Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Lesotho

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Lesotho

2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Moderate Advancement

In 2015, Lesotho made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. During the year, the Government created an implementation strategy for the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labor, published implementing regulations for the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2011, and established an Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force to collect data on human trafficking. However, children in Lesotho continue to engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in herding cattle and commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Lesotho law does not prohibit the use of children in illicit activities, and a gap between the compulsory education age and the minimum age for employment leaves children vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor. A lack of government resources for enforcement and social programs also remains a major challenge to combatting child labor in Lesotho.

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Children in Lesotho are engaged in the worst forms of child labor, including in herding cattle and commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking.(1-3) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Lesotho.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

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

28.1 (124,632)

School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):

80.7

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

25.3

Primary completion rate (%):

75.7

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2014, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(4)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis of statistics from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2, 2000.(5)

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

Herding animals, including cattle† (1, 6-9)

Farming, including planting,* applying pesticides,* and harvesting* (2, 10, 11)

Services

Domestic work (1, 8, 9, 12)

Street work,* including vending* (8)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation,* sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (6, 8, 13)

Use in illicit activities,* including burglary* and theft* (8)

* 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.

Lesotho’s HIV/AIDS rate in adults is 23.4 percent, the second highest rate in the world. Thirty-four percent of children in Lesotho are orphans, due to the high rate of HIV/AIDS among adults.(9, 10, 14-16) Children, mostly HIV/AIDS orphans driven by poverty, migrate from rural to urban areas to engage in commercial sexual exploitation for survival.(10, 13, 17) Some Basotho girls voluntarily migrate to South Africa for work in domestic service and later become victims of forced labor in prostitution.(3)

Lesotho 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

15

Article 124(1) of the Labour Code (1992) (18); Article 228(1) of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (19)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 125(1) of the Labour Code (18); Article 230(1) of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (19)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

Yes

 

Articles 230(3) and 231 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (19)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 9(2) of the Constitution; Article 7(1) of the Labour Code; Article 5 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (18, 20, 21)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Article 5 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (21)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Article 77 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (19); Articles 10–14 of the Sexual Offenses Act (22)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

No

 

 

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

N/A*

 

 

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

No

 

 

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

13‡

Article 3 of the Education Act (11, 23)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 3 of the Education Act (11, 23); Section 22(k) of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (19)

* No conscription (24)
‡ Age calculated based on available information

The Ministry of Employment and Labor reported that it would revise the Labour Code to incorporate the 2014 guidelines that mandated protection of herd boys and prohibited the use of children for hazardous work.(9) Although there are maximum penalties for violations of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act, the law does not set minimum penalties for employing underage children in night work, industrial undertakings, or hazardous work for first-time offenders.(19)

Although the Government of Lesotho does not have a law that specifies the minimum age for voluntary military service, the Lesotho Defense Force has a policy prohibiting the recruitment of children under age 18.(25, 26) Lesotho’s compulsory education age is through 13, which makes children at age 14 particularly vulnerable to child labor since they are not required to be in school and have not reached the minimum age for work.(9, 18) The ILO Committee of Experts urged the Government to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and Training to equate the compulsory education age and minimum age for work.(9, 27)

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

Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE)

Enforce child labor laws, including hazardous child labor, and as a part of general labor inspections assess compliance with child labor laws.(1)

National Police, Child and Gender Protection Unit (CGPU)

Investigate child labor violations and work in conjunction with MOLE to enforce child labor laws, including those related to hazardous and forced child labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and child trafficking.(1)

Public Prosecutor’s Office

Prosecute child labor law offenders.(1)

Children’s Court

Enforce criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor.(1)

 

In 2015, the Ministry of Labor and Employment reviewed the Labour Code with the aim of making revisions that would authorize labor inspectors to conduct child labor investigations in the informal sector on private farms and in homes.(9)

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2015, labor law enforcement agencies in Lesotho 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 (9)

Unknown (9)

Number of Labor Inspectors

38 (28)

38 (9)

Number of Child Labor Dedicated Inspectors

0 (9)

3 (9)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

No (9)

No (9)

Training for Labor Inspectors

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

Number of Labor Inspections

1,330 (9)

1,794 (9)

Number Conducted at Worksite

1,330 (9)

1,794 (9)

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

Unknown (9)

Unknown (9)

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

0 (9)

0 (9)

Number of Child Labor Violations for which Penalties were Imposed

0 (9)

0 (9)

Number of Penalties Imposed that were Collected

N/A (9)

N/A (9)

Routine Inspections Conducted

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

Routine Inspections Targeted

No (9)

No (9)

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (28)

Yes (9)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

No (9)

No (9)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

 

In 2015, funding for inspections was inadequate, and inspectors lacked adequate resources and vehicles to conduct labor investigations to identify and address child labor violations. No inspections were carried out in the informal sector.(9) In 2015, USDOL, in collaboration with the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, trained 35 labor inspectors and factory representatives on occupational safety and health requirements to ensure compliance with labor laws. (9)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2015, criminal law enforcement agencies in Lesotho 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

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

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

Yes (9)

No (9)

Refresher Courses Provided

No (9)

No (9)

Number of Investigations

0 (9)

0 (9)

Number of Violations Found

0 (9)

0 (9)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

0 (9)

0 (9)

Number of Convictions

0 (9)

0 (9)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (9)

Yes (9)

 

In 2015, the LMPS was responsible for the enforcement of criminal laws pertaining to child labor and employed 116 police officers to enforce laws nationwide.(3, 9, 29) The National Police, Child and Gender Protection Unit received funding from the general operations budget of the national police because it did not have its own funding pool.(1, 9) During the year, the Government of Lesotho published implementing regulations for the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2011, held cross-border awareness campaigns with South African officials on identifying and documenting potential trafficking victims, and created a new Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force.(30)

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

National Task Team

Implement the National Action Plan on the Elimination of Child Labor. Led by the MOLE’s Child Labor Unit, the team includes representatives from government ministries, trade unions, NGOs, and international organizations.(1, 17)

Multi-Sectoral Committee on Combating Trafficking in Persons

Spearhead anti-trafficking in persons initiatives and approve legislation and policies to prevent human trafficking. Chaired by the Commissioner of Refugees and also include government ministries; local government members; and representatives from NGOs, international organizations, and faith-based organizations.(31)

District Child Protection Teams

Coordinate child protection matters, including child labor, at the district level. Led by the Ministry of Social Development, it includes representatives from the Government, private sector, NGOs, and community support groups.(1)

 

The Government of Lesotho 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 the Elimination of Child Labor (APEC)

Ensures all major interventions regarding child labor are in place while preventing duplication of efforts. Constitutes a strategic program framework based on existing and planned interventions in relevant social and economic sectors, some linked to other program initiatives.(32) During the year, the Government adopted an implementation strategy for APEC.(9)

National Anti-Trafficking in Persons Strategic Framework and Action Plan

Supports the national and international obligations and commitments by strengthening approaches to protect children against the worst forms of child labor in support of the vision to “eradicate all forms of trafficking in persons in Lesotho, protect victims of trafficking in persons, arrest and successfully prosecute offenders and put in place preventative measures.”(32)

National Policy on Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Safeguards the rights of orphans and vulnerable children to an education, promotes access to apprenticeships and vocational and life skills of orphans and vulnerable children, and implements child labor prevention programs.(33)

Lesotho United Nations Development Assistance Framework (2013–2017)

Includes strategies to reduce poverty in Lesotho.(34) Promotes education for children, supports youth employment, and builds the Government’s capacity to provide social welfare services to vulnerable children.(34)

Lesotho: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper—National Strategic Development Plan (2012/2013–2016/2017)

Outlines prevention measures and identifies child protection services (CGPU/police, social welfare, health, and the justice system) and their capacity to respond adequately to cases of violence, abuse, and exploitation of children, including child labor.(35)

Education Sector Strategic Plan (2005–2015)*

Outlines strategies to improve access, equity, and quality of education, as well as to reduce school fees and provide school meals to vulnerable children.(36)

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

In 2015, the Government of Lesotho 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

Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues Project (2011–2017)

USDOL-funded project implemented by the ILO in approximately 40 countries to support the priorities of the Roadmap for Achieving the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor by 2016 and established by the Hague Global Child Labor Conference in 2010. Aims to improve the evidence base on child labor through data collection and research in Lesotho.(37)

Awareness-Raising Campaign on Human Trafficking

Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation program operated with support from an NGO. Facilitate public awareness raising on human trafficking and gender-based violence in rural communities.(6, 31) Translated the anti-trafficking law into local languages and distributed it at border posts.(31)

Awareness Raising for Herd Boys†

Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation program that conducted workshops for herd boys. Workshops provided information on trafficking issues, health, HIV/AIDS, and sexual reproductive health.(31)

ILO—Decent Work Country Program (2012–2017)

ILO-funded program supported by MOLE that includes objectives on creating youth employment as a poverty reduction strategy, establishing social protection coverage for citizens, and facilitating social dialogue among employers and workers.(10)

Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Scholarships Program†

Government program that pays for the tuition, uniforms, supplies, and boarding fees for OVCs.(1)

† Program is funded by the Government of Lesotho.

Although Lesotho 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, the following actions would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Lesotho (Table 11).

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

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Adopt laws to prohibit the use of children in illicit activities.

2009 – 2015

Establish minimum penalties for those who commit offenses under the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act.

2011 – 2015

Legally establish 15 as the age up to which education is compulsory, to match the minimum age for full-time work.

2010 – 2015

Enforcement

Provide adequate funding for labor inspectors and adequate funding and training for criminal investigators to address the worst forms of child labor.

2009 – 2015

Ensure that labor inspections are conducted in all relevant sectors allowed by law to facilitate enforcement of child labor laws.

2014 – 2015

Authorize the labor inspectorate to assess penalties to facilitate the enforcement of child labor laws.

2015

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into existing youth policies such as the Education Sector Strategic Plan.

2012 – 2015

Social Programs

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

2015

 

1.         U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, January 7, 2014.

2.         U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, January 28, 2011.

3.         U.S. Department of State. "Lesotho," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2015. Washington, DC; June 27, 2015; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2012/index.htm.

4.         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.

5.         UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2, 2000. 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.

6.         U.S. Department of State. "Lesotho," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2013. Washington, DC; February 27, 2014; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/220338.pdf.

7.         Kimane, I. "Protecting the Rights of Working Children in Lesotho through Legislation," in RECLISA Southern African Regional Child Labour Conference; July 4-6, 2006; Johannesburg; http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do;jsessionid=c411972d9cd9668ba02891eda757f441715b6ccdcd91b3d8cbaf313d8b8ab6a5.e3aTbhuLbNmSe3uKbi0?type=document&id=4210.

8.         U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, January 20, 2012.

9.         U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, January 15, 2016.

10.       Government of Lesotho & ILO. Lesotho Decent Work Country Programme- Phase II 2012 to 2017. Maseru; 2013. http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/dwcp/download/lesotho.pdf.

11.       U.S. Department of State official. Email communication to USDOL official. May 20, 2014.

12.       ILO-Committee of Experts. Direct Request (CEACR) - adopted 2013, published 103rd ILC session (2014) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) - Lesotho (Ratification: 2001); accessed http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3112797:NO.

13.       U. S. Department of State. "Lesotho," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2014. Washington, DC; June 20, 2014; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226847.pdf.

14.       United Nations. "UNAIDS Report in the Global AIDS Epidemic 2013." (2013); http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2013/gr2013/UNAIDS_Global_Report_2013_en.pdf.

15.       UNICEF. Eastern and Southern Africa Overview

2013. http://www.unicef.org/esaro/5482_HIV_AIDS.html.

16.       UNICEF. Lesotho- Country programme document 2013-2017

2012 March. http://www.unicef.org/about/execboard/files/Lesotho-2013-2017-final_appr....

17.       U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, February 5, 2013.

18.       Government of Lesotho. Labour Code Order. 24, enacted 1992. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/31536/64865/E92LSO01.htm.

19.       Government of Lesotho. Children's Protection and Welfare Act, enacted 2011. http://www.gov.ls/documents/default.php.

20.       Government of Lesotho. The Constitution of Lesotho enacted 1993. http://library2.parliament.go.th/giventake/content_cons/lesotho.pdf.

21.       Lesotho. Anti-Trafficking Act 2011, enacted January 11.

22.       Lesotho. Sexual Offenses Act 2003, enacted http://www.lesotholii.org/files/node/12528/lesotho_sexual_offences_act_2003_pdf_14292.pdf.

23.       Lesotho. Education Act No. 3 of 2010, enacted March 15. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Lesotho/Lesotho%20EDUCATION%20ACT%202010.pdf.

24.       Child Soldiers International. "Lesotho," in Louder than Words: An Agenda for Action to End State Use of Child Soldiers London; 2012; http://www.child-soldiers.org/global_report_reader.php?id=562.

25.       Lesotho Defense Force Commander. Memo: Prohibition of Child Labor in the Lesotho Defense Force, to U.S. Department of State official. May 9, 2013.

26.       U.S. Department of State official. Email communication to USDOL official. May 21, 2014.

27.       ILO Committee of Experts. Observation (CEACR) - adopted 2013, published 103rd ILC session (2014) Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) - Lesotho (Ratification: 2001); accessed March 31, 2014

28.       U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, January 20, 2015.

29.       U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, February 21, 2015.

30.       U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, November 13, 2015.

31.       U.S. Embassy- Maseru. reporting, February 14, 2014.

32.       U.S. Embassy- Maseru official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 15, 2015.

33.       Government of Lesotho. National Policy on Orphans and Vulnerable Children. Maseru, Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; 2007. http://www.africanchildforum.org/clr/policy%20per%20country/lesotho/lesotho_ovc_en.pdf.

34.       United Nations. Lesotho United Nations Development Assistance Plan (LUNDAP) 2013 –2017United Nations; 2013. http://www.undg.org/docs/13056/Lesotho---UNDAP-2013-2017-unsgn-EN.pdf.

35.       Government of Lesotho. National Strategic Development Plan, 2012/13-2016/17. Maseru; May 2012. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Lesotho/Lesotho_National_Strategic_Development_Plan_2012_2017.pdf.

36.       Government of Lesotho. Education Sector Strategic Plan 2005 to 2015. Maseru; March 2005. [Source on file].

37.       ILO-IPEC. Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues. Technical Project Summary. Geneva; April 2013.