do Trabalho, enacted April 25, 1986. http://www.africanchildforum.org/clr/Legislation%20Per%20Country/guinea%....

19.       Government of Guinea-Bissau. Decreto Lei no. 4/93: Código Penal, No. 4/93, enacted October 13, 1993. http://www.africanchildforum.org/clr/Legislation%20Per%20Country/guinea%....

20.       Government of Guinea-Bissau. Lei da prevenção e combate ao tráfico de pessoas, em particular mulheres e crianças, No. 12, enacted July 6, 2011. https://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/95018/111703/F216767232/G....

21.       Government of Guinea-Bissau. Legislação relativa a estupefacientes, Decreto-Lei nº 2-B/93, enacted October 28, 1993.

22.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Guinea-Bissau (ratification: 2008) Published: 2013; accessed February 7, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMM....

23.       UN Treaty Collection. Ratification 11.b Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict; accessed October 29, 2014; https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11....

24.       Government of Guinea-Bissau. Lei de Bases do Sistema Educativo, enacted 2011.

25.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning the Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Guinea-Bissau (ratification: 2009) Published: 2013; accessed December 17, 2015; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMM....

26.       U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, February 23, 2012.

27.       U.S. Embassy- Dakar. reporting, January 21, 2016.

28.       UNDAF. Plan Cadre des Nations Unies pour l’Aide au Développement (UNDAF) 2013-2017; 2012. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Guinea-Bissau/Guinee_Bissau_UND....

29.       Ministry of Education. Plano Nacional de Acção Educação para Todos. Dakar; February 2003. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Guinea-Bissau/Guinea%20Bissau%2....

30.       UNICEF. UNICEF Annual Report 2013 - Guinea Bissau. Geneva; 2013. http://www.unicef.org/about/annualreport/index_73646.html

31.       International Monetary Fund. Guiné-Bissau: Segundo Documento de Estratégia Nacional de Redução da Pobreza da Guiné-Bissau. Washington, DC; December 2011. Report No. 11/353. http://www.imf.org/external/lang/Portuguese/pubs/ft/scr/2011/cr11353p.pdf.

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