Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Samoa

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Samoa, 22 September 2005, available at: [accessed 31 July 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 Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138N/A[3502]
Ratified Convention 182N/A
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for ChildrenX
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Samoa are unavailable.[3503] Children are found working in rural areas selling agricultural products at roadside stands[3504] and as vendors of goods and food on the streets of the capital.[3505] There were no reports of bonded labor by children, but some children are forced by family members to work for their village, most frequently on village farms.[3506]

Education in Samoa is compulsory through 14 years of age.[3507] Education requirements are not enforced by authorities, and an inability to pay school fees prevents some children from attending school.[3508] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 102.6 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 94.9 percent.[3509] Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Recent primary school attendance statistics are not available for Samoa. As of 2000, 93.8 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.[3510]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor and Employment Act of 1972 sets the minimum age of employment at 15 years except in "safe and light" work suited to the child's capacities.[3511] A child under the age of 15 is not permitted to work with dangerous machinery; under conditions that are likely to harm physical or moral health; or on a vessel that is not under the personal charge of his or her parent or guardian.[3512] The Constitution prohibits forced or bonded labor;[3513] however, work or service that is required by Samoan custom or fulfills a "normal civic obligation" is not prohibited.[3514]

The Penal Code makes prostitution and the procurement of women and girls illegal in Samoa.[3515] The kidnapping of an individual with the intent to transport the individual out of the country or hold the individual for service is a crime and is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.[3516] In addition, it is against the law to abduct any child under the age of 16 years, and to detain or take away any woman or girl with intent to cause her to have sexual intercourse with any other person.[3517] The Commissioner of Labor is responsible for responding to complaints about illegal child labor.[3518] Situations requiring enforcement of law are referred to the Attorney General.[3519]

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

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development developed its Strategic Plan for the National Youth Policy: 2001-2010 (Taking Youth into the New Millennium).[3520] The policy addresses strategic areas of education and training, and youth employment.[3521] The primary economic and social development plan in Samoa is the government's Strategy for the Development of Samoa (2002-2004), which includes activities for improving education standards in the country.[3522] In support of this strategy, AusAID is providing funding through 2004 for school materials; teacher training and resources for grades one through three; and to support the Samoan Department of Education's efforts to manage educational reforms.[3523] In partnership with the ILO and the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, UNDP is providing funds outlined in its 2004-2007 country program to support the establishment of the Samoa Qualifications Authority that will set education standards to meet labor market demands, and develop a policy framework for an education system that is responsive to market needs.[3524]

In support of the Ministry of Education, the Asian Development Bank approved a loan for USD 7 million to finance an Education Sector Project in Samoa.[3525] This project aims to rehabilitate and expand 25 to 30 schools, develop curriculum, improve teachers' skills and reform the public education management system.[3526]

[3502] The Government of Samoa is not a member of the ILO, and is thus unable to ratify ILO conventions.

[3503] LABORSTAT, 1A-Total and economically actively active population, by age group (Thousands) [database online] Geneva, 2004 [cited September 2004]; available from

[3504] U.S. Embassy-Apia, unclassified telegram no. 0195, October 2001.

[3505] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Samoa, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6d; available from

[3506] Ibid.

[3507] Ibid., Section 5.

[3508] Ibid.

[3509] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004. For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definitions of gross primary enrollment rate and gross primary attendance rate in the glossary of this report.

[3510] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004.

[3511] Employment is subject to the conditions decided by the Commissioner of Labor. Government of Samoa, Labour and Employment Act, (1972), para. 32; available from

[3512] Ibid.

[3513] Constitution of the Independent State of Western Samoa, (May 1, 1920), Part II, para. 8; available from

[3514] Ibid., Part II, para 8(2)d.

[3515] Receiving income from the prostitution of another person or soliciting for a prostitute regardless of whether compensation is received, is illegal under the Samoan Penal Code. See Government of Samoa, Crimes Ordinance, (January 1, 1961), para 58L, 58M; available from

[3516] Ibid., Article 83 A.

[3517] The crime is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment. See Ibid., Articles 83 and 83 B.

[3518] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Samoa, Section 6d.

[3519] No cases were prosecuted during 2003. See Ibid.

[3520] See Youth and Gender Sensitive Public Expenditure Management in the Pacific and Samoa Pacific Project, Government References – Samoa [online] 2002 [cited May 18, 2004]; available from

[3521] The policy was launched in February 2003. "Youth" are defined between 12 and 29 years of age. See UN, Youth at the United Nations: Country Profiles on the Situation of Youth: Samoa [online] 2002 [cited April 25, 2004]; available from See also Youth and Gender Sensitive Public Expenditure Management in the Pacific and Samoa Pacific Project, Samoa 2002-2003 Diary [online] 2002 [cited May 18, 2004]; available from

[3522] AusAID is the Australian government's overseas aid program. AusAID, Samoa Program Details [online] April 5, 2004 [cited May 18, 2004]; available from

[3523] Ibid.

[3524] UNDP, Samoa Country Programme 2004-2007 [online] 2004 [cited May 18, 2004]; available from

[3525] An estimated 12,000 primary and secondary school children will benefit from the project. See ADB, Giving Children of Samoa a Better Education September 5, 2000 [cited April 25, 2004]; available from

[3526] Ibid.

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