Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - West Bank and the Gaza Strip

Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports

West Bank and the Gaza Strip

2016 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement

In 2016, the Palestinian Authority made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the areas of the West Bank under its control. The Palestinian Authority took steps to enforce child labor laws and improve coordination among government agencies in their work to address child labor, including its worst forms. However, children in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in construction and illicit activities. The legal framework does not criminally prohibit all elements of child trafficking. In addition, programs to prevent or eliminate child labor in agriculture and street work are insufficient.

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Children in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in construction and illicit activities.(1-7) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 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 (%)

 

95.5

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

Cultivating asparagus, dates, eggplants, onions, sweet peppers, grapes, tomatoes, and marijuana (4, 10-18)

Fishing,† including working on fishing boats and repairing nets (1, 2, 4, 5, 19, 20)

Raising livestock, including poultry and sheep (2, 4, 21)

Industry

Construction,† including demolishing buildings and collecting rubble and gravel for construction purposes (1-5)

Manufacturing, including working in pottery workshops (2, 3, 5)

Blacksmithing† (2)

Services

Street vending and portering (2-5, 22)

Working in auto body shops and metal workshops (2-4, 22)

Working in shops, restaurants, bakeries, or hotels (2, 5, 19, 22)

Transporting goods (4, 23)

Collecting scrap metal, cement bricks, and solid waste† (1, 2, 16, 21)

Scavenging garbage, steel, and gravel at trash pits (19, 24, 25)

Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡

Use in illicit activities, including smuggling drugs and food (4-7)

Begging as a result of human trafficking (26)

Commercial sexual exploitation (21)

† 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.

There are reports of child trafficking from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into Israel, primarily for forced begging.(6, 21, 27) Children are vulnerable to child labor in the agricultural sector, partly because the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not have jurisdiction to enforce laws in Area C's agricultural fields and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There are reports of child labor in Israeli agricultural settlements in the Jordan Valley, where children work in excessive heat and are exposed to dangerous pesticides.(5, 7, 10, 16-18) The PA has documented cases in which child laborers were injured at work in the settlements and taken to hospitals in the West Bank.(5)

In the Gaza Strip, many school structures, which had been damaged, destroyed, or repurposed during the war of 2014, have not been repaired or replaced.(5) Insecurity also hinders children's access to schools.(28, 29) Schools are overcrowded, poorly equipped, and at times unhygienic or susceptible to weather conditions.(30-32) Violence and discrimination by teachers against students who work, as well as the cost of transportation, contribute to a school dropout rate of 16 percent.(33, 34) According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), settler violence, military operations, delays at checkpoints, and school closures also limit access to education for Palestinian children.(35, 36)

The PA has Non-Member Observer status at the UN. In April 2014, PA officials presented letters of accession to 15 UN treaties to UN officials, including the UN CRC and its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor

Convention

Ratification

ILO C. 138, Minimum Age

N/A

ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor

N/A

UN CRC

UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict

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

N/A

Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

N/A

 

The PA has established laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4). However, gaps exist in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip’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

Yes

15

Article 93 of the Labor Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; Article 14 of the Palestinian Child Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (37, 38)

Minimum Age for Hazardous Work

Yes

18

Article 95 of the Labor Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (38)

Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children

Yes

 

Article 1 of Minister of Labor's Decree on Hazardous Work for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (39)

Prohibition of Forced Labor

Yes

 

Article 1 of Minister of Labor's Decree on Hazardous Work for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (39)

Prohibition of Child Trafficking

No

 

Article 1 of Minister of Labor's Decree on Hazardous Work for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (39)

Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

Yes

 

Article 36 of the Palestinian Child Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; Articles 306, 310, 311, 315, and 319 of the Jordanian Penal Code for the West Bank; Articles 159 and 165 of the Palestinian Penal Code for the Gaza Strip (37, 40, 41)

Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities

Yes

 

Articles 27 and 44 of the Palestinian Child Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (37)

Minimum Age for Military Recruitment

 

 

 

State Compulsory

N/A*

 

 

State Voluntary

Yes†

18

Article 46 of the Palestinian Child Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (37)

Non-state Compulsory

No

 

Article 46 of the Palestinian Child Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (37)

Compulsory Education Age

Yes

16

Articles 3, 15, and 18 of the Palestinian Education Act for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (42)

Free Public Education

Yes

 

Article 37 of the Palestinian Child Law for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (37)

* No conscription in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (7)
† No standing military in the West Bank (7)

Although human trafficking is on the hazardous work list, the law does not criminally prohibit child trafficking in accordance with international standards.(38, 39) There are no criminal penalties for recruiting children into non-state armed groups.(37)

The PA 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 enforcement remain and some enforcement information is not available.

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement

Organization/Agency

Role

Ministry of Labor (MOL), Labor Inspection Office

Enforce labor laws, including those related to child labor.(43)

Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA), Child Protection Department

Protect children's rights, including through the provision of services to children found involved in the worst forms of child labor.(44)

Police

Investigate violations of criminal laws, including the commercial sexual exploitation of children.(44)

Office of the Attorney General

Prosecute cases of child exploitation, including child labor.(44)

 

In the West Bank, under the terms of the Oslo-era agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli Government, the PA has civil law jurisdiction in the areas of the West Bank designated Area A and Area B, which represent approximately 39 percent of the West Bank's land area and contain approximately 94 percent of the Palestinian population. The Israeli Government has control over the city of Jerusalem and Area C; the latter represents 61 percent of the West Bank's land area and approximately 6 percent of the Palestinian population, as well as the vast majority of the West Bank's agricultural areas where many Palestinian children work.(43, 45-48) Since the 2007 takeover in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, the PA has not had enforcement capabilities in the Gaza Strip, despite the creation of the PA interim consensus government in 2014.(43, 45, 49)

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2016, PA labor law enforcement agencies in the West Bank 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

2015

2016

Labor Inspectorate Funding

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Labor Inspectors

53 (21)

67 (48)

Number of Child Labor Dedicated Inspectors

6 (21)

18 (48)

Inspectorate Authorized to Assess Penalties

No (50)

No (5)

Training for Labor Inspectors

 

 

Initial Training for New Employees

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

Training on New Laws Related to Child Labor

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

Number of Labor Inspections

5,180 (46)

4,200 (5)

Number Conducted at Worksite

5,180 (46)

4,200 (5)

Number Conducted by Desk Reviews

0 (21)

0 (5)

Number of Child Labor Violations Found

359 (48)

202 (48)

Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed

Unknown

Unknown

Number of Penalties Imposed That Were Collected

Unknown

Unknown (51)

Routine Inspections Conducted

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

Routine Inspections Targeted

Yes (21)

Yes (5)

Unannounced Inspections Permitted

Yes (50)

Yes (50)

Unannounced Inspections Conducted

Yes (21)

Yes (5)

Complaint Mechanism Exists

Yes (21)

Yes (21)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services

Yes (21)

Yes (21)

 

The Ministry of Labor previously reported that they are unable to inspect as many businesses per year as required by the Labor Law due to inadequate funding.(5, 21)

Criminal Law Enforcement

In 2016, PA criminal law enforcement agencies in the West Bank 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

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

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

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

Refresher Courses Provided

Yes (21)

Yes (51)

Number of Investigations

14 (46)

40 (51)

Number of Violations Found

119 (46)

40 (51)

Number of Prosecutions Initiated

8 (21)

3 (51)

Number of Convictions

Unknown (21)

0 (5)

Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services

Yes (21)

Yes (21)

 

In 2016, the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) provided training to judges, police officers, and social workers. PA officials stated that inadequate resources, including limited training, hampered their capacity to enforce criminal laws related to the worst forms of child labor. Three cases of prosecution related to the worst forms of child labor were pending at the end of 2016.(5)

The PA has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms, in the West Bank (Table 8).

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

Coordinating Body

Role & Description

National Committee on Child Labor

Create national policy on child labor. Led by the MOL and includes representatives from four other ministries, as well as international organizations.(23) In 2016, the Committee met regularly, which, together with the efforts of MOSA Child Protection Networks, resulted in improved coordination among government agencies.(5)

MOSA Child Protection Networks

Coordinate at the district level between service providers, law enforcement, and the Attorney General to protect vulnerable children, including those involved in child labor.(44, 52) Composed of MOSA, other PA agencies, and international organizations. The role of some agencies is to provide services to vulnerable children, while others ensure that crimes against children are prosecuted in accordance with the law.(44, 52)

 

The PA has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms, in the West Bank (Table 9).

Table 9. Key Policies Related to Child Labor

Policy

Description

National Development Plan (2014–2016)

Aimed to improve the living standards of residents, including through alleviating poverty and reducing unemployment. Included components to better regulate the economic activities of working children and remove more child laborers from the labor market.(53) Research was unable to determine whether activities were undertaken to implement the National Development Plan during the reporting period.

 

Although the PA has adopted the National Development Plan, research found no evidence of a policy that includes all worst forms of child labor.

In 2016, the PA funded and 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

MOSA Social Protection Programs†

MOSA programs in the West Bank that provide cash assistance, health insurance, and free education.(52) Families are assessed for eligibility; one of the goals is to prevent families from resorting to child labor. MOSA and the Ministry of Education also make efforts to ensure that children who have dropped out are sent back to school.(52)

MOSA Vocational Centers†

MOSA program in the West Bank that operates 13 vocational centers for children who have dropped out of school.(44)

UN Education Programs

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) programs that provide educational support for children and youth in refugee camps, and microfinance and other forms of support to families in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.(54) In 2016, UNICEF provided protective presence to children as they commuted to school, as harassment on the way to school in Area C of the West Bank is a key barrier to education. UNICEF also rehabilitated school buildings in the Gaza Strip.(55)

† Program is partially funded by the PA.
‡ In 2016, the PA had other social programs that may have included the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms.(56)

MOSA previously indicated that additional educational programs are needed in order to address child labor, but it lacked sufficient funding to implement them.(21) Although there are programs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to fully address the extent of the problem, including in agriculture and street work.

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

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

Area

Suggested Action

Year(s) Suggested

Legal Framework

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

2016

Ensure that the law criminally prohibits all stages of human trafficking, trafficking for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation, and both domestic and international trafficking, in accordance with international standards.

2015 – 2016

 

Enforcement

Ensure that child labor laws are enforced in the Gaza Strip.

2010 – 2016

Publish information on the labor inspectorate, including the amount of funding, the number of child labor violations for which penalties were issued, and whether penalties were collected.

2010 – 2016

Authorize the labor inspectorate to assess penalties.

2016

Provide further resources and staff to the MOL and MOSA to conduct inspections, and to provide further training on the worst forms of child labor.

2010 – 2016

Government Policies

Implement the National Development Plan.

2016

Adopt a policy that addresses all worst forms of child labor, such as the use of children in illicit activities.

2016

Social Programs

Expand programs to improve access to education.

2011 – 2016

Expand programs to further combat child labor, specifically in agriculture and street work.

2010 – 2016

 

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2.         Terre des hommes and Democracy and Workers' Rights Center in Palestine. Baseline study on “Determinants and Consequences of Child Labor and Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Gaza Strip” (Empirical study); May 2013.

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8.         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.

9.         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.

10.       Human Rights Watch. Ripe for Abuse: Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank; April 13, 2015. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2015/04/13/ripe-abuse.

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16.       Shuttleworth, K. "Gaza's children forced to work for a pittance amid war-torn ruins; After three wars in six years, Gaza has the world's highest unemployment rate, and children from families in dire poverty are sent out to work in the rubble." The Guardian, London, December 23, 2016. [source on file].

17.       Vickery, M. "Child labour: Palestinian teenagers 'work for $18 per day' on Israeli settlements." International Business Times New York City, March 14, 2016. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/child-labour-palestinian-teenagers-work-18-per-day-west-bank-israeli-settlements-1549361.

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21.       U.S. Consulate General- Jerusalem. reporting January 22, 2016.

22.       El-Namey, I. "Israel’s bombs and blockade cause child labor to rise in Gaza." The Electronic Intifada [online] September 11, 2015 [cited December 28, 2015]; https://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-bombs-and-blockade-cause-child-labor-rise-gaza/14834.

23.       U.S. Consulate General- Jerusalem. reporting February 6, 2014.

24.       Othman, M. "Gaza’s poor rummage through garbage for food." Al-Monitor [online] June 18, 2014 [cited December 19, 2014]; http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/gaza-poor-dumpster-diving-food.html.

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27.       U.S. Embassy- Tel Aviv. reporting March 20, 2017.

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29.       Al-Jazeera. "Teacher films Israeli raid on West Bank primary school." [online] October 27, 2015 [cited December 28, 2015]; http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/10/teacher-films-israeli-raid-west-bank-primary-school-151027184226595.html.

30.       MA'AN Development Center. Parallel Realities: Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Communities in the Jordan Valley; 2012. http://www.cie.ugent.be/Palestina/maanreport.pdf.

31.       Abou Jalal, R. "Gaza war leaves students with ruined classrooms." Al-Monitor [online] November 22, 2014 [cited December 19, 2014]; http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/gaza-war-israel-shelling-schools.html.

32.       Abrahams, F. Dispatches: Dreading School in Gaza; July 9, 2015. https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/07/09/dispatches-dreading-school-gaza.

33.       UNICEF. Effects of the Palestinian National Cash Transfer Programme on children and adolescents: A mixed methods analysis; April 2014. http://www.unicef.org/oPt/ODI_and_UNICEF_Palestinian_Cash_Transfer_Study.pdf.

34.       UNICEF. Palestinian children and women in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the State of Palestine- Area programme document 2015-2016; 2014. http://www.unicef.org/about/execboard/files/2014-PL7_Palestinian_children_and_women_APD-Final_approved-EN.pdf.

35.       UNRWA. Schools on the front line: the impact of armed conflict and violence on UNRWA schools and education services. East Jerusalem; 2016. http://www.unrwa.org/sites/default/files/content/resources/schools_on_the_front_line.pdf.

36.       MA'AN Development Center. Attacks on Education: A Focus on 10 Schools in Area C; 2015. http://www.maan-ctr.org/files/server/Publications/FactSheets/AoEducation.pdf.

37.       Palestinian National Authority. Palestinian Child Law No. 7 of 2004 as amended, enacted 2012.

38.       Palestinian National Authority. Labor Law No. (7) of 2000, enacted 2000.

39.       Palestinian National Authority. Minister of Labor's Decree No. 1 of 2004 on  hazardous activities and industries or those harmful to health in which minors are not allowed to work, enacted 2004.

40.       High Commissioner for Palestine (British Mandate). Penal Code No. 74 of 1936, enacted 1936.

41.       Government of Jordan. Penal Code, Law No 16 of 1960, enacted 1960.

42.       Palestinian National Authority. Education Act No. 1 of 2013, enacted February 10, 2013.

43.       U.S. Consulate General- Jerusalem. reporting January 20, 2015.

44.       Palestinian National Authority. The Palestinian National Authority Report on the Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. London, The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and Save the Children UK.; December 2010. [source on file].

45.       U.S. Department of State. "Israel and the Occupied Territories," 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=236604.

46.       U.S. Consulate General- Jerusalem official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. June 2, 2016.

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52.       U.S. Consulate General- Jerusalem official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. July 9, 2013.

53.       Ministry of Planning and Administrative Development. National Development Plan (2014-2016); 2014. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---arabstates/---ro-beirut/documents/publication/wcms_236946.pdf.

54.       UNRWA. Where we work; 2014. http://www.unrwa.org/where-we-work.

55.       UNICEF. State of Palestine: Humanitarian Situation Report (October - December 2016); January 2017. http://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/state-palestine-humanitarian-situation-report-october-december.

56.       World Bank. "Additional Financing for Teacher Education Improvement Project: Project Paper (PAD1434)." 2015 [cited December 24, 2015]; http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2015/10/15/090224b08314b83e/1_0/Rendered/PDF/West0Bank0and00additional0financing.pdf.

 

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