Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Iraq

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Iraq, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7493b1c.html [accessed 23 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2000:11.6%2180
Minimum age for admission to work:152181
Age to which education is compulsory:122182
Free public education:Yes2183*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:98%2184**
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:88%2185
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2000:60.5%2186
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:77%2187
Ratified Convention 138:2/13/19852188
Ratified Convention 182:7/9/20012189
ILO-IPEC participating country:No2190
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.
** It is unclear how the conflict in Iraq is affecting children's participation in work and schooling.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, approximately 14.7 percent of boys and 8.3 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 were working in Iraq.2191 In urban areas, many children work on the streets shining shoes, begging, scavenging through garbage, carrying loads, and selling items such as food, cigarettes, newspapers, and DVDs. Children are found working in shops and markets, on delivery trucks, and as ticket collectors on buses.2192 Children are known to work long hours and under hazardous conditions in automobile repair shops and construction sites.2193 In rural areas, children are found tending livestock and performing seasonal manual labor.2194

There are reports of children being exploited as prostitutes and working in the drug trade.2195 Girls may also be trafficked to Gulf States.2196 Young boys have been targeted by gangs for sexual exploitation. Girls may be targeted by staff at private orphanages to be sold into prostitution or trafficked out of Iraq for sexual exploitation.2197 Armed political groups have recruited children as informers, messengers, and as child soldiers.2198

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is 15 years.2199 The employment of anyone under 16 years in work detrimental to the worker's health, safety, or morals is prohibited.2200 Additional legal requirements regarding the employment of children under 18 include a maximum 7-hour workday, a pre-employment medical examination, a daily rest period of 1 hour after 4 hours of work, and a 30-day paid vacation per year. Employers must maintain a register of names of employees under 18, post a copy of the labor provisions protecting children, and keep minors' medical fitness certificates on file. However, youth 15 or older who are employed in family enterprises are excluded from most of these provisions.2201

The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor, defined as slavery and similar practices including forced labor, child trafficking, and compulsory recruitment of minors for use in armed conflict; child prostitution; illicit activities such as drug trafficking; and work likely to harm the health, safety, or morals of children. Promoting, assisting, or benefiting from the aforementioned worst forms of child labor is prohibited.2202 Violations of Labor Code provisions pertaining to work performed by children, including the worst forms of child labor, may be penalized by imprisonment for 10 days to 3 months or fines.2203 There is no compulsory conscription into the Iraqi armed forces, and the minimum voluntary recruitment age is 18.2204

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) is responsible for overseeing labor inspections.2205 According to the U.S. Department of State, MOLSA's Child Labor Unit is unable to enforce child labor laws and remove children from exploitive labor situations because of a lack of inspectors, a lack of resources, and the effects of the ongoing insurgency.2206 The Ministry of Interior (MOI) is responsible for trafficking issues; however, according to the U.S. Department of State, trafficking is not considered a high priority given the security situation, and is not investigated.2207

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

The Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs (MOPWSA) has a program to provide stipends to ex-child laborers to keep them out of work and to support their schooling. MOPWSA also supports Mercy House in Baghdad, a facility providing support services to ex-street children and other vulnerable populations.2208 The MOI operates a program to address the issues of children living on the streets.2209 MOLSA operates shelters for orphans, some of whom may be at-risk of becoming involved in exploitive labor.2210


2180 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

2181 Coalition Provisional Authority, Coalition Provisional Authority Order 89, art. 90.1; available from http://www.iraqcoalition.org/regulations/20040530_CPAORD89_Amendments_to_the_Labor_Code-Law_No.pdf.

2182 U.S. Department of State, "Iraq," 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/2006/78853.htm.

2183 Government of Iraq, Constitution of Iraq, (October 15, 2005); available from http://www.iraqigovernment.org. See U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 5. See Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation, Iraq Living Conditions Survey 2004, Volume II: Analytical Report, Baghdad, 2005, 104; available from http://www.iq.undp.org/ILCS/PDF/Analytical%20Report%20-%20English.pdf.

2184 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

2185 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

2186 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

2187 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

2188 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed June 16, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

2189 Ibid.

2190 ILO, IPEC Action against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20061018_Implementationreport_eng.pdf.

2191 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

2192 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 6d. See also Craig Davis, Working Paper: Child Labor in Iraq, November 2, 2004. See also IRINnews, "Children work instead of going to school", IRINnews.org, [online], September 16, 2004 [cited April 2, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=43204&SelectRegion=Iraq_Crisis&SelectCountry=IRAQ. See also IRINnews, "IRAQ: Street children face hunger and abuse", IRINnews.org, [online], December 26, 2005 [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org.

2193 Davis, Working Paper: Child Labor in Iraq. See also Coalition Provisional Authority, Monthly Report, Social Welfare, South Iraq, Coalition Provisional Authority, Basra, May 2004; available from https://www422.ssldomain.com/uniraq/documents/Sitrep%20Social%20Affairs.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 6d.

2194 Davis, Working Paper: Child Labor in Iraq. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 6d.

2195 Coalition Provisional Authority, Social Welfare, South Iraq. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "IRAQ: Children Lured into Drugs and Prostitution ", IRINnews.org, [online], February 12, 2007 [cited June 5, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=70094.

2196 U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, reporting, March 7, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 5.

2197 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 5.

2198 Ibid. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Iraq," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=966.

2199 Coalition Provisional Authority, Order 89, Article 90.1. See also Government of Iraq, Act No. 71 Promulgating the Labour Code, (July 27, 1987), Article 91.

2200 Coalition Provisional Authority, Order 89, Articles 91.1 and 91.2.

2201 Ibid., Articles 92, 93, 94, 96.

2202 Ibid., Articles 91. See also ECPAT International CSEC Database, Iraq accessed October 18, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net. See also Government of Iraq, Constitution of Iraq, Article 37.

2203 Coalition Provisional Authority, Order 89, Article 97.

2204 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Global Report 2004."

2205 Government of Iraq, Act No. 71 Promulgating the Labour Code, Article 116.

2206 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 6d.

2207 Ibid. See See also U.S. Embassy – Baghdad, reporting, March 7, 2007.

2208 IRINnews, "Focus on child labour", IRINnews.org, [online], May 9, 2005 [cited April 2, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=47022&SelectRegion=Middle_East&SelectCountry=IRAQ. See also IRINnews, "New social programme assists the poor and vulnerable", IRINnews.org, [online], March 31, 2005 [cited April 2,2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=46404&SelectRegion=Middle_East&SelectCountry=IRAQ.

2209 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Iraq," section 5.

2210 U.S. Department of State, "Iraq," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61689.htm. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "IRAQ: Ministry Copes with Rising Numbers of Orphaned Children", IRINnews.org, [online], October 18, 2006 [cited April 18, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org.

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