Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Tonga

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

Tonga

2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2016, Tonga made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Tonga joined the International Labor Organization in February 2016. Although research is limited, there is evidence that some children are reportedly engaged in the worst forms of child labor, in forced domestic work. Gaps in the legal framework remain; the country has no laws specifying a minimum age for work or defining hazardous forms of work for children under age 18, leaving children unprotected from labor exploitation. The Government has not established a coordinating mechanism, policy, or program to address child labor, including its worst forms.

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Although research is limited, there is evidence that children in Tonga, reportedly, engage in the worst forms of child labor, in forced domestic work.(1-3) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Tonga. Data on some of these indicators are not available from the sources used in this report.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education

Children

Age

Percent

Working (% and population)

5 to 14

Unavailable

Attending School (%)

5 to 14

Unavailable

Combining Work and School (%)

7 to 14

Unavailable

Primary Completion Rate (%)

 

110.9

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2013, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2016.(4)
Data were unavailable from Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis, 2016.(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

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

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

Forced domestic work (1, 2)

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

Tonga has ratified one key international convention 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 Tonga'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

 

 

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

No

 

 

Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children

No

 

 

Prohibition of Forced Labor

No

 

Sections 69–70 of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime Act (6)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

Yes

 

Section 69 of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime Act (6)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

No

 

Sections 115A and 125–126 of the Criminal Offences Act (7)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

No

 

 

Minimum Age for Military Recruitment

 

 

 

State Compulsory

Yes*

18

Section 25 of the Defense Services Act (8)

State Voluntary

Yes

16

Section 25 of the Defense Services Act (8)

Non-state Compulsory

No

 

 

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

18

Section 98 of the Education Act 2013 (9)

Free Public Education

No

 

Section 95 of the Education Act 2013 (9)

* No conscription (8)

Tonga joined the International Labor Organization in February 2016.(10, 11)

The Parliament has yet to pass the Employment Relations Bill, which would establish a minimum age for non-hazardous and hazardous work and would prohibit the categorical worst forms of child labor. In addition, the Parliament has not determined the types of hazardous work prohibited for children.(12-14)

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime Act is insufficient because it does not specifically prohibit trafficking children domestically, nor does it criminally prohibit forced labor, debt bondage, and slavery, unless they involve human trafficking.(1, 6)

The Criminal Offences Act prohibits the procurement of women and girls under age 21 for prostitution but does not criminalize the procurement of boys for prostitution.(15) In addition, the Act does not sufficiently prohibit commercial sexual exploitation, because the use of children under age 14 in the production of pornography is not criminally prohibited. The Act also does not specifically prohibit using children in illicit activities, particularly for producing and trafficking drugs.(7, 15, 16)

Although it does not appear that there are any laws that provide free basic education, there is a policy that sufficiently provides for free basic education to all children between the ages of 6 and 14.(17)

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, Consumer, Innovation, and Labor

Enforce labor laws, including those relating to child labor and the worst forms of child labor.(18)

Tongan Police, Transnational Crime Unit, and Domestic Violence Unit

Enforce criminal laws relating to the worst forms of child labor.(14)

Ministry of Internal Affairs, Immigration Department

Collaborate with Tongan police and the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism, and Labor on the enforcement of criminal laws in cases in which foreign nationals are involved in the worst forms of child labor.(18)

Although the Ministry of Commerce, Consumer, Innovation, and Labor recognizes that more inspectors are needed to target sectors in which child labor is present, inadequate resources prevent it from doing so.(14, 19)

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2016, labor law enforcement agencies in Tonga did not take 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

2015

2016

Labor Inspectorate Funding

Unknown (20)

Unknown

Number of Labor Inspectors

Unknown

Unknown

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

Unknown

Unknown

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

Unknown

Number of Labor Inspections

Unknown

Unknown

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

Unknown

Number of Penalties Imposed that Were Collected

Unknown

Unknown

Routine Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Routine Inspections Targeted

Unknown

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Unknown

Unknown

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Unknown

Unknown

Complaint Mechanism Exists

No (18)

No (14)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

No (18)

No (14)

Although Tonga has no formal child labor legislation, business license inspectors look for children engaged in the worst forms of child labor during their inspections. If there is a specific complaint, then the Chief Labor Inspector visits the site, conducts an investigation, and requests police involvement if necessary.(14)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2016, criminal law enforcement agencies in Tonga did not take 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

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

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Violations Found

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Convictions

Unknown

Unknown

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (18)

Yes (14)

The Government did not employ specific investigators to enforce laws against the worst forms of child labor.(14)

Research found no evidence that the Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms.

The Government has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Key Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

Tonga Education Policy Framework (2004-2019)

Aims to build the capacity of the Ministry of Education, improve school quality, and achieve universal primary education.(21, 22)

The Government has not included child labor elimination and prevention strategies into the Tonga Education Policy Framework.

Research found no evidence that the Government funded or participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms.

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

Table 9. 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 and the Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons.

2013 – 2016

Ratify ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor, and the UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict.

2016

Establish labor regulations that include a minimum age of 14 for employment and a minimum age of 18 for hazardous work, in accordance with international standards.

2009 – 2016

Ensure that hazardous occupations or activities are prohibited for children.

2009 – 2016

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits forced labor, including debt bondage and slavery.

2015 – 2016

Ensure that laws specifically prohibit domestic human trafficking of children and the use of children in illicit activities, including in the production and trafficking of drugs.

2014 – 2016

Ensure that laws prohibit all forms of commercial sexual exploitation for both girls and boys under the age of 18.

2009 – 2016

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

2016

Establish by law free basic public education.

2016

Enforcement

Publish information on labor law and criminal law enforcement activities, efforts, and relevant data.

2014 – 2016

Establish a mechanism for reporting child labor complaints and ensure that labor inspectors have the training and resources necessary to respond to child labor complaints.

2013 – 2016

Provide criminal investigators with the training and resources necessary to enforce laws prohibiting the worst forms of child labor.

2013 – 2016

Establish referral mechanisms among the labor inspectorate, the police, and social welfare services to protect and rehabilitate children involved in child labor, including its worst forms.

2014 – 2016

Increase the number of labor inspectors trained and responsible for targeting sectors in which child labor is present.

2016

Coordination

Establish a coordinating mechanism to combat the worst forms of child labor.

2009 – 2016

Government Policies

Integrate child labor elimination and prevention strategies into this policy.

2016

Social Programs

Implement programs to address child labor in domestic work.

2010 – 2016

1.           U.S. Department of State. "Tonga," in Trafficking in Persons Report- 2016. Washington, DC; June 30, 2016; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2016/index.htm.

2.           U.S. Department of State. "Tonga," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2016. Washington, DC; March 3, 2016; https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper.

3.           U.S. Embassy- Suva official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 25, 2017.

4.           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 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.

5.           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 the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" in the Reference Materials section of this report.

6.           Government of Tonga. Counter Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime Act 2013, enacted 2013. http://www.crownlaw.gov.to/cms/images/LEGISLATION/PRINCIPAL/2013/2013-0017/CounterTerrorismandTransnationalOrganisedCrimeAct2013_1.pdf.

7.           Government of Tonga. Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act 2003, enacted 2003. http://crownlaw.gov.to/cms/images/LEGISLATION/AMENDING/2003/2003-0006/CriminalOffencesAmendmentAct2003.pdf.

8.           Government of Tonga. Tonga Defence Services Act 1992 Act 17 of 1992, enacted 1992. http://crownlaw.gov.to/cms/images/LEGISLATION/PRINCIPAL/1992/1992-0017/TongaDefenceServicesAct1992_1.pdf.

9.           Government of Tonga. Education Act 2013, enacted February 26, 2014. http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/98654/117468/F-2000392432/TON98654.pdf.

10.         U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, December 22, 2016.

11.         ILO. Kingdom of Tonga becomes 187th ILO member State,, ILO, [online] February 25, 2016 [cited November 2, 2016]; http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_455305/lang--en/index.htm.

12.         Government of Tonga. Employment Relations Bill enacted [draft]. http://www.mctl.gov.to/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Final-Draft-ERB-2013-April-20131-19Apr13.pdf.

13.         Government of Tonga. Submission Re: Child Labor in Tonga. Nuku'alofa; 2014. [Source on file].

14.         U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, December 19, 2016.

15.         Government of Tonga. Criminal Offences Act, enacted 1988. http://www.paclii.org/to/legis/consol_act/co136/.

16.         U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, January 15, 2015.

17.         Government of Tonga. Tonga Education Policy Framework 2004-2019. Ministry of Education, 2004. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/en/2004/tonga-education-policy-framework-2004-2019-final-draft-5353.

18.         U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, January 4, 2016.

19.         U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, February 6, 2017.

20.         U.S. Embassy- Suva official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 31, 2016.

21.         U.S. Embassy- Suva. reporting, January 31, 2013.

22.         Ministry of Education. Tonga Education Policy Framework 20042019; Nuku'alofa; April 2004. http://planipolis.iiep.unesco.org/upload/Tonga/Tonga_Final-draft_policy_framework_2004-2019.pdf.

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