Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Papua New Guinea

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Papua New Guinea

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2017, Papua New Guinea made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The government adopted the National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labor. However, children in Papua New Guinea engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also perform dangerous tasks in mining. Laws do not specifically define the hazardous occupations and activities prohibited for children. Inadequate resources hamper the Labor Inspectorate’s capacity to enforce child labor laws. In addition, Papua New Guinea lacks a compulsory age for education, and some children face challenges accessing school, which increases the risk of children’s involvement in the worst forms of child labor.

Expand All

Children in Papua New Guinea engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. (1; 2) Children also perform dangerous tasks in mining. (3) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Papua New Guinea. Data on some of these indicators are not available from the sources used in this report.

 

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

Children

Age

Percent

Working (% and population)

5 to 14

Unavailable

Attending School (%)

5 to 14

Unavailable

Combining Work and School (%)

7 to 14

Unavailable

Primary Completion Rate (%)

 

77.4

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2012, UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2018. (4)
Data were unavailable from Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis, 2018. (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

Working on tea, coffee, and palm oil plantations (6)

Industry

Mining (3)

Services

Domestic work (1; 6)

Street work, including scavenging for recyclables and begging (7; 3)

Work in markets, including unloading and carrying heavy bags of food (8; 2)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation, including working in bars, nightclubs, and brothels, and use in the production of pornography, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1; 2)

Forced domestic work (1; 2)

Illicit activities (3; 9)

‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.

 

In Papua New Guinea, children are exploited in commercial sex. (1; 10) Some children from rural areas are sent to live with relatives or “host” families in cities, where they may be forced to perform domestic work to pay off family debts. (1; 3; 2)

Research found the threat of gender-based violence prevents many girls from attending school. (11) Although the government has established a free education policy, in practice many schools charge fees for books, uniforms, and other supplies. (12; 13; 14; 15; 16) These barriers to education make affected children vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.

Papua New Guinea has ratified some 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 (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Papua New Guinea’s legal framework to adequately protect children from child labor, including the identification of hazardous occupations or activities prohibited for children and the prohibition of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

 

Table 4. Laws and Regulations on Child Labor

Standard

Meets International Standards: Yes/No

Age

Legislation

Minimum Age for Work

Yes

16

Article 103 of the Employment Act (17)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 54 of the Lukautim Pikinini Act (12)

Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children

No

 

 

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 43 of the Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea; Section 208 of the Criminal Code (18; 19)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Section 208 of the Criminal Code (19)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

No

 

Articles 229J–229O and 229R–229T of the Criminal Code (20)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

No

 

 

Prohibition of Military Recruitment

 

 

 

State Compulsory

N/A*

 

 

State Voluntary

Yes

16

Section 30 of the Defence Act (21)

Non-state

No

 

 

Compulsory Education Age

No

 

 

Free Public Education

No

 

 

* No conscription (22)

 

Papua New Guinea has not determined by national law or regulation the types of hazardous work prohibited for children. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) has been developing a hazardous work list for several years, but it did not submit the list to the cabinet for endorsement during the reporting period. (23; 24; 25; 3)

According to the Employment Act, children ages 11 to 16 may be allowed to work under certain conditions. The minimum age of 11 for light work is not in compliance with international standards, and the law does not specify the types of activities in which light work is permitted nor the number of hours per week that this work may be undertaken. (17; 26) Papua New Guinea also does not have laws that prohibit using, procuring, or offering a child for illicit activities, including for the production and trafficking of drugs. (27) The law does not sufficiently protect children from commercial sexual exploitation, as using, procuring, and offering a child for pornographic performances is not criminally prohibited. (20) In addition, the recruitment of children by non-state armed groups is not prohibited.

There is no age up to which education is compulsory in Papua New Guinea, which increases the risk of children’s involvement in child labor. Although free education is not mandated by law, there is a policy that sufficiently provides for free basic education. (28; 15; 26)

The government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor (Table 5). However, gaps exist within the operations of the DLIR that may hinder adequate enforcement of their child labor laws.

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR)

Implement and enforce child labor laws. (29)

Department of Community Development, Religion and Sports

Enforce the Lukautim Pikinini Act, including provisions on child labor and its worst forms. (29)

Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary

Enforce laws against commercial sexual exploitation of children and the use of children in illicit activities. (29)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2017, labor law enforcement agencies in Papua New Guinea took actions to combat child labor (Table 6). However, gaps exist within the operations of the DLIR that may hinder adequate enforcement of their child labor laws, including human resource allocation.

Table 6. Labor Law Enforcement Efforts Related to Child Labor

Overview of Labor Law Enforcement

2016

2017

Labor Inspectorate Funding

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Number of Labor Inspectors

Unknown (24)

43 (3)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Yes (29)

Yes (3)

Training for Labor Inspectors

 

 

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown (24)

No (3)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

N/A

N/A

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Number of Labor Inspections Conducted

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Number Conducted at Worksites

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties were Imposed

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Number of Child Labor Penalties Imposed that were Collected

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Routine Inspections Conducted

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Routine Inspections Targeted

Unknown (24)

Unknown (3)

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (6)

Yes (3)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Unknown (24)

Yes (3)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

No (24)

Yes (3)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

No (24)

No (24)

 

Labor inspectors sometimes carry out routine inspections in hazardous workplaces or in the manufacturing sector; however, due to limited capacity, labor inspectors generally respond to specific child labor complaints only. (6; 28; 30) Inadequate resources hamper the Labor Inspectorate’s capacity to enforce child labor laws. (3; 31) The number of labor inspectors is likely insufficient for the size of Papua New Guinea’s workforce, which includes approximately 3.68 million workers. According to the ILO’s technical advice of a ratio approaching 1 inspector for every 15,000 workers in developing economies, Papua New Guinea should employ about 245 labor inspectors. (32; 33)

Criminal Law Enforcement

Research did not find information on whether criminal law enforcement agencies in Papua New Guinea took actions to combat child labor. (Table 7).

Table 7. Criminal Law Enforcement Efforts Related to Child Labor

Overview of Criminal Law Enforcement

2016

2017

Training for Investigators

   

Initial Training for New Employees

No (30)

Unknown (3)

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

N/A

Unknown (3)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (34)

Unknown (3)

Number of Investigations

2 (30)

Unknown (3)

Number of Violations Found

4 (30)

Unknown (3)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

2 (30)

Unknown (3)

Number of Convictions

0 (30)

Unknown (3)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (34; 35)

Unknown (3)

 

In 2017, the government did not release labor and criminal statistics related to child labor.

The government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor (Table 8).

Table 8. Key Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role and Description

National Human Trafficking Committee

Coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking. Chaired by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, with representatives from more than 15 government agencies, NGOs, and international organizations. (36; 37)

The government has established policies related to child labor (Table 9). However, policy gaps exist that hinder efforts to address child labor, including integrating child labor elimination and prevention strategies into relevant policies.

Table 9. Key Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labor in Papua New Guinea (2017–2020)†

Promotes government coordination to eliminate the worst forms of child labor through more effective prevention, protection, rehabilitation, and reintegration measures and capacity building. (3; 38)

Papua New Guinea Trafficking in Persons National Action Plan (2015–2020)

Seeks to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute offenders. (39)

Universal Basic Education Plan (2010-2019)*

Promotes enrollment of children in school and aims to improve retention rates to ensure children receive 9 years of basic education. (40)

Tuition Fee-Free Policy

Aims to improve access to education by abolishing school fees in grades 1 through 10 and providing subsidies for students in grades 11 and 12. (28; 15; 41)

† Policy was approved during the reporting period.
* Child labor elimination and prevention strategies do not appear to have been integrated into this policy. (42)

 

In 2017, the government launched the National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labor in Papua New Guinea (2017–2020). (43) However, research was unable to determine whether activities were undertaken to implement this policy during the reporting period.

In 2017, the government funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor (Table 10). However, gaps exist in these social programs, including adequacy of programs to address the full scope of the problem.

Table 10. Key Social Programs to Address Child Labor

Program

Description

Urban Youth Employment Project (2011–2018)†

Government- and World Bank-funded project that provides youth with training, temporary jobs, and skills development through apprenticeship projects. (44)

1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain

Telephone hotline funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea to report child welfare concerns and physical or sexual violence. (45)

† Program is funded by the Government of Papua New Guinea.

 

Research found no evidence that the government carried out programs specifically designed to assist children engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, domestic work, or mining.

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor in Papua New Guinea (Table 11).

Table 11. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Ratify the UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

2014 – 2017

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

2009 – 2017

Raise the minimum age for light work to 13 to comply with international standards, and ensure that the law’s light work provisions are specific enough to prevent children from involvement in child labor.

2015 – 2017

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits using, procuring, and offering a child for illicit activities, including for the production and trafficking of drugs.

2014 – 2017

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits using, procuring, and offering a child for pornographic performances.

2016 – 2017

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits the recruitment of children under age 18 by non-state armed groups.

2016 – 2017

Establish by law an age up to which education is compulsory that extends to the minimum age for employment.

2009 – 2017

Enforcement

Publish comprehensive information on labor law enforcement, including Labor Inspectorate funding, and the training that labor inspectors receive, the number and type of inspections conducted, the number of child labor violations found, and the number of violations for which penalties were imposed and collected.

2014 – 2017

Strengthen the inspection system by ensuring that inspectors conduct routine or targeted inspections in addition to those that are complaint driven.

2014 – 2017

Provide inspectors with the resources necessary to enforce labor laws and other laws that protect children from the worst forms of child labor.

2009 – 2017

Establish a referral mechanism between labor and criminal law enforcement authorities and social services agencies to ensure that victims of child labor receive appropriate support services.

2014 – 2017

Increase the number of labor inspectors to meet the ILO’s technical advice.

2017

Institutionalize training for labor inspectors on the worst forms of child labor, including training for new labor inspectors at the beginning of their employment.

2016 – 2017

Publish comprehensive information on criminal law enforcement efforts related to child labor, including training for investigators, and the number of investigations conducted, prosecutions initiated, and convictions.

2017

Coordination

Establish coordinating mechanisms to combat child labor.

2009 – 2017

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into the Universal Basic Education Plan.

2013 – 2017

Publish information about the activities that were undertaken to implement the National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labor in Papua New Guinea.

2017

Social Programs

Increase access to education by instituting programs to address gender-based violence against girls in schools and fully eliminating school-related fees.

2014 – 2017

Collect and publish data on the extent and nature of child labor to inform policies and programs.

2017

Institute programs that assist children engaged in the worst forms of child labor in all relevant sectors, especially commercial sexual exploitation, domestic work, and mining.

2010 – 2017

1. ILO Committee of Experts. Observation concerning Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Papua New Guinea (ratification: 2000) Published: 2014. Accessed April 7, 2014. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3143396:NO.

2. U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report- 2017: Papua New Guinea. Washington, DC. June 27, 2017. https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/271344.pdf.

3. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, January 16, 2018.

4. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education, both sexes (%). Accessed March 3, 2018. http://data.uis.unesco.org/. For more information, please see the “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

5. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Analysis received January 12, 2018. Pease see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

6. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, January 22, 2016.

7. Tahana, Jamie. Number of children living on PNG streets increasing. Radio New Zealand International. February 28, 2015. http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/267390/number-of-children-living-on-png-streets-increasing.

8. ILO-IPEC. Summary of KRA3 - Action Programmes in Papua New Guinea, in TACKLE end-of-project workshop on the achievements and challenges of TACKLE in Papua-New Guinea; July 2-3, 2013. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---europe/---ro-geneva/---ilo-brussels/documents/presentation/wcms_217239.pdf.

9. Radio New Zealand. Plan to eliminate child labour launched in PNG. March 22, 2017. https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/327186/plan-to-eliminate-child-labour-launched-in-png.

10. U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report- 2016: Papua New Guinea. Washington, DC. June 30, 2016. https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2016/258840.htm.

11. UN Human Rights Council. Summary Prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Accordance with Paragraph 15 (c) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resoluion 5/1 and Paragraph 5 of the Annex to Council Resolution 16/21: Papua New Guinea. February 3, 2016: Report No. A/HRC/WG.6/25/PNG/3. https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G16/017/50/PDF/G1601750.pdf?OpenElement.

12. Government of Papua New Guinea. Lukautim Pikinini Act 2015. Enacted: March 11, 2016. [Source on file].

13. Ministry of Education National Executive Council. Achieving Universal Education for a Better Future: Universal Basic Education Plan 2010-2019. January 1, 2010. https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/papua-new-guinea-universal-basic-education-plan-2010-2019.

14. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 21, 2014.

15. Department of Education. TFF Introduction. Government of Papua New Guinea. February 2014. http://www.educationpng.gov.pg/TFF/index.html.

16. Salmang, Grace Auka and Kil, Lynette,. Education Secretary Warns Schools Not to Charge Fees. Pacific Islands Report. 2017. http://www.pireport.org/articles/2017/01/30/papua-new-guinea-education-secretary-warns-schools-not-charge-fees.

17. Government of Papua New Guinea. Employment Act. Enacted: 1978. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/travail/docs/1097/Employment%20Act%201978.pdf.

18. —. Constitution of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea. Enacted: 1975. http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/cotisopng534/.

19. —. Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2013, amending Criminal Code of 1974, No. 30. Enacted: July 4, 2014. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/98690/117506/F334954182/PNG98690.pdf.

20. —. Criminal Code Act 1974, No. 262 of 9999. Enacted: 2002. http://www.paclii.org/pg/legis/consol_act/cca1974115/.

21. —. Defence Act. Enacted: 1974. http://www.adh-geneve.ch/RULAC/pdf_state/PNG-Defence-Act-da197456.pdf.

22. Child Soldiers International. Louder than words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers. 2012. https://www.child-soldiers.org/shop/louder-than-words-1.

23. ILO Committee of Experts. Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Papua New Guinea (ratification: 2000) Published: 2014. Accessed April 7, 2014. https://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3143296:NO.

24. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, January 19, 2017.

25. ILO Committee of Experts. Observation concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.138) Papua New Guinea, (ratification: 2000) Published: June 2017. Accessed November 18, 2017. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:13100:0::NO::P13100_COMMENT_ID:3294217.

26. —. Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Papua New Guinea (ratification: 2000) Published: 2017. Accessed. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:13100:0::NO::P13100_COMMENT_ID:3294217.

27. —. Observation concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Papua New Guinea (ratification: 2000) Published: 2012. Accessed April 4, 2016. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:2700701.

28. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, December 28, 2014.

29. —. Reporting, January 16, 2014.

30. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. February 17, 2017.

31. ILO Committee of Experts. Observation concerning Worst forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Papua New Guinea, ratification: 2000, Published: 2017. Accessed November 18, 2017. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3294400.

32. CIA. The World Factbook . Accessed January 19, 2018. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pp.html. Please see “Labor Law Enforcement: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

33. United Nations. World Economic Situation and Prospects, 2018. https://www.un.org/development/desa/dpad/wp-content/uploads/sites/45/publication/WESP2018_Full_Web-1.pdf.

34. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, February 13, 2017.

35. Government of Papua New Guinea. Standard Operating Procedures for the Identification, Referral and Prosecution of Human Trafficking Cases in Papua New Guinea. October 2016. [Source on file].

36. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, February 4, 2015.

37. —. Reporting, January 21, 2014.

38. Department of Labour and Industrial Relations. National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Labour in Papua New Guinea 2017-2020. January 2017. [Source on file].

39. Government of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea Trafficking in Persons National Action Plan. October 2016. [Source on file].

40. —. Universal Basic Education Plan 2010 - 2019. 2009. http://www.education.gov.pg/quicklinks/documents/ube-plan-2010-2019.pdf.

41. —. Medium Term Development Plan 2 2016-2017: Pathway to a Responsible Sustainable Future. 2015. http://www.planning.gov.pg/images/dnpm/pdf/MTDP2.pdf.

42. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. June 17, 2018.

43. U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. Reporting, January 16, 2018.

44. World Bank. Papua New Guinea: Urban Youth Employment Project. August 11, 2013. http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2013/08/12/papua-new-guinea-urban-youth-employment-project.

45. Post-Courier. Telephone Counseling Saving Lives. August 19, 2017. https://postcourier.com.pg/telephone-counseling-saving-lives/.

App

Want this report plus over a thousand pages of research in the palm of your hand? Download ILAB's Sweat & Toil App Today!