Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Sao Tomé and Principe

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

São Tomé and Príncipe

2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2015, São Tomé and Príncipe made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government assessed the impact of a social program on eliminating and preventing child labor. However, children in São Tomé and Príncipe are engaged in child labor, including in domestic work and street work. The types of hazardous work prohibited for children are not comprehensive, and social programs do not target every sector in which children work. Law enforcement agencies lack sufficient resources to adequately enforce child labor laws.

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Children in São Tomé and Príncipe are engaged in child labor, including in domestic work and street work.(1-5) Results from a 2014 study conducted by the Government and ILO indicate that 8 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 17 work; however, the study results have not been made publicly available.(6, 7) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in São Tomé and Príncipe.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

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

15.4 (6,218)

School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):

68.8

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

13.7

Primary completion rate (%):

92.4

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2015, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(8)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis of statistics from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2, 2000.(9)

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,* activities unknown (1, 4, 5)

Fishing,* activities unknown (1)

Industry

Carpentry* and woodworking* (1, 10)

Services

Domestic work (1, 4, 5)

Working in shops* (5)

Street work, including begging* and selling goods (1, 2, 4, 10)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation* (11)

* 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.

On the island of São Tomé, some families engage in a cultural practice known as Mina Quía, in which children perform domestic activities including washing clothes, cooking, and childcare in the home of another family.(1) Some children are permitted to attend school if they can also conduct their domestic duties. Limited evidence suggests that many children who work in Mina Quía are victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence.(1)

There is a high loss of students between the first (first through fourth grades) and second levels (fifth and sixth grades) of primary education. Evidence indicates that additional costs and a lack of schools that offer fifth and sixth grades are barriers to accessing education.(2, 11, 12)

São Tomé and Príncipe has ratified most 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 128 of the Legal Regime of Individual Employment Conditions (13)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 129 of the Legal Regime of Individual Employment Conditions (13)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

Yes

 

Articles 129 and 134 of the Legal Regime of Individual Employment Conditions (13)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Articles 159, 160, and 181 of the Penal Code (14)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Articles 160 and 181 of the Penal Code (14)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Articles 179–182 of the Penal Code (14)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Articles 279, 280, and 289 of the Penal Code (14)

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

Yes

18

Legislation title unknown (15, 16)

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

Yes

17

Legislation title unknown (15, 16)

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

12‡

Article 6(1) of the Basic Education System Law (17, 18)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 55 of the Constitution; Article 6(1) of the Basic Education System Law (18, 19)

‡ Age calculated based on available information (17, 18)

The law’s minimum age protections do not apply to children working outside of a formal labor relationship, such as children who are self-employed.(13, 17)

The Legal Regime of Individual Employment Conditions prohibits children under age 18 from engaging in heavy work carried out in unhealthy or dangerous conditions. It also prohibits underground and night work; however, the types of hazardous work prohibited for children do not cover street work, an unhealthy environment that exposes children to hazardous substances, agents, or processes.(13) In 2014, the Government completed a draft list of hazardous activities for children and submitted it to the National Assembly for review; the list awaits final approval.(7, 20)

The Basic Education System Law establishes a mandatory 6 years of free primary education, which may be completed as early as age 12.(17, 18) Children who stop attending school before reaching the minimum age for employment are especially vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor because they are not in school, but they also may not legally work.

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

Department of Labor Inspection, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Enforce labor laws, including child labor.(7) Use small ad hoc teams to investigate labor exploitation cases; teams include Labor Inspection and other government agencies, including immigration officials, police officers, tax administrators, social workers, and Social Security Administration staff.(3, 21)

Prosecutor’s Office and Criminal Investigative Police, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights

Enforce criminal laws against the worst forms of child labor.(7, 21)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2015, labor law enforcement agencies in São Tomé and Príncipe 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

$16,000 (7)

Unknown

Number of Labor Inspectors

15 (7)

13 (5)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Unknown

No (5)

Training for Labor Inspectors

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown

Unknown

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

N/A

 

N/A

 

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown

Yes (5)

Number of Labor Inspections

Unknown

70 (5)

Number Conducted at Worksite

Unknown

Unknown

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

Unknown

0 (5)

Number of Penalties Imposed That Were Collected

Unknown

N/A

Routine Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Yes (5)

Routine Inspections Targeted

Unknown

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (7)

Yes (5)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Complaint Mechanism Exists

Unknown

Yes (5)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Yes (7, 21)

Yes (5)

 

In 2015, the Department of Labor Inspection received insufficient funding. According to the Government, the number of inspectors is inadequate to deal with potential labor violations in São Tomé and Príncipe.(5)

During the reporting period, the Department of Labor Inspection received two child labor complaints; one of these cases was referred to the Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.(5)

Children found by the Department of Labor Inspection are referred to the Department of Social Services in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for counseling and integration into recreational and educational activities.(5, 7, 21)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2015, criminal law enforcement agencies in São Tomé and Príncipe 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

Unknown

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

N/A

N/A

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Investigations

0 (7)

1 (5)

Number of Violations Found

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

0 (7)

0 (5)

Number of Convictions

Unknown

0 (5)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (7, 21)

Yes (5)

 

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights officials can refer child victims to the Department of Social Services in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for counseling and integration into recreational and educational activities.(5, 7, 21)

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

Anti-Child Labor Committee

Raise awareness to eliminate the worst forms of child labor by 2016 and all forms of child labor by 2020.(20) Representatives include government institutions, ILO, NGOs, labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce, and UNICEF.(7) In March 2015, the Committee conducted a child labor awareness-raising campaign with primary school children in Mé-Zóchi and Água Grande districts.(22)

Department of Social Protection and Solidarity, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Carry out support programs for families to ensure children attend school. Administer the Social Integration Assistance program, which provides funds to the Disadvantaged Mothers program (Mães Carenciadas).(1)

 

The Government of São Tomé and Príncipe has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 9).

Table 9. Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2012–2016)

Outlines social protection strategies to combat child labor and commercial sexual exploitation of children. Aims to ensure that all children complete basic education by 2016.(23)

National Plan for Education (2002–2015)*

Aims to provide free basic education to all children. States that education is free and compulsory for 6 years.(24)

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

The draft National Action Plan on Child Labor, including the list of hazardous activities for children, was finalized in 2014 and is awaiting final approval.(5)

In 2015, the Government of São Tomé and Príncipe 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

Decent Work Country Program (2013–2016)

Government program, in collaboration with the ILO, which prioritizes the promotion of decent employment, especially for young people. Aims to eliminate child labor, particularly the worst forms of child labor, through legislative action and strategic programs.(25)

Support Centers†

Government-funded centers, run by NGOs with social work staff for approximately 210 orphans and at-risk children.(5, 7) Three centers operate in areas with high concentrations of poor families, orphans, and street children. Work with parents of at-risk children, provide stipends to families to keep children in school, and teach income-generating skills to children.(5)

Disadvantaged Mothers Program (Mães Carenciadas)†

Government program that provides funds to female-led households to encourage basic education for children. Scholarships are given to children from low-income households to assist in continuing their studies.(1)

XIV Government Program (Programa do XIV Governo)†

Government program that seeks to improve the quality of education by providing infrastructure, educational opportunities, and technical and professional training for students in primary and secondary education.(1)

† Program is funded by the Government of São Tomé and Príncipe.

In 2015, the Government, in consultation with the ILO, completed a study to assess the impact of the 2014 Workshops for Awareness of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.(5)

Research found no evidence of programs designed to specifically address children engaged in domestic work and street work in São Tomé and Príncipe.

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in São Tomé and Príncipe (Table 11).

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

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

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

2014 – 2015

Ensure that all children are protected by law, including children who are self-employed.

2015

Ensure that the types of hazardous work prohibited for children are comprehensive.

2009 – 2015

Establish a compulsory education age that is equal to or higher than the minimum age for employment.

2014 – 2015

Enforcement

Make information publicly available regarding the labor inspectorate's funding, training for law enforcement officials, type of labor inspections conducted, as well as the number of child labor violations found during inspections and investigations.

2014 – 2015

Authorize the inspectorate to assess penalties.

2015

Allocate sufficient funding to the Department of Labor Inspection and Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to ensure that:

  • The number of labor inspectors is sufficient.
  • Inspectors and investigators receive adequate training.
  • Labor inspectors have the necessary equipment and resources to conduct inspections.
  • Proactive child labor inspections are conducted, even in the absence of reported cases.

2009 – 2015

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into the National Plan for Education.

2014 – 2015

Social Programs

Make the results of the child labor study publicly available, and if necessary, conduct research to determine the activities carried out by children working in agriculture to inform policies and programs.

2015

Expand existing education programs, and increase the number of schools that offer fifth and sixth grades to ensure that all children have access to basic education.

2010 – 2015

Implement programs that specifically target children engaged in domestic work and street work.

2009 – 2015

 

1.         ILO-IPEC. Estudo sobre a aplicação das Convenções n. 138 e n. 182 da OIT e suas recomendações na legislação nacional dos países da CPLP. Geneva; 2013. http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Informationresources/WCMS_222484/lang--en/index.htm.

2.         UNICEF. UNICEF Annual Report 2013 - São Tomé and Príncipe. http://www.unicef.org/about/annualreport/files/Sao_Tome_and_Principe_COAR_2013.pdf.

3.         U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, February 13, 2014.

4.         U.S. Department of State. "Sao Tome and Principe," 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=2014&dlid=236396.

5.         U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, January 15, 2016.

6.         U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, March 4, 2016.

7.         U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, February 6, 2015.

8.         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.

9.         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.

10.       Barros, M. "Trabalho infantil é cada vez mais frequente em São Tomé e Príncipe." independenciaslusa.info [online] October 6, 2015 [cited November 8, 2015]; http://www.independenciaslusa.info/trabalho-infantil-e-cada-vez-mais-frequente-em-sao-tome-e-principe/.

11.       Childs Rights Information Network. São Tomé and Príncipe: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review. Geneva, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; January 31, 2011. https://www.crin.org/en/library/publications/sao-tome-and-principe-childrens-rights-references-universal-periodic-review.

12.       UNICEF. São Tomé and Príncipe Country Programme Document 2012-2016; September 15, 2011. Report No. E/ICEF/2011/P/L.27. http://www.unicef.org/about/execboard/files/Sao_Tome_Principe_final_approved_2012-2016_20_Oct_2011.pdf.

13.       Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Regime Jurídico das Condições Individuais de Trabalho, enacted June 11, 1992. http://www.legis-palop.org/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=62&Itemid=76&limitstart=10.

14.       Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. São Tomé and Príncipe Penal Code, Law 6/2012, enacted November 6, 2012.

15.       Child Soldiers International. "Appendix II: Data Summary Table on Recruitment Ages of National Armies," 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.

16.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (no. 182) São Tomé and Príncipe (ratification: 2005) Submitted: 2014; accessed January 14, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:11003:0:::::.

17.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) São Tomé and Príncipe (ratification: 2005) Submitted: 2014; accessed January 14, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_ID,P11110_COUNTRY_NAME,P11110_COMMENT_YEAR:3133589,103341,Sao%20Tome%20and%20Principe,2013.

18.       Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Lei de Bases do Sistema Educativo, Lei No. 2/2003, enacted June 2, 2003.

19.       Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Constitução da República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe, enacted January 25, 2003. http://www.gov.st/data/filestorage/docs/constistp.pdf.

20.       U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, March 18, 2015.

21.       U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, April 17, 2015.

22.       U.S. Embassy- Libreville. reporting, May 10, 2016.

23.       Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Segunda Estratégia Nacional de Redução da Pobreza 2012-2016; March 2012. https://www.mindbank.info/item/3592.

24.       Government of São Tomé and Príncipe. Plano nacional de acção 2002-2015, enacted November 18, 2002.

25.       ILO. Programme Pays de Travail Décent 2013-2016; December 2012. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---africa/---ro-addis_ababa/---sro-yaounde/documents/genericdocument/wcms_316572.pdf.

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