Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Central African Republic

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 - Central African Republic, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca0bc.html [accessed 29 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.

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

In 1998, the Government of the Central African Republic, local NGOs and unions established a network to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.[882] The government launched a study in 2000 on the problem. Although no final report has been released, initial findings indicate a need for training for government employees involved in labor issues such as child labor.[883] The government has also created a commission to study the magnitude of trafficking in persons in the country.[884] In August 2001, the government organized a 1-week sensitization campaign on the problem of sexual exploitation in preparation for the UN World Child Summit.[885] In July 2002, the government ratified the African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The government has also initiated a campaign, with assistance from UNICEF, to set up local committees to monitor and enforce children's rights in every district of the capital of Bangui.[886]

A community schools pilot program has been established in the country with assistance from UNICEF.[887] In order to promote girls' education, primary schools were constructed in the southwest region of the country with assistance from UNICEF during 2003.[888]

In March 2003, the Government of the Central African Republic was overthrown in a coup and a new government was installed. The coup, the population displacement it caused, and a teachers' strike for non-payment of wages led to the closure of schools in certain regions of the country. In May, the new government provided free transportation back to affected regions to encourage teachers and students to return to school.[889] The government, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the French cooperation program agency also have developed a plan of action to address the need for more complete birth registration.[890] Such efforts are intended to improve children's access to education and other social services.[891]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 63.5 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years in the Central African Republic were working.[892] Children work throughout the country, especially in rural areas.[893] Children work in agriculture, mining, and cattle raising.[894] According to reports from an international agency, children also work alongside their families in the diamond fields.[895] In some rural areas, children are required to engage in farming at schools. The proceeds from their work are used for school supplies and activities.[896] Children are also engaged in domestic service and street vending.[897] In 2002, there were approximately 3,000 street children in Bangui.[898]

Children are involved in prostitution in the Central African Republic.[899] Trafficking of children to and from the country also occurs. Children are brought from Nigeria, Sudan and Chad to work as domestic servants, shop assistants and agricultural workers. These children do not receive payment for their work and are not enrolled in school.[900] There are some reports of children being trafficked to Nigeria and other neighboring countries for work in agriculture.[901]

Education is compulsory from ages 6 to 14.[902] However, students must pay for their own books, supplies, transportation, and insurance.[903] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 75.0 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 54.7 percent.[904] In 2000, the net primary attendance rate was 38.3 percent.[905] Primary enrollment and attendance rates are higher for boys than girls,[906] and higher for children living in urban areas than in rural areas.[907] Many reports indicate that male teachers pressure female students into sex to receive good grades.[908] Recurring financial problems in the education system[909] as well as the 2003 coup have led to the closure of many of the country's schools.[910]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years. However, children who are at least 12 years of age may engage in light work in some traditional agricultural activities or domestic work.[911] Children under 18 are forbidden to perform hazardous work or to work at night.[912] The Labor Code prohibits forced labor.[913] A lack of resources and insufficient labor inspection staff contribute to inadequate enforcement of laws relating to child labor.[914]

Although prostitution is legal in the Central African Republic, Article 198 of the Criminal Code prohibits publicly soliciting persons to engage in debauchery. Violations are punishable by a fine or imprisonment from 5 days to 1 month. Article 199 prohibits procurement of individuals for sexual purposes, including assisting in prostitution, and designates a fine and imprisonment for 3 months to 1 year for those found guilty. Article 200 increases the penalty of imprisonment from 1 to 5 years for cases involving a minor.[915] Minor's brigades have been established to punish persons responsible for forcing children into prostitution. However, few cases were prosecuted due to the reluctance of victims' families to press charges.[916] The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking. Traffickers can be prosecuted, however, under anti-slavery laws, mandatory school age laws, prostitution laws, and the labor code.[917] The government does not actively investigate trafficking cases.[918]

The Central African Republic ratified ILO Convention No. 138 and ILO Convention No. 182 on June 28, 2000.[919]


[882] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783, October 3, 2001.

[883] Ibid.

[884] The Ministries of Social Affairs, Interior, Labor, Rural Development, Justice, and Defense are represented on the commission. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Central African Republic, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6f; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18174pf.htm.

[885] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Central African Republic, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8301.htm.

[886] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 5.

[887] UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 658th Meeting: Central African Republic, CRC/C/SR.658, February 2001, para. 31; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/7c0595bc56c343b5c12569f500598d21?Opendocument.

[888] Integrated Regional Information Networks, "UNICEF Funding Schools Construction in the Southwest", IRINnews.org, [online], January 30, 2003 [cited June 18, 2003]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=32015.

[889] Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Teachers, Pupils to be Transported to Schools, Minister Says", IRINnews.org, [online], May 13, 2003 [cited June 18, 2003]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=34057.

[890] Integrated Regional Information Networks, "UNICEF says one-third of children not registered", IRINnews.org, [online], June 20, 2003 [cited June 23, 2003]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=34906.

[891] Ibid.

[892] Children who are working in some capacity include children who have performed any paid or unpaid work for someone who is not a member of the household, who have performed more than 6 hours of housekeeping chores in the household, or who have performed other family work. Government of the Central African Republic, Enquête a Indicateurs Multiples en Republique Centrafricaine (MICS): Rapport Préliminaire, UNICEF, Bangui, December 2000, 31.

[893] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

[894] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783.

[895] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

[896] Ibid.

[897] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783.

[898] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 5.

[899] Ibid., Section 6f. See also UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 658th Meeting, para. 28.

[900] The victims of trafficking in the CAR are generally children. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 6f.

[901] Ibid.

[902] Ibid., Section 5.

[903] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783.

[904] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[905] Government of the Central African Republic, Enquete a Indicateurs Multiples en Republique Centrafricaine, 10-11.

[906] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 88.9 percent for males, and 61.2 percent for females. That same year, the net primary enrollment rate was 64.3 percent for males, and 45.0 percent for females. See World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003. While boys have only slightly higher attendance rates than girls in urban areas, the net primary attendance rate in rural areas is 33.5 percent for boys and 23.8 percent for girls. See Government of the Central African Republic, Enquete a Indicateurs Multiples en Republique Centrafricaine, 11. Factors that limit girls' access to schooling include pressure to marry and tradition. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 5. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "UNICEF Funding Schools Construction".

[907] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 5. The net primary attendance rate is 53.5 percent in urban areas as opposed to 28.8 percent in rural areas. See Government of the Central African Republic, Enquete a Indicateurs Multiples en Republique Centrafricaine, 11.

[908] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 5.

[909] Ibid.

[910] Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Teachers, Pupils to be Transported to Schools". HIV/AIDS-related deaths among teachers have also been a contributing factor to school closures. See Integrated Regional Information Networks, "HIV/AIDS leading cause of death for teachers", IRINnews.org, September 5, 2001; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=11236.

[911] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783. See also NATLEX, Central African Republic, ILO, [database online] 2003 [cited June 24, 2003]; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/scripts/natlexcgi.exe?lang=E.

[912] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783. See also NATLEX, Central African Republic.

[913] The prohibition of forced or compulsory labor applies to children, although they are not mentioned specifically. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 6c.

[914] U.S. Embassy-Bangui, unclassified telegram no. 783. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

[915] The Protection Project, "Central African Republic," in Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: A Country-by-Country Report on a Contemporary Form of Slavery, Washington, D.C., March 2002; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/main1.htm.

[916] UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 658th Meeting, para. 28.

[917] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Central African Republic, Section 6f.

[918] Ibid.

[919] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited June 24, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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