Last Updated: Thursday, 02 October 2014, 08:47 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Dominican Republic

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 - Dominican Republic, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46b28.html [accessed 2 October 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 Labor1023
Working children, 10-14 years (%), 2005:5.8
Working boys, 10-14 years (%), 2005:9.0
Working girls, 10-14 years (%), 2005:2.7
Working children by sector, 10-14 years (%), 2005:
     – Agriculture18.5
     – Manufacturing9.8
     – Services57.5
     – Other14.2
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:14
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:98
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:77
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:96.3
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:68
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Most work performed by children in the Dominican Republic is in the informal sector.1024 In urban areas, children work in markets, garbage dumps, repair shops, and on the streets. They perform activities such as washing cars, shining shoes, street sales, and carrying heavy loads.1025 Many urban child workers are migrants from other regions.1026 In rural areas, children work mostly in agriculture and services.1027 Children also work as domestic servants.1028 Short school days and a poor educational system contribute to children working.1029

Past reports indicate that Haitian children plant and cut sugarcane; however, it is unconfirmed if this is continuing.1030 There have been conflicting reports as to whether trafficking undocumented Haitians for work in the sugarcane plantations has lessened.1031 However, the practice of trafficking Haitians, including children, to work in agriculture and construction sectors continues.1032 Many Haitian adults and children live in sugarcane worker villages referred to as "bateyes," which lack adequate housing conditions, access to medical services, and other basic needs, and are rife for exploitive child labor.1033 Dominican-born children of parents of Haitian descent are regularly denied citizenship or legal identity documents which preclude access to education beyond the fifth grade, formal sectors jobs, and other basic rights. An estimated 600,000 to 1 million Dominican-born persons of Haitian descent lack legal documentation and are functionally stateless.1034

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a problem, especially in tourist locations and major urban areas. Between February and November 2007, 30 suspected child prostitutes ages 10 to 16 were detained by police in Boca Chica, Las Terrenas, Playa Dorado, and Santo Domingo.1035 The National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) reported 251 cases of commercial sexual exploitation in 2007. Dominican Government officials have stated that economic need contributes to child prostitution.1036 The Dominican Republic is a source and destination country for the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation.1037 Children are also trafficked internally from rural to tourist areas.1038 International organizations estimate that more than 2,000 Haitian children are trafficked to the Dominican Republic each year to work in the streets, in agriculture, and for commercial sexual exploitation.1039 It has been reported that children, particularly Haitian children, are sometimes "adopted" by families who register them as their own and provide some form of payment to the birthparents. Such children are often exploited as domestic workers or as workers in family businesses.1040 Girls are also trafficked from the Dominican Republic to Haiti for commercial sexual exploitation.1041

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The legal minimum age for employment in the Dominican Republic is 14 years; however, the Secretary of Labor may authorize individual permits to those younger than 14 years to work as actors or characters in public shows, radio, television, or movies.1042 Work must not interfere with a minor's education.1043 Children under 16 years may not work for more than 6 hours a day and must have a medical certification.1044 Special authorization is needed for itinerant sales work for minors.1045 Females 14 to 16 years are prohibited from working as messengers and delivering merchandise.1046

Minors under 18 years are prohibited from dangerous work such as that involving hazardous substances, heavy or dangerous machinery, and heavy loads. Minors are also prohibited from night work, work on the street, work in gaming establishments, handling cadavers, various tasks involved in the production of sugarcane, and certain work at hotels. Some exceptions are made for apprenticeships and job training for those older than 16 years.1047 Employers are required to pay minors at least the minimum legal wage.1048 Fines are established for violations of legal provisions involving child labor.1049

Forced labor is prohibited by law.1050 The Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Alien Smuggling Law establishes penalties of 15 to 20 years of imprisonment as well as fines for trafficking minors.1051 The Protection of Children and Adolescents Law establishes punishments of 20 to 30 years of incarceration and fines for the transfer of a child to someone else for the purposes of forced labor; commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography; or other degrading activities, in exchange for compensation.1052 Perpetrators can also receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines for involvement in the commercial sexual exploitation of children; the sexual abuse of children under circumstances involving trafficking; or giving a son or daughter to another person in exchange for compensation.1053 Fines are established for transporting minors unaccompanied by their parents without authorization.1054 Promoting or assisting the trafficking of a minor to a foreigner is punishable by 4 to 6 years of imprisonment and fines.1055 Making, distributing, or publishing pornographic photographs of children is punishable by 2 to 4 years of incarceration and fines.1056 The Technology Crime Law was enacted by the Executive Power in April 2007 and establishes 2 to 4 years in prison for the purchase or possession of child pornography.1057 Crimes involving drug trafficking carry increased penalties if minors were used to carry out the offense.1058 The minimum voluntary and compulsory recruitment age for military service is 16 years, and recruits must have completed their education.1059

The Secretary of Labor (SET), in coordination with CONANI, is responsible for protecting minors against labor exploitation.1060 CONANI is supposed to receive a minimum of 2 percent of the national budget; however, this is not being met. According to USDOS, the Government has made some efforts to protect children, particularly from exploitive child labor.1061 The Government effectively enforced child labor laws in the formal sector, but has had difficulties regulating the informal sector. Laws have been insufficient in deterring child labor in the informal sector.1062 In 2007, the SET employed 191 labor inspectors who were trained in child labor, which is an increase from 146 inspectors in 2006.1063 Approximately 70,000 inspections were conducted in 2007, resulting in 10 findings of child labor violations.1064 The antitrafficking unit of the Office of the Attorney General investigates and prosecutes trafficking crimes.1065 According to USDOS, the Dominican Republic lacks effective trafficking law enforcement and victim protection programs.1066 USDOS believes that monitoring the border with Haiti has improved but is still not effective, partially due to long, porous borders.1067 Further, USDOS cites press reports alleging some government officials to be involved in trafficking. For example, in June, a high level Ministry of Labor official had charges filed against her by the National District prosecuting attorney for involvement in a trafficking scheme, and in the past 3 years, 400 inspectors have been fired for supposed involvement in smuggling and trafficking of persons.1068 Between April 2006 and March 2007, more than 30 prosecutions arose from arrests of military and other public officials for involvement with trafficking; of these, three officials have been convicted.1069

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

The Government of the Dominican Republic has both a National Plan to Eradicate the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2006-2016) and an Action Plan for the Eradication of Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys, Girls, and Adolescents.1070 At the summit of Ministers of Labor in August 2007, representatives from the Secretariat of Labor, labor unions, and employer organizations signed a tripartite declaration for the National Program of Decent Work, which supports both plans.1071

The National Steering Committee against Child Labor has been creating municipal and provincial committees around the country to develop strategies to combat child labor on a local level.1072 As part of its Solidarity Program, the Vice Presidency has established a monetary transfer program for extremely poor families, with the stipulation that their children are removed from labor and are enrolled in school.1073 Further, the country's Agricultural Bank has included a clause in its loan agreements that prohibits the recipients from using child labor and guarantees that they send their children to school.1074

The Prevention Unit of the Department of Alien Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons, which collaborates with the Ministries of Labor and Education, conducts anti-trafficking seminars at schools across the country and has reached more than 5,000 students.1075 Starting in July 2007, the Government launched a publicity campaign for an anti-trafficking hotline that serves as a resource for the prevention of trafficking. Additionally, the Government trains officials posted overseas in how to recognize and assist trafficking victims.1076 In October 2007, the National Commission against Trafficking in Persons was established to alleviate trafficking via the cooperation of multiple agencies, including the National Council for Children.1077

The SET currently participates in the second phase of a USD 2.7 million 39-month ILO-IPEC project funded by USDOL to support the Government's Timebound Program to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The project began in 2006 and aims to withdraw 2,900 children and prevent 2,200 children from exploitive labor.1078 In addition, the Government is also part of a 4-year USD 4 million USDOL-funded project, implemented by DevTech Systems, Inc., in association with EDUCA and INTEC, that seeks to withdraw and prevent 8,500 children from exploitive labor by improving the quality of and access to basic and vocational education, and working with public-private partnerships, including the development of corporate codes of conduct in sectors prone to child labor.1079 In August 2007, DevTech Systems, Inc. completed a 4-year USD 3 million project that withdrew 3,771 children from exploitive child labor and prevented 1,803 children from entering the worst forms of child labor.1080 As part of an effort to build capacity to improve labor law compliance among the CAFTA-DR partners, USDOL is providing USD 2.6 million for a project to strengthen outreach efforts in the agriculture sector in the region, where child labor is a serious problem.1081

The Government also participates in regional projects funded by USDOL. These include a USD 8.8 million regional project implemented by ILO-IPEC that seeks to combat commercial sexual exploitation through a variety of activities including capacity building and legal reform. In addition, the project aims to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region.1082 The Government is also part of the 4-year USD 5.7 million USDOL-funded Child Labor Education Initiative regional project implemented by CARE to strengthen the Government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education, and withdraw or prevent 2,984 children from exploitive child labor.1083 The activities in the Dominican Republic for both of these regional projects, however, focus on strengthening regional cooperation, legislation, policies, and institutions.1084

The Government of the Dominican Republic participated in a Phase II USD 2.6 million regional project and a Phase III USD 3 million regional project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain and implemented by ILO-IPEC.1085


1023 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 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la Protección de los Derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, (August 7, 2003), articles 40, 45, 46; available from http://www.suprema.gov.do/. See also UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Statistics: National Education Systems, March 14, 2008; available from http://www.uis.unesco.org/statsen/statistics/yearbook/tables/Table3_1.html.

1024 U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100637.htm.

1025 ILO-IPEC, Día Mundial Contra El Trabajo Infantil, [online] June 2005 [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://www.oit.or.cr/ipec/encuentros/noticia.php?notCodigo=424.

1026 ILO-IPEC, Evaluación rápida sobre niños, niñas, y adolescentes trabajadores/as urbanos/as en República Dominicana, Santo Domingo, December 2002, 34-35.

1027 Dominican Secretariat of Labor and ILO-IPEC, Report on the Results of the National Child Labour Survey in the Dominican Republic, San José, July 2004, 33; available from http://www.ipec.oit.or.cr/ipec/region/acciones/simpoc/publicaciones/RD/RD%20-%20national%20report.pdf.

1028 IOM, Panorama Sobre la Trata de Personas, 2006, 89; available from http://www.oim.org.co/modulos/contenido/default.asp?idmodulo=7&idlibro=115. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 6d.

1029 USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit by U.S. Department of Labor Officials to the Dominican Republic: January 13-16, 2008, Washington, DC, January, 2008. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 6d.

1030 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 6d.

1031 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims of Human Trafficking in Haiti, [online] December 4, 2006 [cited December 15, 2007]; available from http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/featureArticleAM/cache/offonce?entryId=12185. See also U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/86204.htm.

1032 U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5.

1033 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006. See also USDOL, Trip Report of Site Visit to the Dominican Republic. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, January 31, 2008.

1034 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 2d. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, January 31, 2008. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, December 7, 2007.

1035 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5.

1036 U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100637.htm.

1037 The Protection Project, 2007 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2007; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/human_rights_reports/report_documents/dominican.doc. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Dominican Republic."

1038 The Protection Project, 2007 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

1039 UNICEF, At a Glance: Haiti: Background, [online] [cited December 17 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/haiti.html. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims. See also IOM, Panorama Sobre la Trata de Personas, 90. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in the Dominican Republic – Phase II (2006-2009), Project Document, Geneva, August 2006, 2-3.

1040 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 6d. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti." See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme – Phase II, Project Document, 2-3.

1041 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti."

1042 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, article 40.

1043 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código de Trabajo de la República Dominicana 1992, article 254; available from http://www.cinterfor.org.uy/public/spanish/region/ampro/cinterfor/temas/youth/eventos/rep_dom/ii/v/index.htm. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, article 39.

1044 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código de Trabajo 1992, articles 247-248.

1045 Ibid., article 249.

1046 Ibid., article 252.

1047 Government of the Dominican Republic, Resolución Sobre Trabajos Peligrosos e Insalubres para Personas Menores de 18 Años, (August 13, 2004); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/69773/68796/F452892919/DOM69773.pdf.

1048 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código de Trabajo 1992, article 257.

1049 Ibid., article 720-721. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Trabajos Peligrosos e Insalubres, article 6. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, article 44.

1050 The Protection Project, 2007 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

1051 ILO-IPEC, Combating Trafficking in Children for Labour and Sexual Exploitation in the Balkans and Ukraine, Project Document, Geneva, September 2003.

1052 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, articles 25 and 409.

1053 Ibid., articles 396, 404, and 410.

1054 Ibid., articles 204 and 391.

1055 Ibid., article 406.

1056 Ibid., articles 26 and 411.

1057 Government of the Dominican Republic, Ley contra Crimenes y Delitos de Alta Tecnologia, (April 23, 2007), article 24. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in the Dominican Republic – Phase II (2006-2009), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, August 2007.

1058 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2007, article 85.

1059 Government of the Dominican Republic, Ley Orgánica de las Fuerzas Armadas de la República Dominicana, 873, (1996), articles 30-31; available from http://www.secffaa.mil.do/Ley1.htm.

1060 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, article 34.

1061 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/.

1062 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 6d.

1063 Government of the Dominican Republic, Informe de avances sobre la lucha contra el trabajo infantil en la Republica Dominicana, 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", Santo Domingo, December 3, 2007. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, December 7, 2007.

1064 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, December 18, 2006.

1065 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5.

1066 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Dominican Republic."

1067 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006.

1068 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Dominican Republic." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5.

1069 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Dominican Republic."

1070 ILO, Plan Estratégico Nacional para la erradicación de las peores formas de trabajo infantil en República Dominicana 2006-2016, Santo Domingo, August 2006. See also Interinstitutional Commission Against the Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Girls Boys and Adolescents, Plan de Acción de la República Dominicana Para Erradicar el Abuso y la Explotación Sexual Comercial de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes, ILO, Dominican Republic, January 2006; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_nacional_esc.pdf.

1071 Government of the Dominican Republic, Acta de Acuerdo Tripartito Para el Programa Nacional de Trabajo Decente de La Republica Dominicana, Santo Domingo, August 8, 2007. See also CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Technical Progress Report, Managua, September 12, 2007, 22.

1072 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, December 7, 2007. See also CARE International, Primero Aprendo Technical Progress Report September 2007, 23.

1073 CARE International, Primero Aprendo Technical Progress Report September 2007, 23.

1074 Government of the Dominican Republic, Informe de avances sobre la lucha contra el trabajo infantil en la Republica Dominicana. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, December 7, 2007.

1075 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Dominican Republic."

1076 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Dominican Republic."

1077 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Dominican Republic," section 5.

1078 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme – Phase II, Project Document, vi and vii.

1079 DevTech Systems Inc., Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education II/Dominican Republic, initial Project Document, January 28, 2008, i, 7, 14, and 17-18.

1080 DevTech Systems Inc., Combating Child Labor Through Education, Final Technical Progress Report, Arlington, Virginia, November 15, 2007, 1 and 9.

1081 Social Accountability International, Project CULTIVAR: Advancing Labor Rights in Agriculture in Central America, Project Document, New York, August 8, 2007.

1082 ILO-IPEC, "Stop the Exploitation" ("Alto a la explotación") Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Project Document, RLA/02/P51-05/52/USA, San Jose, 2002, 2005, 1 and 63. See also ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Project Addendum, Geneva, September 2005, 1 and 22.

1083 CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Revision, April 19, 2007, 1-2. See also CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Revision, September 29, 2006.

1084 CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, Project Document, 2004, 5. See also ILO-IPEC, Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Project Addendum, 22-23.

1085 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

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