Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014, 20:05 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Antigua and Barbuda

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Antigua and Barbuda, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca0120.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda created a committee to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2000.[163] The government has also expressed its commitment to conducting research on child labor.[164] Based upon a UNICEF supported study on the needs of children and families, the government is developing a National Plan of Action on Child Survival, Development, and Protection while simultaneously implementing a public education campaign on child labor through the print and electronic media.[165]

In 1994, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda revised its educational policy to improve the effectiveness of schooling.[166] Key achievements in terms of education in recent years include ensuring broad-based access to primary education for most children and providing a growing number of pre-primary education facilities for children.[167] The government has employed officers to monitor school attendance and report their findings biweekly to the Chief Education Officer and Education Officers. Children who are repeatedly absent from school may be placed in foster care, and the parents or guardians of these children may be prosecuted in court.[168] The government plans to improve data collection, monitoring, and assessment systems for education; upgrade school facilities; provide support to improve education efficiency; and make education available to children with special needs, like the growing number of bilingual children in Antigua and Barbuda, children with disabilities, and children in conflict with the law.[169]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 years in Antigua and Barbuda are unavailable, and there is limited information on the incidence and nature of child labor in the country.[170] In 2001, children as young as 13 years old were reportedly involved in an organized prostitution and pornography ring.[171]

Education is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 5 and 16 years.[172]

According to UNICEF, most children enjoy access to primary education, however there are no nationally available enrollment statistics for Antigua and Barbuda.[173] Spanish-speaking children, children with disabilities, young mothers, and other children with special educational needs, face barriers to accessing primary education.[174]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code, Division E of 1975, sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years.[175] The provisions also establish that children less than 16 years of age cannot work more than 8 hours in a 24-hour time period or during school hours.[176] Children between the ages of 14 and 18 years must obtain a medical examination prior to employment.[177] The Constitution prohibits slavery and forced labor.[178]

The Sexual Offences Act of 1995 raised the age of consent in Antigua and Barbuda from 14 to 16 years of age. The Sexual Offences Act also prohibits prostitution, including child prostitution and makes the offense punishable with a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonement.[179] There is no comprehensive law prohibiting trafficking in persons; however, existing laws on prostitution and labor provide a legal framework to prosecute individuals for trafficking offenses.[180] In addition, the Offences Against the Person Act, Cap. 58 offers some protection to children who are sold, trafficked, or abducted against their own will and wishes of their parents.[181]

The Ministry of Labor is required to conduct periodic inspections of workplaces.[182] The police and social welfare departments investigate the criminal and social aspects of child labor.[183] In August 2001, a case implicating high-ranking members of society in a child pornography and prostitution ring was prosecuted in court.[184]

Antigua and Barbuda ratified ILO Convention 138 on March 17, 1983 and ILO Convention 182 on September 16, 2002.[185]


[163] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Antigua and Barbuda, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18316.htm.

[164] Representatives from Antigua and Barbuda attended the ILO Caribbean Tripartite Meeting on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in December 1999, and based on what was learned at the meeting, they expressed a need to reassess the country's situation with regard to child labor sectors in prostitution and drug trafficking. See U.S. Embassy-Bridgetown, unclassified telegram 1773, September 11, 2001. See also Labour Commissioner of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, letter to USDOL official, October 18, 2001.

[165] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Antigua and Barbuda, Section 5. See also Lionel Hurst, letter to USDOL official, October 18, 2001.

[166] In 1990 Ministers of Education from the eight member countries that make up the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) met and established a regional educational reform agenda. According to the OECS Reform Strategy, areas for reform included education management, teacher and administrator training, and inadequate educational facilities including textbooks and learning materials. Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and Community Development official, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Antigua and Barbuda, UNESCO, 2000 [cited June 28, 2003], Analytic Section 2.2.4; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/antigua_barbuda/rapport_1.html.

[167] UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean Area Office, [online] 2001 [cited August 14, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef-cao.org/publications/Reports/PromiseToCaribbeanChildren/AntiguaBarbuda.html.

[168] Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and official, EFA 2000 Report: Antigua and Barbuda, Analytic Section 2.2.1.

[169] UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda. See also Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and official, EFA 2000 Report: Antigua and Barbuda, Sections 2.3.4.2, 2.2.3.

[170] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003. From general observation, children over twelve years old do engage in part time employment particularly during summer holidays, generally with parental consent and with the right to utilize their earnings independently. See Government of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda National Report on Follow Up to the World Summit for Children and Lima Accord, St. Johns, 2000, 7.

[171] Given the economy's heavy reliance on tourism, government officials could not rule out the possibility of child prostitution or the involvement of children in drug trafficking. See Hurst, letter dated October 18, 2001. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Antigua and Barbuda, Section 5.

[172] According to the 1973 Education Act, it is mandatory for government to provide education to children between the ages of five and sixteen years. Thirty of the 55 primary schools in Antigua and Barbuda are public schools where schooling is free. The government also provides free textbooks and schooling supplies to private schools through the Board of Education. See Ministry of Education, Youth, Sport, and official, EFA 2000 Report: Antigua and Barbuda, Descriptive Section 1.0, 1.3.

[173] Government of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda National Report, 13.

[174] UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda.

[175] Hurst, letter dated October 18, 2001, U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, Government of Antigua and Barbuda, West Indies, 2001, 54-55; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu2/6/crc/doc/report/srf-a&b-1.pdf.

[176] Ibid.

[177] U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 55.

[178] Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda, Chapter II, Article 6, (1981); available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Antigua/ab81.html.

[179] Sexual Offenses Act, Part II, 1995 1995; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/vt/2.htm. U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 12.

[180] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Antigua and Barbuda, Section 6f.

[181] U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 57.

[182] There is an Inspectorate in the Labor Commissioner's Office that handles exploitative child labor matters. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Antigua and Barbuda, Section 6d.

[183] Hurst, letter dated October 18, 2001.

[184] Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Antigua and Barbuda, Section 5.

[185] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited August 25, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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