Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Swaziland

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Swaziland

2015 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

No Advancement – Efforts Made But Complicit in Forced Child Labor

In 2015, Swaziland made efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, but was also complicit in the use of forced child labor. While the Government continued its Free Public Education Program by paying school fees for children to attend primary school and expanded this program to cover grade seven, Swaziland is receiving an assessment of no advancement because the Minister of Education and Training closed schools for 7 days and forced more than 30,000 children and adults to carry out national duties, including weeding the King’s fields. In addition, local chiefs forced children to engage in agricultural work throughout the year. Penalties for refusing to perform this work included evicting families from their village, confiscating livestock, and withholding family wages. Children in Swaziland are also engaged in child labor, including in domestic work and herding cattle. Significant gaps in laws remain, including the lack of a compulsory education age, and social programs do not adequately address child labor in domestic work and livestock herding.

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Children in Swaziland are engaged in child labor, including in domestic work and herding cattle.(1-4) Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Swaziland.

Table 1. Statistics on Children’s Work and Education

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

11.7 (35,368)

School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%):

92.5

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

13.0

Primary completion rate (%):

79.0

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2013, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(5)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children’s Work Project’s analysis of statistics from Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 4, 2010.(6)

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

Growing corn,* picking cotton,* and harvesting sugarcane* (1, 3, 4)

Herding cattle* and other livestock* (1, 3, 4, 7)

Services

Domestic work (1, 3, 4, 7)

Serving alcohol *†(4)

Street work, including as vendors, bus attendants, taxi conductors, portering, and washing cars (2-4, 7-9)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Forced labor in livestock herding,* domestic work,* farming,* and market vending,* each sometimes as a result of human trafficking (2, 10)

Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1, 2, 10)

Use in illicit activities, including growing, manufacturing, and selling drugs* (11)

* 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.

Since 2000, the Government closed schools as part of the Incwala ceremony so that children, ages 13 and older, and adults could weed the fields of King Mswati III.(12-15) From January 20–27, 2015, the Government once again closed schools and required more than 30,000 children and adults to weed the King’s field with their bare hands during morning hours.(12, 16-18) Private schools that were open on January 13, 2015, were ordered to close so that children could weed the King’s fields.  The Government maintains a register of all workers and provided food and a token, referred to as the imbasha, after the work was completed. Children and adults who refused to weed the fields were threatened with high fines, eviction from their village, and the confiscation of livestock.(15, 17, 19)

Act No. 6 of the 1998 Administrative Order gave local chiefs the authority to force residents to perform agricultural work and other essential tasks. The Swaziland High Court declared this law null and void in 2000, but it has yet to be formally repealed.(20) In 2015, local chiefs and their inner councils required residents, including children, to perform agricultural and other work deemed necessary.(10, 14, 18, 20) Residents who refused to perform this work were threatened by the local chiefs with eviction, confiscation of livestock, and wage withholding of wages.(15, 16).

Children in Swaziland, especially girls and orphans, are trafficked within the country and externally to South Africa for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor in agriculture and domestic work. Some Mozambican boys migrate to Swaziland to conduct street work or to work in herding livestock, and subsequently become victims of human trafficking. Local NGOs explained that child abuse cases, including child labor, frequently occur in regions such as Manzini and Lubombo.

Swaziland has one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates, affecting more than a quarter of the population. According to the UNICEF 2010 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, 23.6 percent of children under age 18 have lost at least one parent, mostly as a result of HIV/AIDS.(21-23) A source also indicates that orphans face unfair and unequal treatment in schools. Although the Government paid school fees for some vulnerable children to attend primary school under the Free Primary Education Program, top-up fees required by school officials create barriers to education that further increase children’s vulnerability to exploitative labor.

Although the Government has conducted general labor force surveys, these surveys did not cover child labor; the Government also has not made it a policy to collect data on the worst forms of child labor.(24-26)

Swaziland 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 234 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (27)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 236 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (27)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

Yes

 

Articles 16, 233, 236, and 237 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (27)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 17 of the Constitution; Article 75 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act; Article 13 of the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act (27-29)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Article 75 of the Children Protection and Welfare Act; Article 13 of the People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act (27, 29)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Sections 43-46 of the Crimes Act; Sections 1-5 and 7 of the Obscene Publications Act;  (8, 30)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Articles 16 and 49 of Children’s Protection and Welfare Act (27)

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

N/A*

 

 

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

Yes

18

Section 17(3) of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force Order (31)

Compulsory Education Age

No

 

 

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 29(6) of the Constitution (??); Section 3 of the Free Primary Education Act (28, 32, 33)

* No conscription. (31)

The Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill is still under review in Parliament and has yet to be passed into law. Sections 13–15 and 23–28 of the bill would criminalize using, procuring, and offering a child for commercial sexual exploitation.(30) Section 97 of the Employment Act applies minimum age protections to children working in industrial undertakings, but it does not cover children working in domestic and agricultural work.(34) Under Articles 233, 236, and 237 of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act, children are prohibited from engaging in hazardous work in industrial undertakings, including in mining, manufacturing, and doing electrical work; however, these prohibitions do not extend to children in domestic and agricultural work; evidence indicates that children may be working long hours, using dangerous machines, carrying heavy loads, receiving exposure to harmful pesticides, and working alone in remote areas.(4, 27)

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Ministry of Labor and Social Security

Enforce child labor laws and promote relations between labor, government, and business through tripartite dialogue.(1, 35)

Royal Swaziland Police

Enforce child labor laws.(1, 35) The Domestic Violence and Protection Unit primarily focuses on addressing child labor by educating police officers on how to identify child labor violations and the obligation to report violations. Enforce child labor laws.(1, 35)

Department of Social Welfare

Enforce child labor laws and look out for the interests of vulnerable populations, including orphans, children, and elderly people.(1, 35)

 

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2015, labor law enforcement agencies in Swaziland 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* (3)

Unknown* (3)

Number of Labor Inspectors

30 (3)

30 (3)

Number of Child Labor Dedicated Inspectors

3 (3)

3 (3)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

No (3)

No (3)

Training for Labor Inspectors

 

 

Initial Training for New Employees

Yes (3)

N/A (3)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Yes (3)

N/A (3)

Refresher Courses Provided

No (3)

No (3)

Number of Labor Inspections

Unknown* (3)

Unknown* (3)

Number Conducted at Worksite

Unknown* (3)

Unknown* (3)

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

0* (3)

0* (3)

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

2 (3)

0* (3)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

Unknown* (3)

0* (3)

Number of Penalties Imposed That Were Collected

Unknown* (3)

0* (3)

Routine Inspections Conducted

Yes (3)

Yes (3)

Routine Inspections Targeted

Yes (3)

Yes (3)

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (3)

Yes (3)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Yes (3)

Yes (3)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

No (3)

No (3)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Yes (3)

Yes (3)

* The Government does not make this information publicly available.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security and NGOs noted that labor inspectors lacked sufficient resources, such as vehicles to conduct inspections.(3)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2015, criminal law enforcement agencies in Swaziland 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 (3)

Unknown (3)

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

Unknown (3)

Unknown (3)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (3)

Yes (7)

Number of Investigations

2 (3)

Unknown (3)

Number of Violations Found

2 (3)

0 (3)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

0 (3)

0 (3)

Number of Convictions

0 (3)

0 (3)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (3)

Yes (3)

* The Government does not make this information publicly available.

The Royal Swaziland Police Domestic Violence and Child Protection Unit trained police officers using the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act orientation package for police officers that was developed in collaboration with UNICEF to clarify the role of police officers in addressing child labor.(7)

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

Trafficking in Persons Secretariat

Coordinate, monitor, and implement programs to combat trafficking in persons, with the assistance of the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.(37)

Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force

Exchange information on cases of human trafficking between relevant stakeholders, including the police, immigration, social services, and prosecutors. Comprises a conglomerate of NGOs and government entities, including the Royal Swaziland Police; Director of Public Prosecutions; Attorney General’s Office; Department of Social Welfare; Department of Health; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and MLSS.(1, 38)

 

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

Table 9. Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Plan of Action for Children

Implements the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act mandate by developing a plan to address child labor, especially in hazardous work.(32)

National Children’s Policy

Represents the policy framework of the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act.(32)

National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Provides strategic objectives, such as providing education, psychosocial support, child protection, research and monitoring, and support to help orphans and vulnerable children enroll in school. Identifies child laborers as a vulnerable group of children.(36)

National Strategic Framework and Action Plan to Combat People Trafficking

Assigns responsibilities to relevant Government agencies on trafficking in persons.(37)

UN Development Assistance Framework (2011–2015)*

Improved access to social services, especially for women, children, and disadvantaged groups.(38)

National Social Development Policy*

Provides protections for children, including orphans and vulnerable children, street children, children with disabilities, and others.(32)

Education Sector Policy*

Seeks to provide equitable access to education.(32)

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

Although the National Task Team drafted an Action Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (APEC) in 2008 and made additional changes in 2012, it has not been approved. APEC includes the legal protections outlined in the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act.

In 2015, the Government of Swaziland 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 (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, 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 Swaziland.(41) During the year, IPEC-SIMPOC reviewed the data collected, in collaboration with the Swaziland national statistical office in preparing a report on the findings.(42)

Decent Work Country Program (2010–2017)

ILO program seeking to raise awareness of and provide training programs on international labor standards, with the aim of developing national laws related to the ratified ILO conventions. (39, 40)

Free Primary Education Program (2009–2015)†

Government program provided free primary education to children. In 2015, the program was extended from grade six to grade seven.(3)

† Program is funded by the Government of Swaziland.

Government resources allocated to education, the fight against HIV/AIDS, and other social protection programs that may affect the worst forms of child labor are still limited. The Government, in collaboration with NGOs, provided trafficking victims with basic necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, toiletries, counseling, and medical care.(18) Although Swaziland has programs that target child labor, research found no evidence that it has carried out programs specifically designed to assist children working in livestock herding and domestic work.

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

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

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Establish a compulsory education age that is consistent with the minimum age for employment.

2009 – 2015

Ensure that the minimum age provisions in the law apply to children working in all industries, including in agriculture and domestic work.

2013 – 2015

Ensure that the hazardous occupations and activities prohibited for children are comprehensive and include agriculture and domestic work.

2012 – 2015

Enact the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill to further protect children from commercial sexual exploitation.

2009 – 2015

Enforcement

Provide adequate resources, including transportation, to conduct labor inspections.

2013 – 2015

Develop a system to record child labor complaints.

2009 – 2015

Make civil and criminal enforcement information publicly available on the number of inspections, violations, investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and penalties issued.

2013 – 2015

Coordination

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

2015

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into relevant development and education policies.

2010 – 2015

Adopt a policy, such as APEC, that addresses the worst forms of child labor.

2012 – 2015

Social Programs

Collect data on the worst forms of child labor.

2009 – 2015

Ensure that children are guaranteed access to free education, including by addressing illegal school fees.

2013 – 2015

Ensure that local chiefs are not illegally imposing Act No. 6 of the 1998 Administrative Order to force children to perform agricultural work.

2010 – 2015

Develop programs to mitigate the impact that HIV/AIDS may have on access to education and a child’s vulnerability to the worst forms of child labor.

2010 – 2015

Develop social protection programs for the withdrawal from or prevention of children working in domestic work and livestock herding.

2014 – 2015

 

 

1.         U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, January 17, 2014.

2.         U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, February 17, 2015.

3.         U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, January 15, 2016.

4.         U.S. Department of State. "Swaziland," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2014. Washington, DC; June 25, 2015; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/236624.pdf.

5.         UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed February 10, 2014]; 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.

6.         UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. 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.

7.         Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse. Interview with USDOL consultant. September 16, 2015.

8.         U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, January 29, 2013.

9.         U.S. Department of State. "Swaziland," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2015. Washington, DC; July 27, 2015; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/243561.pdf.

10.       U.S. Department of State. "Swaziland," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2014. Washington, DC; June 20, 2014; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/226848.pdf.

11.       U.S. Department of State. "Swaziland," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2013. Washington, DC; February 27, 2014; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2013&dlid=220167

12.       Hlatshwayo, V. "Swazi King delays school so that students can weed his fields." Bloomberg Business, January 19, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-20/swazi-king-delays-school-so-that-students-can-weed-his-fields.

13.       "Swaziland; Swazi Govt misleads on child labour." Swazi Media Commentary, January 20, 2015. [source on file].

14.       AllAfrica. "Swaziland: King Exploits Forced Child Labour." allafrica.com [online] Novermber 15, 2013 [cited May 27, 2014]; http://allafrica.com/stories/201311151200.html.

15.       U.S. Department of State official. Interview with USDOL consultant. March 1, 2016.

16.       AllAfrica. "Swaziland: Kids Forced to Weed King's Fields " allafrica.com [online] January 16, 2015 [cited March 15,2016]; http://allafrica.com/stories/201501191963.html.

17.       Global Post. "Mswati demands school children to weed his fields." gpweekly.com [online] January 23, 2015 [cited March 15,2016]; http://www.gpweekly.com/main/africa/mswati-demands-school-children-weed-fields.

18.       U.S. Embassy- Mbabane official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. February 5, 2016.

19.       Namibian Sun. "Swazi king delays school opening " Namibian Sun, January 19, 2015. http://www.namibiansun.com/international/swazi-king-delays-school-opening.75787.

20.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Forced Labor Convention, 1930 (No. 29) Swaziland (ratification: 1978) Submitted: 2013; accessed February 16,2016; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:13100:0::NO:13100:P13100_COMMENT_ID:3148962

21.       UNICEF. Swaziland Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010 Final Report; December 2011. [source on file].

22.       Nordtveit, B. "Schools as Agencies of Protection in Namibia and Swaziland: Can They Prevent Dropout and Child Labor in the Context of HIV/AIDS and Poverty?" Comparative Education Review, 54(no. 2):223-242 (2010); [source on file].

23.       Ulandssekretariatet, LO/FTF Council. Swaziland - Labour Market Profile 2013; 2013. http://www.ulandssekretariatet.dk/sites/default/files/uploads/public/Afrika/Landeanalyser/labour_market_profile_2012_-_swaziland_web.pdf.

24.       U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, January 19, 2012.

25.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Swaziland (ratification: 2002) Submitted: 2013; accessed May 6, 2015; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:1:0

26.       U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, February 17, 2011.

27.       Government of Swaziland. Children's Protection and Welfare Act, enacted 2012. [source on file].

28.       Government of Swaziland. An Act to provide for the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland, enacted 2005. www.ide.uniswa.sz/documents/resources/constitution2004.pdf.

29.       Government of Swaziland. The People Trafficking and People Smuggling (Prohibition) Act, Act No. 7 enacted November 10, 2009. [source on file].

30.       Government of Swaziland. Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill, enacted 2015. [source on file].

31.       Government of Zimbabwe. The Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force Order, enacted 1977.

32.       Government of Swaziland. Progress Report on the Elimination of Child Labour in Swaziland; January 16, 2013. [source on file].

33.       Government of Swaziland. Free Primay Education Act, enacted 2010. [source on file].

34.       ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Observation concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Swaziland (ratification: 2002) Submitted: 2013; accessed May 6, 2015; http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm

35.       U.S. Embassy- Mbabane official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 24, 2014.

36.       Government of Swaziland. National Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Swaziland. Mbabane; 2006-2010. http://www.socialserviceworkforce.org/system/files/resource/files/National%20Plan%20for%20Orphans%20and%20Vulnerable%20Children%20Swaziland.pdf.

37.       U.S. Embassy- Mbabane. reporting, February 13, 2014.

38.       United Nations Country Team. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework for The Kingdom of Swaziland 2011-2015. New York, United Nations Development Group; April 8, 2010. http://www.sz.undp.org/content/dam/swaziland/docs/documents/UNDP_SZ_UNDAF2011to2015.pdf.

39.       ILO. Decent Work Country Programme for Swaziland 2010 to 2014. Geneva; October 27, 2010. http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/dwcp/download/swaziland.pdf.

40.       International Labor Organization. Decent Work Country Programmes [Programme Extensions], ILO, [online] [cited March 24, 2016]; http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/dwcp/countries/.

 

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