Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Cameroon

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Cameroon, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa464c.html [accessed 25 April 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor614
Working children, 10-14 years (%), 2001:15.9
Working boys, 10-14 years (%), 2001:14.5
Working girls, 10-14 years (%), 2001:17.4
Working children by sector, 10-14 years (%), 2001:
     – Agriculture88.2
     – Manufacturing2.1
     – Services7.1
     – Other2.6
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:14
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:109
Net primary enrollment rate (%):
School attendance, children 10-14 years (%), 2001:84.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:64
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Cameroon work in agriculture and the informal sector. Children work in fisheries, raising livestock, and on family cocoa farms.615 In urban areas, children work in the informal sector as street vendors (selling goods such as tissues and water), car washers, and domestic servants.616 A large number of displaced children reside in urban areas, including Yaoundé, and Douala, and perform work in the informal sector.617 Children may also work in mines, and a number of girls are forced into commercial sexual exploitation.618

Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for the trafficking of children for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. However, most of the trafficking in Cameroon occurs internally.619 Girls are trafficked from Adamawa, North, Far North, and Northwest provinces to Douala and Yaoundé to work as street vendors, domestic servants, and for commercial sexual exploitation. Boys and girls are trafficked internally for forced labor in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, and on tea plantations.620 Children are trafficked from Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo, Benin, and Niger for forced labor in street vending and agriculture. Cameroon also serves as a country of transit for children trafficked between Gabon and Nigeria, and from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia.621

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for admission to work in Cameroon is 14 years, which is the same minimum age for entering into an apprenticeship.622 Children are prohibited from working at night; moving heavy weights; performing dangerous and unhealthy tasks; or working in confined areas.623 Children are prohibited from working longer than 8 hours a day.624 The law specifies that children cannot work in any job that exceeds their physical capacity, and the Labor Inspectors can require child laborers to take a medical exam to determine if such a situation exists.625 Violations of child labor provisions are punishable by fines.626

The law prohibits slavery and servitude.627 The penalty for a person who subjects a child to debt bondage is 5 to 10 years in prison and a fine.628 Cameroon's anti-trafficking law defines child trafficking as the act of moving or helping to move a child within or outside Cameroon to reap financial or material benefit.629 The law requires authorization from a parent in order for a child to travel.630 Under the law, individuals who traffic or enslave a child are subject to the punishment of a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years and a fine; if the child is under 15 years or if the offender is the victim's parent, the punishment increases to 15 to 20 years of imprisonment.631

Cameroonian law prohibits procuring prostitutes or sharing the profits from another person's prostitution, and sets the penalty as a fine and imprisonment for 6 months to 5 years, which may double if the crime involves a person less than 21 years.632 Military service is not compulsory in Cameroon. The minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 18 years, although volunteering before 18 years is permitted with parental consent.633

Cameroon was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.634 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.635

The country has 58 labor inspectors who are responsible for investigating child labor cases.636

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

In May of 2008, the Minister of Social Affairs launched a program to support 150 street children, which also returns them to their families. In June, the Government signed an Anti-Sex Tourism Charter that outlines ethics rules for tourist activity management. The Minister of Social Affairs continued to participate in a project with France and UNICEF that aims to establish a legal protection system for children.637

The Government appoints Child Parliamentarians to provide recommendations on issues related to children. While resolutions by the Child Parliamentarians are not legally binding, in 2007, the Child Parliamentarians passed resolutions to distribute information on legal provisions for children, strengthen infrastructure to support child victims of trafficking, and integrate child rights into school curriculum.638 During 2007, the Government continued its awareness raising activities to prevent child labor. In addition, the Government also continued to work with

UNICEF and local and international NGOs to assist trafficking victims by placing them in temporary shelters.639

USAID and the international cocoa industry continued to fund the Sustainable Tree Crops Program in Cameroon, a public-private partnership that promotes sustainable tree crop systems including coffee, cocoa, and cashews, and contains a component to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labor on farms.640


614 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see U.S. Department of State, "Cameroon," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/c25283.htm.

615 Ibid., section 6d.

616 Ibid. See also Mengue M. Therese, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Cameroon, July 2006, 8; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/pdf/Cameroon/Cameroon_CSEC_Report%20_Eng.pdf. See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 21.

617 International Trade Union Confederation, Internationally-Recognized Core Labour Standards in Gabon and Cameroon: Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of Gabon and Cameroon, Geneva, October 2 and 4, 2007, 8. See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, 21.

618 U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 21. See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 24, 2008.

619 U.S. Department of State, "Cameroon (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm.

620 Ibid. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants aux Fins d'Exploitation de leur Travail au Cameroun, Geneva, 2005, section 2.2.2; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=5170. See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 21. See also International Trade Union Confederation, Review of the Trade Policies of Gabon and Cameroon, 10. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cameroon," section 5 and 6d.

621 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cameroon." See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants section 2.2.2. See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 21. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cameroon."

622 Government of Cameroon, Labour Code, Law no. 92/007, (August 14, 1992), section 86(1); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/31629/64867/E92CMR01.htm.

623 Ibid., section 82(2). See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cameroon," section 6d.

624 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cameroon," section 6d.

625 Government of Cameroon, Labor Code, section 87.

626 Ibid., section 167.

627 Government of Cameroon, Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Law no. 96-06, (January 18, 1996), article 4. See also Government of Cameroon, Labor Code, section 2(3).

628 Government of Cameroon, Law relating to the Fight against Child Trafficking and Slavery, Law No. 2005/015, (December 29, 2005), chapter II, section 3.

629 Ibid., chapter I, section 2.

630 Government of Cameroon, Document d'Information sur les Mesures de lutte contre les Pires Formes de Travail des Enfants au Cameroon, Submitted in Response to U.S. Department of Labor Federal Register Notice (November 8, 2007) "Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor", April 30, 2008.

631 Government of Cameroon, Law relating to the Fight against Child Trafficking and Slavery, chapter II, sections 4-5.

632 The Protection Project, "Cameroon," in 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Washington, DC, 2005; available from http://www.protectionproject.org.

633 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Cameroon," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/home.

634 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2006, 2.

635 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, Technical Progress Report, 10-11.

636 U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 6.

637 Ibid., para 2, 4, 10, 15, and 20. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cameroon," section 5.

638 U.S. Embassy – Yaounde, reporting, November 30, 2007, para 11. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cameroon," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Yaounde official, E-mail communication, July 24, 2008.

639 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cameroon," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cameroon." See also Government of Cameroon, Response to FRN, April 30, 2008.

640 USAID, Chocolate Companies Help West African Farmers Improve Harvest, Washington, DC, September 2005; available from http://www.usaid.gov/press/frontlines/fl_sep05/pillars.htm. See also International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Tree Crops Program, [online] n.d. [cited December 13, 2007]; available from http://www.treecrops.org/index.htm. See also World Cocoa Foundation, Sustainable Tree Crops Program – Cameroon, [online] n.d. [cited December 31, 2007]; available from http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/difference/STCPCameroon_Summary.asp.

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