Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Timor-Leste

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Timor-Leste

2014 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Moderate Advancement

In 2014, Timor-Leste made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government passed a resolution to formally establish the National Commission against Child Labor (NCCL/CNTI) that will coordinate the Government's efforts to combat child labor, including its worst forms. In addition, the General Labor Inspectorate Directorate created a new department to deal specifically with child labor issues and hired two additional inspectors. Government officials responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws, including labor inspectors and police officers, participated in numerous trainings on child labor investigation and victim identification procedures. However, children in Timor-Leste are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture. Although the NCCL/CNTI approved a list of hazardous occupations and activities prohibited for children, the list has not yet been legally adopted, leaving children vulnerable to engagement in hazardous work.

 

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Children in Timor-Leste are engaged in child labor, including in agriculture.(1-3) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Timor-Leste.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education

Working children, ages 10 to 14 (% and population):

19.9 (26,268)

Working children by sector, ages 10 to 14 (%)

 

Agriculture

97.6

Industry

1.4

Services

1.0

School attendance, ages 7 to 14 (%):

69.7

Children combining work and school, ages 10 to 14 (%):

12.6

Primary completion rate (%):

71.0

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2011, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015.(4)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards, 2007.(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

Cultivating and processing coffee* (1-3)

Fishing,* including work on boats* and repairing nets* (1-3)

Industry

Construction,* including brickmaking* (1, 2)

Services

Domestic work* (1, 2)

Street work, including vending,* begging,* and scavenging* (1-3, 6)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Commercial sexual exploitation and forced domestic and agricultural work each sometimes as a result of human trafficking* (1, 3, 7, 8)

* 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.

In a few cases, Timorese families place their children in bonded domestic and agricultural labor in order to settle outstanding debts.(8, 9) There is limited evidence that girls are trafficked transnationally to Indonesia for labor exploitation.(9, 10) According to data collected by the Secretary of State for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) and released in 2014, during the previous reporting period there were 233 cases of child labor recorded in the capital city of Dili. Of these children, 179 were male and 54 were female.(11) More comprehensive national data on child and forced labor from the Integrated Labor Force Survey is expected to be released in 2015.(11)

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Timor-Leste 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

15

Article 68 of the Labor Code (12)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

17

Article 67 of the Labor Code (12)

Prohibition of Hazardous Occupations or Activities for Children

Yes

 

Articles 67-69 of the Labor Code (12)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Articles 8 and 67 of the Labor Code (12)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Article 81 of the Immigration and Asylum Act; Articles 162-166 of the Penal Code of Timor-Leste; Article 67 of the Labor Code (12-14)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Articles 174- 176 of the Penal Code of Timor-Leste; Article 67 of the Labor Code (12, 14)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Article 67 of the Labor Code (12)

Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment

Yes

18

Article 14 of the Law on Military Service (15)

Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service

Yes

18

Article 17 of the Law on Military Service (15, 16)

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

16/17

Article 11 of the Education System Framework Law (17)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Section 59 of the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste; Article 11 of the Education System Framework Law (17, 18)

The legal framework in Timor-Leste is not completely consistent with international standards regarding hazardous child labor. While the Timorese Labor Code does contain provisions that prohibit children from involvement in work likely to jeopardize their health, safety, and morals, it is neither comprehensive nor specific enough to facilitate effective enforcement.(12) Additionally, a minor is defined as a person whose age is less than 17 years.(12, 14) This standard leaves 17-year-old children vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor.(19)In 2014, Timor-Leste's National Commission against Child Labor (NCCL/CNTI) unanimously approved a list of hazardous occupations and activities prohibited for children that had been under review since 2012.(11, 20, 21) To formalize the list, the Secretariat of State for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) is now working with the ILO to draft a law, which must be approved by the Council of Ministers. At the conclusion of the reporting period, the Council had not yet given final approval of the list.(11)

Similarly, approval is still pending for draft legislation against human trafficking originally submitted in 2012. In 2014, the Ministry of Justice revised and resubmitted an improved version.(9, 22) The proposed law seeks to strengthen efforts to combat trafficking in persons by rationalizing the country's disparate legal provisions regarding the definition of human trafficking and the penalties prescribed for this crime. It would also clarify Government roles and responsibilities to ensure more effective anti-trafficking coordination among agencies.(9, 11)

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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

The Secretariat of State for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE)

Enforce laws related to child labor. Administer the General Labor Inspectorate Directorate, which is responsible for investigating incidents of forced labor.(1)

National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL)

Enforce criminal laws against forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, and human trafficking. Includes the Vulnerable Persons Unit, the Immigration Police, and the Border Police.(1)

The Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS)

Enforce laws related to child labor.(1) Receive referrals from agencies responsible for conducting child labor investigations and provide child victims with appropriate support services.(1) Maintain a directory of service providers for which trafficking victim referrals can be made.(7)

Law enforcement agencies in Timor-Leste took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2014, the Secretariat of State for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) employed 22 labor inspectors. Within the General Labor Inspectorate Directorate, SEPFOPE created a specialized department to manage child labor issues and assigned 4 inspectors to focus on investigating child labor cases and enforcing relevant laws.(11) The ILO noted that the number of inspectors is insufficient, especially for conducting child labor inspections outside of the capital.(11) In April and May of 2014, 38 labor inspectors and law enforcement officials received technical training on how to effectively identify and investigate cases of child labor and forced labor.(11, 23)

During the reporting period, SEPFOPE carried out 10 random, unannounced site visits to inspect for child labor violations in street work, construction, transportation, commerce, industry, and on coffee plantations. This is a significant decrease from the 45 inspections conducted in 2013.(11) Although SEPFOPE established local offices in 5 of 13 districts during the reporting period, the majority of inspectors are still posted in the capital of Dili and encounter transportation challenges in accessing outlying areas. The lack of adequate transportation may limit the ability of the Labor Inspectorate Directorate to conduct inspections.(11) SEPFOPE confirmed that labor inspectors are legally authorized to conduct both routine and complaint-driven inspections in all workplaces, apart from private homes.(11) Police officers may be called upon to investigate suspected cases of child domestic labor in these instances.(11) The Labor Inspectorate Directorate found no violations of child labor laws in 2014, and therefore no penalties or citations for child labor law violations were issued, and no children were withdrawn from exploitative work.(11) If children are identified in child labor situations, inspectors may refer them to the Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS) for support services.(1, 7, 11)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2014, the Criminal Investigation Unit of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) had a staff of 38 officers, two of whom were charged specifically with the enforcement of criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor.(10) The PNTL had an operating budget of $27.8 million, but continues to face significant human resource and budget execution challenges.(11, 24) The Vulnerable Persons Unit, which is directly responsible for assisting human trafficking victims, did not have a separate budget to support its activities.(11) Limited funding resulted in logistical and transportation obstacles in conducting investigations.(1, 9) Throughout the reporting period, law enforcement officials participated in extensive training on combatting human trafficking. In January 2014, the UNODC organized a U.S. Embassy-funded training course for 25 PNTL Border Patrol Unit officers.(9) Additionally, the PNTL collaborated with USAID to train 217 officers in general investigative skills that will support Government anti-trafficking efforts.(22) The local NGO, Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor (PRADET), also provided trainings for law enforcement officials and prosecutors on the worst forms of child labor and trained 170 individuals on how to identify and report suspected cases of child and forced labor.(11)

The Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS) reported that the PNTL investigated one case of forced child labor involving a 7-year-old child. Police officers removed the child in question from the exploitative situation and provided accommodation in a Government-funded safe house.(11) In 2014, the MSS established at least one technical officer in each of the country's 13 districts to receive complaints and provide basic services to victims of human trafficking. In addition, there were two child protection officers stationed in each of the 65 sub-districts.(9) These officials are trained to follow the Government's standard operating procedures for referrals.(7, 9) At the close of the reporting period, the only reported investigation was ongoing, and there were no additional prosecutions, convictions, or penalties issued for crimes related to the worst forms of child labor.(11)

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The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

National Commission against Child Labor (NCCL/CNTI)*

Facilitate information sharing on child labor issues among Government agencies and serve as the overall coordinating mechanism for filing and responding to child labor complaints.(11) Develop child labor policies, raise awareness, and contribute to efforts to ratify and implement international conventions related to child protection.(1) The Secretariat of State for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) will serve as the Technical Secretariat of NCCL/CNTI for a 3-year term. Composed of representatives from 23 additional members, including the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, Finance, Justice, Health, Social Solidarity, Public Works and Commerce, Industry, and the Environment; Trade Unions Confederation; the Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Eyes on Human Rights Forum (Tau Matan).(11)

The Inter-Agency Trafficking Working Group

Coordinate the Government's efforts to combat human trafficking. Chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and includes the MSS, Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense and Security, the Secretary of State for the Promotion of Equality, SEPFOPE, and the PNTL.(7) In 2014, the working group convened three times.(10)

*Mechanism to coordinate efforts to address child labor was created during the reporting period.

On January 15, 2014, Timor-Leste passed Government Resolution 1/2014, which formalized the preexisting Child Labor Commission (CLC) Working Group to establish the National Commission against Child Labor (NCCL/CNTI). The Government provided funding and office space to enable staff of SEPFOPE to carry out the work of the NCCL/CNTI.(11)

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The Government of Timor-Leste has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

Timor-Leste Project for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Aims to strengthen implementation of ILO C. 182. Specific activities include establishing the Child Labor Commission Working Group; developing a national list of work deemed hazardous and prohibited for children; and developing a national action plan against child labor.(11) Launched in 2009 in partnership with the ILO and the Government of Brazil.(11)

The Timor-Leste Strategic Development Plan (2011–2030)

Provides short-term and long-term plans for the nation's development, including the eradication of the worst forms of child labor, poverty alleviation, and implementation of social transfer programs.(1, 25) Specifies commitments to improve the educational system over the next 20 years, including addressing gender parity in primary schools and preventing school dropouts.(21, 25)

National Education Strategic Plan (2011–2030)*

Identifies three strategic priority areas for national education reform: access, including enrolment and retention; quality; and management. Includes specific strategies and activities to promote equal access to nine years of basic education for all children, including building and renovating schools and instituting social inclusion tools to promote girls' education.(26)

Child and Family Welfare System Policy*†

Develops a framework to strengthen the social protection system for children and their families in Timor-Leste. Focuses on providing support services to children in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty and those at risk of abuse, violence, neglect, or exploitation.(10, 27)

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

The newly established National Commission against Child Labor (NCCL/CNTI) assumed responsibility for finalizing the draft National Action Plan Against Child Labor, a process which has been ongoing since 2011.(28, 29) At the close of the reporting period, the Action Plan was not yet complete. In addition, the Council of Ministers did not take action to approve the draft National Plan of Action on Trafficking in Persons submitted by the Inter-Agency Anti-Trafficking Working Group in 2012.(7, 29) The draft National Plan of Action could be superseded by passage of the draft anti-trafficking legislation, which creates an anti-trafficking commission and charges it with developing and implementing a national plan of action.(10)

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In 2014, the Government of Timor-Leste funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms. The Government has other programs that may have an impact on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Social Programs to Address Child Labor

Program

Description

Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues Project

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 build the capacity of the national Government and develop strategic policies to address the elimination of child labor and forced labor in Timor-Leste.(30) In 2014, provided training for 38 law enforcement officials on child and forced labor investigation procedures and supported the formal establishment of the NCCL/CNTI.(11, 23, 30)

Child Labor Education and Outreach Program†

The Secretariat of State for Professional Training (SEPFOPE) and the National Commission against Child Labor (NCCL/CNTI) education and awareness-raising program targeted at children in five primary schools in Dili who have been identified as at risk for involvement in child labor. In 2014, the campaign reached an estimated 500 students.(11)

As-needed shelter for victims of human trafficking‡

Ministry of Social Solidarity (MSS)-funded shelter operated by the Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor (PRADET). Offers services for victims of human trafficking.(7, 29, 31)

Anti-Trafficking Awareness Raising and Training†

MSS and Alola Foundation partnership program to raise awareness and conduct trainings to combat human trafficking in Timor-Leste.(11) In 2014, awareness raising and education campaigns reached more than 2,500 students in seven districts.(9)

The Mother's Purse (Bolsa da Mae)*‡

MSS program that provides an annual cash subsidy of $60 to $180 maximum to poor families with a female head of household. Aims to improve the well-being of children by conditioning the subsidy on children's school attendance and their regular medical visits.(11, 20) The number of families served increased from 15,000 in 2013 to 55,000 in 2014. Technical assistance provided by the UNDP.(11)

School Feeding Program*‡

Government program to provide one hot meal per day to children in school, reaching about 325,000 students.(1)

* The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
† Program was launched during the reporting period.
‡ Program is funded by the Government of Timor-Leste.

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Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Timor-Leste (Table 9).

Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including its Worst Forms

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

Ensure that hazardous work is prohibited for all children under the age of 18.

2013–2014

Ensure that laws prohibiting hazardous occupations and/or activities for children are specific enough to facilitate enforcement.

2012–2014

Enforcement

Allocate resources to adequately conduct labor inspections and investigations throughout the country, especially outside of Dili.

2012–2014

Increase the number of labor inspectors responsible for enforcing laws related to child labor in order to provide adequate coverage of the workforce.

2014

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into existing policies.

2014

Finalize the National Action Plan Against Child Labor.

2012–2014

Finalize the National Plan of Action on Trafficking in Persons.

2012–2014

Social Programs

Assess the impact that existing social programs may have on child labor.

2009–2014

 

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

2.UNICEF. Situation Analysis of Children in Timor-Leste. Dili; 2014.

3.U.S. Department of State. "Timor-Leste," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2013. Washington, DC; February 27, 2014;.

4.UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed January 16, 2015]; . Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

5.UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Origional data from Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards, 2007. Analysis received January 16, 2015. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children's work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

6.ILO. ILO Timor-Leste Newsletter, ILO, [online] April 1, 2014 [cited November 5, 2014];.

7.U.S. Embassy- Dili. reporting, February 14, 2014.

8.U. S. Department of State. "Timor-Leste," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2014. Washington, DC; June 20, 2014;.

9.U.S. Embassy- Dili. reporting, February 17, 2015.

10.U.S. Department of State official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 21, 2015.

11.U.S. Embassy- Dili. reporting, January 15, 2015.

12.Government of Timor-Leste. Labour Code, Law 4/2012, enacted 2012.

13.Government of Timor-Leste. Immigration and Asylum Act, 9, enacted 2003.

14.Government of Timor-Leste. Penal Code of Timor Leste, enacted June 7, 2009.

15.Government of Timor-Leste. Regulation of the Military Service Law, Decree-Law No 17/2009, enacted April 8, 2009.

16.Child Soldiers International. Louder Than Words: An agenda for action to end state use of child soldiers. London; September 2012.

17.Education System Framework Law, No. 14, enacted October 29, 2008.

18.Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, enacted November 28, 1975.

19.ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Timor-Leste (ratification: 2009) Published 2014; accessed April 14, 2014;.

20.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 Programa Internacional para a Eliminação do Trabalho Infantil (IPEC). Report Geneva; 2012. [source on file].

21.U.S. Embassy- Dili. reporting, January 23, 2013.

22.U.S. Embassy- Dili. reporting, December 5, 2014.

23.ILO. Identifying and Investigating Cases of Child Labour and Forced Labour: Training for Law Enforcement and Other Key Partners in Timor-Leste, ILO, [online] [cited November 5, 2014];.

24.U.S. Department of State official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 21, 2014.

25.Government of Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030. Dili; 2011.

26.Government of Timor-Leste. National Education Strategic Plan 2011-2030. Dili, Ministry of Education; 2011. .

27.Government of Timor-Leste. Child and Family Welfare System Policy Paper. Dili; November 2012. .

28.U.S. Embassy- Dili. reporting, January 21, 2012.

29.U.S. Embassy official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. January 31, 2014.

30.ILO-IPEC. Global Action Program on Child Labor Issues. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; April 2014.

31.U.S. Department of State official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. July 8, 2013.

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