Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guinea

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guinea, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d74893c.html [accessed 21 September 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 1997, the Government of Guinea held a workshop to raise awareness about child labor, and with the help of the ILO and UNICEF, established a Child Labor Steering Committee chaired by the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Promotion of Women and Children (MSAPWC). Following the workshop, UNICEF financed an information consolidation project to collect all existing information on child labor,1608 and afterwards, a synthesis document detailing the existing information was published in 1998. Since the border conflicts in 2000, however, the steering committee's regular meetings have come to a halt, and the government's budget priorities have shifted more heavily toward national defense.1609 With the exception of a few government-supported sensitization programs, such as the MSAPWC children's rights campaign with UNICEF, most current child labor initiatives are implemented by NGOs independent of government support.1610 The government admittedly lacks the capacity to take progressive steps to combat child labor,1611 and in 2002, the Ministry of Social Affairs requested technical assistance from ILOIPEC to address the problem.1612

In 1990, the Government of Guinea initiated the Education Sector Adjustment Program to improve the quality of the education system.1613 The reform program is ongoing, and the government is continuing to commit funds for teacher training, school construction and the provision of books and materials.1614 UNICEF and USAID are working with the government to implement youth programs and education initiatives. UNICEF is promoting youth participation in regional education conferences, as well as working to provide refugee children and other war-affected youth with access to education.1615 USAID is assisting the Ministry of Education to implement its primary education reforms.1616 In addition, in 2001, the World Bank began implementing a USD 70 million loan program to assist the government's education reform efforts.1617

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, the ILO estimated that 31.1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Guinea were working.1618 Children begin working beside their parents at a young age, often at 5 years in rural areas.1619 The majority of working children are found in the domestic or informal sectors, carrying out activities such as subsistence farming, petty commerce, fishing, and small-scale mining.1620 Children also work in gold and diamond mines, granite and sand quarries, and as apprentices to mechanics, electricians, and plumbers, among others professions.1621

There is no statistical data available on the number of street children in Guinea, although children work in the streets selling cheap goods for traders, carrying baggage or shining shoes.1622

Commercial sexual exploitation of children occurs and is on the rise.1623 While there have been scattered reports of trafficking in children, there is no available information on the extent of the problem. In 2000, UNICEF reported incidents of trafficking among refugee populations in four prefectures in Guinea's forest region.1624 In July 2000, 33 young Nigerian girls destined for Europe were released to the Nigerian Embassy by Guinean officials.1625 Furthermore, internal trafficking occurs from rural to urban areas.1626 Children may also have worked as volunteer soldiers during the recent border attacks, but the reports cannot be fully corroborated.1627

Public education is free1628 and compulsory for six years, from the age of 7 to 13 years.1629 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 58.9 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 45.7 percent.1630 Enrollment remains substantially lower among girls than boys. In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 45.5 percent for girls, compared to 71.9 percent for boys.1631 In 1999, primary school attendance was 40 percent.1632 Children, particularly girls, may not attend school or drop-out in order to assist their parents with domestic work or agriculture,1633 and in general, enrollment rates are lower in rural areas.1634 Government resources for education are limited; there are not enough school facilities to adequately serve the population of school-age children, and the availability of school supplies and equipment is poor.1635

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years, although children under the age of 16 can work with an authority's consent.1636 Based on the Labor Code, apprentices may begin to work at 14 years of age. Workers under the age of 18 are not permitted to work at night or work more than 10 consecutive hours.1637 The Labor Code also prohibits forced or bonded labor and hazardous work by children under 18 years.1638 Guinea's Penal Code prohibits trafficking of persons, the exploitation of vulnerable persons for unpaid or underpaid labor,1639 and procurement or solicitation for the purposes of prostitution.1640 The official age for voluntary recruitment or conscription into the armed forces is 18 years.1641

The government has acknowledged that the implementation and enforcement of labor legislation remains weak.1642 The Labor Inspectorate within the Ministry of Labor has one inspector and several assistants in each prefecture to enforce relevent legislation; however, no cases of child labor were reported from January to August 2002.1643 According to the Labor Code, punishment for infractions of child labor laws range from a fine of up to 800,000 GNF (USD 420) to imprisonment of no more than two months.1644 The penalty for trafficking is 5 to 10 years of imprisonment.1645

The Government of Guinea has not ratified ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.1646


1608 Ibrahime Yansane and Silvia Pasti, UNICEF-Guinea officials, interview with USDOL official, August 13, 2002.

1609 Ibid. See also Aliou Barry, Travail des Enfants en Guinee: Synthese des donnees disponibles et constats de terrain, STAT-VIEW Association, Conakry, January 1998.

1610 Bafode Keita and Camara Sarang Seck, Ministry of Social Affairs and the Promotion of Women and Children, interview with USDOL official, August 13, 2002. See also Yansane and Pasti, interview, August 13, 2002. See also U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2368, 2001.

1611 Keita and Seck, interview, August 13, 2002.

1612 Bruce Mariama Aribot, Ministry of Social Affairs and the Promotion of Women and Children, letter to the Geneva Director of ILO-IPEC, 2002.

1613 UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Guinea, prepared by Ministry of Pre-University Level Teaching and Civil Education, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000, [cited December 27, 2002]; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/guinea/contents.html#cont.

1614 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2368. See also Mohamed Fofana, USAID, Natural Resources Management, interview with USDOL official, August 12, 2002.

1615 Yansane and Pasti, interview, August 13, 2002. See also UNICEF, Donor Update: Guinea, May 29, 2002, [cited September 3, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef.org/emerg/Country/Guinea/020529.PDF.

1616 USAID projects include an Interactive Radio Program that offers teacher training in rural areas; a Community Participation Program; and a Girls' Education Program effort to boost female enrollment rates. See Fofana, USAID interview, August 12, 2002. See also USAID, Education, [cited September 3, 2002]; available from http://www.usaid.gov/gn/education/background/index.htm.

1617 World Bank, Education for All Projects, [online] 2002 [cited July 31, 2002]; available from http://www4.worldbank.org/sprojects/Project.asp?pid=P050046.

1618 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002. In 1997, the Ministry of Planning estimated that about 48 percent of children under the age of 15 were working. These children account for nearly 20 percent of the total working population and 26 percent of all agricultural workers. The Ministry of Planning estimates also suggested that child labor is much more prevalent in rural than urban areas. The Ministry estimated that in rural areas, approximately 66 percent of children ages 7 to 14 and 91 percent ages 15 to 19 were working. In urban areas, the numbers were approximately 19 percent and 50 percent, respectively. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Guinea, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 345-49, [cited September 3, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/af/8383.htm.

1619 UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, Programme De Cooperation 2002-2006, Republique de Guinee, Conakry, 2000, 35.

1620 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 1857, 1998. See also UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, 83-84.

1621 UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, 84.

1622 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2368. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports Awaited from States Parties for 1992, CRC/C/3/Add.48, prepared by Government of Guinea, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 20, 1996, para. 116-17.

1623 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties: Guinea, para. 131. See also UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, 84-85.

1624 UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, 85.

1625 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Guinea, 347-49, Section 6f.

1626 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2368.

1627 The volunteers were self-organized groups formed by villagers to combat border insurgencies. Although the groups were not officially part of the Guinean military, the army provided guns. Multiple sources stated that children were most likely involved. See Yansane and Pasti, interview, August 13, 2002. See also Guinean Human Rights Organization, interview with USDOL official, August 12, 2002. See also U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2704, 2001.

1628 Rebublic of Guinea, Rapport relatif au principe de l'abolition effective du travail des enfants, Conakry, September 4-8, 2000, 3.

1629 UNESCO, National Education Systems – Guinea, [cited October 11, 2002]; available from http://www.uis.unesco.org/statsen/statistics/yearbook/tables/Table3_1.html.

1630 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002.

1631 Ibid.

1632 Ministry of Pre-University Level Teaching and Civil Education, Schooling in Guinea, Findings from the GDHS-2 1999, Conakry, Guinea, January 17, 2001, 17.

1633 UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, 70. See also Guinean Teacher's Union (SLECG/FSPE), interview with USDOL official, August 12, 2002.

1634 Fofana, USAID interview, August 12, 2002.

1635 UNICEF, Situation Des Enfants et Des Femmes, 68. According to Teacher's Union representatives, it is common for classes to run as large as 100 students, with only one teacher. See Guinean Teacher's Union (SLECG/FSPE), interview, August 12, 2002.

1636 Code du Travail de la Republique de Guinee, 1988, Article 5.

1637 The penalty for an infraction of the law is a fine of 30,000 to 600,000 GFN (USD 16 to 314). See Ibid., Articles 31 and 145, 48. For currency conversion see FX Converter, [online] [cited November 12, 2002]; available from http://www.carosta.de/frames/convert.htm.

1638 Section 187 of the Labor Code prohibits hazardous work, defined as any work likely to endanger the health, safety, or morals of children. The Ministry of Labor determines the exact jobs that are considered hazardous. See Code du Travail, 1988, Articles 2, 186 and 87, 205.

1639 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2368.

1640 Government of the Republic of Guinea, Penal Code, Article 289, as cited in Protection Project [cited September 4, 2002]; available from http://www.protectionproject.org.

1641 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2704. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Guinea," in Global Report 2001, 2001, Articles 288 and 89 [cited September 4, 2002]; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/report2001/global_report_contents.html.

1642 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties: Guinea, para. 119.

1643 Bengaly Camara, Deputy Inspector of Labor, Inspecteur-Generale du Travail, interview with USDOL official, August 12, 2002.

1644 Code du Travail, 1988, Article 205. For currency conversion see FX Converter, at http://www.carosta.de/frames/ convert.htm, [cited October 10, 2002].

1645 U.S. Embassy – Conakry, unclassified telegram no. 2368.

1646 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited September 4, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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