Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Solomon Islands

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Solomon Islands

2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2016, the Solomon Islands made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government amended the Penal Code to improve protections for children against commercial sexual exploitation. However, children in the Solomon Islands engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. The minimum age for employment does not meet international standards and the Government has not comprehensively identified the hazardous occupations prohibited for children. In addition, education is not compulsory, which increases children's vulnerability to child labor.

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Children in the Solomon Islands engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking.(1-6) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in the Solomon Islands. Data on some of these key 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 (%)

 

88.6

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2015, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2016.(7)
Data were unavailable from Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis, 2016.(8)

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

Harvesting palm oil fruits on plantations (9, 10)

Harvesting sea cucumbers, including diving in deep water (4, 9)

Industry

Alluvial mining† (9)

Construction on roads and buildings, including making bricks (9)

Services

Domestic work and work as cooks (4, 9)

Scavenging for cans and metal in garbage dumpsites, streets, and streams (3, 9)

Working in nightclubs, casinos, and motels (4, 9)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1-6)

Use in illicit activities, including in the cultivation and trafficking of drugs (1, 3, 9)

Forced domestic work and forced work as cooks (4, 6, 11)

† 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.

In the Solomon Islands, the commercial sexual exploitation of both boys and girls is prevalent near logging camps, near or aboard fishing vessels, and at hotels and entertainment establishments.(2, 5)

Although the Government's Fee Free Basic Education Policy provides free education for children in grades one through nine, additional school fees, uniform and book costs, and transportation limitations that make it challenging for some children, particularly girls, to access education.(9, 12) There is no nationally representative data available on the prevalence and nature of child labor in the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands 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, including its worst forms (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Solomon Island's legal framework to adequately protect children from child labor.

Table 4. Laws and Regulations on Child Labor

Standard

Meets International Standards: Yes/No

Age

Legislation

Minimum Age for Work

No

12

Article 46 of the Labor Act (13)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

No

 

 

Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children

No

 

Articles 47–49 of the Labor Act (13)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 6 of the Constitution; Articles 251 and 256 of the Penal Code; Part 7 of the Immigration Act (14-16)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

No

 

Part 7 of the Immigration Act; Article 145 of the Penal Code (16, 17)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

No

 

Articles 141, 143, and 144 of the Penal Code (15, 17)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

No

 

 

Minimum Age for Military Recruitment

 

 

 

State Compulsory

N/A†

 

 

State Voluntary

N/A†

 

 

Non-state Compulsory

No

 

 

Compulsory Education Age

No

 

 

Free Public Education

No

 

 

† No standing military (18)

In 2016, the Government adopted an amendment to the Penal Code, which criminally prohibits domestic human trafficking, with heightened penalties if the offence is committed against a child. However, the prohibitions against child trafficking are insufficient because they require threats, the use of force, or other forms of coercion to be established for the crime of child trafficking. The amendment also criminalizes the use, procuring, and offering of a child for commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution.(17) Further, the law prohibits the use, procuring, and offering of a child for the production of pornography, but these prohibitions are insufficient, as they do not include pornographic performances.(17)

The minimum age for work is not in compliance with international standards because the Labor Act permits children as young as age 12 to work.(13) The hazardous work prohibitions are not in compliance with international standards. The Labor Code prohibits all children under 18 from working at night in industrial undertakings, all females under 18 from working in a mine or a ship, all boys under 15 from working in industry or on ships, and all boys under 16 from working in a mine. However, it doesn’t clearly set forth a minimum age for hazardous work in compliance with international standards or delineate, after tripartite consultation, the type of work considered hazardous in the country for all children. In addition, the legal framework doesn’t prohibit the types of work in which children engage in the Solomon Islands where there is evidence of dangers, including in scavenging and in agricultural activities, where children are exposed to injuries, extreme temperatures, and agrochemicals.(9)

Laws do not prohibit the use of children in illicit activities, including in the production and trafficking of drugs.(15) The Solomon Islands has not established an age to which education is compulsory, which increases the risk of children's involvement in child labor. Although there are no laws that provide free basic education, there is a policy that sufficiently provides for free basic education.(12)

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5). However, gaps in labor law and criminal law enforcement remain and some enforcement information is not available.

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labor, and Immigration

Enforce child labor laws.(19) Through the Immigration Division, leads efforts to combat human trafficking, including the trafficking of children.(20, 21)

Royal Solomon Islands Police

Enforce criminal laws against the worst forms of child labor.(11) Leads investigations of internal human trafficking cases.(22)

Joint Monitoring and Investigation Team

Monitor and investigate cases of transnational human trafficking, specifically in the logging industry. Comprises representatives from the Immigration Division, the Royal Solomon Islands Police, Customs, and Forestry.(20)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

Research did not find information on whether labor law enforcement agencies in the Solomon Islands took actions to combat the worst forms of child labor (Table 6).

Table 6. Labor Law Enforcement Efforts Related to Child Labor

Overview of Labor Law Enforcement

2015

2016

Labor Inspectorate Funding

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number of Labor Inspectors

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Training for Labor Inspectors

 

 

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Refresher Courses Provided

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number of Labor Inspections

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number Conducted at Worksite

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Number of Penalties Imposed that Were Collected

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Routine Inspections Conducted

No (23)

Unknown (19)

Routine Inspections Targeted

N/A (23)

Unknown (19)

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (13)

Yes (13)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

Unknown

Unknown (19)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Unknown

Unknown (19)

 

Inadequate resources continue to hamper the labor inspectorate's capacity to enforce child labor laws.(11, 23)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2016, criminal law enforcement agencies in the Solomon Islands 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

2015

2016

Training for Investigators

   

Initial Training for New Employees

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

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

Unknown (23)

Unknown (19)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (20)

Yes (24)

Number of Investigations

Unknown (23)

1 (22)

Number of Violations Found

Unknown (23)

1 (22)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

Unknown (23)

0 (22)

Number of Convictions

Unknown (23)

0 (22)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (20)

Yes (20)

In 2016, the IOM and the Solomon Islands Immigration Division conducted a series of province-level anti-human trafficking trainings for law enforcement officials, focusing on victim identification and protection.(24)

Although the Government has established a coordination mechanism on trafficking in persons, as well as the National Advisory Committee on Children, which advises the Cabinet on children's issues, research found no evidence of mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including all its worst forms (Table 8).

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

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

Anti-Human Trafficking Advisory Committee

Coordinate efforts across the Government to address human trafficking.(20) Includes the Immigration Division, which acts as secretariat, and representatives from law enforcement agencies and NGOs.(22)

The Government has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 9).

Table 9. Key Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Action Plan on Human Trafficking and People Smuggling (2015–2020)

Establishes a framework for national anti-human trafficking efforts. Raises awareness about commercial sexual exploitation of children and services available for vulnerable children.(20, 25) Approximately $3,850 has been allocated for victim support under the plan.(22)

Fee Free Basic Education Policy

Subsidizes school fees for grades one through nine to increase access to education.(9, 12)

‡ The Government had other policies that may have addressed child labor issues or had an impact on child labor.(26)

Although the Government of the Solomon Islands has adopted the National Action Plan on Human Trafficking and People Smuggling, research found no evidence of a policy on other worst forms of child labor. Child labor prevention and elimination strategies do not appear to be integrated in the Fee Free Basic Education Policy.

In 2016, the Government participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 10).

Table 10. Key Social Programs to Address Child Labor

Program

Description

Protecting Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse Through Empowerment and Cooperation

EU-funded program, implemented by Save the Children in collaboration with the National Advisory Committee on Children. Seeks to strengthen community-level child protection and referral mechanisms in three provinces to protect children from engagement in commercial sexual exploitation.(27-29)

‡ The Government of the Solomon Islands had other programs that may have addressed child labor issues or had an impact on child labor.(30)

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

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

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

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

2014 – 2016

Raise the minimum age for employment to at least 14 to comply with international standards.

2009 – 2016

Ensure that laws clearly establish 18 years old as the minimum age for hazardous work.

2009 – 2016

After tripartite consultations, determine the types of hazardous work prohibited for children, including the types of work in which children are engaged where there is evidence of hazards, such as in scavenging and in agriculture.

2009 – 2016

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits child trafficking, regardless of whether threats, the use of force, or other forms of coercion can be established.

2016

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

2016

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

2011 – 2016

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

2016

Establish by law an age up to which education is compulsory.

2009 – 2016

Enforcement

Publish information on the enforcement of labor laws and criminal laws on child labor, including its worst forms.

2009 – 2016

Allocate adequate funds for the enforcement of laws on child labor, including its worst forms.

2009 – 2012
2014 – 2016

Coordination

Establish coordinating mechanisms to combat child labor, including its worst forms.

2010 – 2016

Government Policies

Adopt a policy that addresses all relevant worst forms of child labor.

2016

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into the Fee Free Education Policy.

2014 – 2016

Social Programs

Conduct research on child labor in the Solomon Islands to inform policy and program design.

2013 – 2016

Eliminate barriers to basic education by improving access to school transportation and eliminating school-related fees.

2014 – 2016

1.           Osifelo, E. "Alarming Rate in Child Labour, Trafficking." Solomon Star, Honiara, November 29, 2014; National News. http://www.solomonstarnews.com/news/national/5124-alarming-rate-in-child-labour-trafficking.

2.           Ewart, R. "Parents complicit in Solomon Islands child trafficking: Save The Children," Pacific Beat. Melbourne, Australia: ABC News; August 13, 2015; 7 min., 7 sec., radio broadcast; [accessed November 1, 2015]; http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-14/parents-complicit-in-solomon-islands-child/6697104.

3.           ILO. Sub-regional Child Labour and Trafficking Forum. Nadi; April 2015. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilo-suva/documents/publication/wcms_405960.pdf.

4.           Save the Children. Dynamics of Child Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Solomon Islands. Honiara; January 30, 2015. [source on file].

5.           ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request Concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Solomon Islands (ratification: 2012) Published: 2016; accessed November 7, 2016; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3243007:YES.

6.           U.S. Department of State. "Solomon Islands," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2016. Washington, DC; June 30, 2016; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258881.pdf.

7.           UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education, both sexes (%). [Accessed December 16, 2016]; http://data.uis.unesco.org/. Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education. 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 education. A high ratio indicates a high degree of current primary education completion. The calculation includes all new entrants to the last grade (regardless of age). Therefore, 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 “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

8.           UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Analysis received December 15, 2016. 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,  please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.

9.           U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, December 28, 2014.

10.         ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request Concerning Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)  Solomon Islands (ratification: 1985) Published: 2014; accessed November 7, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3149406.

11.         U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, January 16, 2014.

12.         U.S. Department of State. "Solomon Islands," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2015. Washington, DC; April 13, 2016; https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/253011.pdf.

13.         U.S. Department of Labor. By the Sweat & Toil of Children Volume VI: An Economic Consideration of Child Labor. January 1, 2000. http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1147&context=key_workplace.

14.         International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. Children in hazardous work; What we know, what we need to do. Geneva, International Labor Organization 2011. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/@publ/documents/publication/wcms_155428.pdf.

15.         Patrick Emerson, Vladimir Ponczek, and Andre Portela Souza. Child Labor and Learning; November 3, 2016. [source on file].

16.         Government of Solomon Islands. Immigration Act 2012, No.3 of 2012, enacted March 9, 2012. http://www.paclii.org/sb/legis/num_act/ia2012138/.

17.         Government of Solomon Islands,. Penal Code (Amendment) (Sexual Offences) Bill 2016, amending the Penal Code, No. 1 of 2016, enacted 2016. http://www.parliament.gov.sb/files/committees/bills&legislationcommittee/2016/Penal__Code_(Amendment)_(Sexual_Offences)_Bill_2016.pdf.

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

19.         U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, January 31, 2017.

20.         U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, January 15, 2016.

21.         U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, January 21, 2014.

22.         U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, February 13, 2017.

23.         U.S. Embassy- Port Moresby. reporting, January 22, 2016.

24.         IOM. Beating the Traffickers in the Solomon Islands. Press Release. Geneva; May 20, 2016. https://www.iom.int/news/beating-traffickers-solomon-islands.

25.         Government of Solomon Islands. Solomon Islands National Action Plan (2015-2020). 2015. [source on file].

26.         United Nations Pacific. Solomon Islands: UNDAF Results Matrix 2013-2017; 2013. http://www.undp.org/content/dam/samoa/docs/UNDP_WS_UNDAF_Summary_Report_2013-17.pdf.

27.         "Call for Action to End Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Solomon Islands." theislandsun.com [online] August 15, 2015 [cited November 1, 2015]; http://theislandsun.com/CALL-FOR-ACTION-TO-END-CHILD-TRAFFICKING-AND-SEXUAL-EXPLOITATION-OF-CHILDREN-IN-THE-SOLOMON-ISLANDS/.

28.         U.S. Embassy Port Moresby official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 15, 2016.

29.         U.S. Embassy Port Moresby official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. February 12, 2017.

30.         ILO. TACKLE Update - Newsletter; April 14, 2015. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/---ilo-suva/documents/publication/wcms_360537.pdf.

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