Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2014, 11:16 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Lebanon

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Lebanon , 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748f73e.html [accessed 26 November 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 138     6/10/2003
Ratified Convention 182     9/11/2001
ILO-IPEC Member
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Lebanon are unavailable.2721 According to UNICEF, more than half of all children ages 6 to 14 who work are girls.2722 Working children are more prevalent in poor, rural areas and are more likely to come from large families.2723 The majority of working children ages 6 to 14 years are found in North and South Lebanon and in the Beqaa region.2724 Children in urban areas work in several hazardous sectors, including metal works, street peddling, automobile repair, carpentry, domestic service, electrical and electronics repair, and construction work. Exploitative work in domestic service is a particular problem for girls in North Lebanon.2725 Children in rural areas work in handicrafts and artisanry, as well as in more hazardous work associated with mining and seasonal agriculture (especially tobacco production in South Lebanon).2726 Approximately 11 percent of working children are employed in agriculture.2727 In 2000, a government assessment estimated that 25,000 children ages 7 to 14 were working in tobacco cultivation.2728 The majority of children working in tobacco cultivation are unpaid. Children ages 10 to 15 years are involved in tobacco drying, harvesting, and planting; children 5 to 10 years work in seedling transplant and leaf drying; and those under 5 years assist with leaf drying.2729

Palestinian refugee children and children from poor families are often forced to leave school at an early age to go to work.2730 It is common for non-Lebanese children to earn family income by working in the fields or begging in the streets.2731 Many street children are Syrian nationals and Palestinian refugees. Non-Lebanese children constitute 10 to 20 percent of children working in the formal sector, but make up a larger share of children working on the street.2732 In December 2004, the Ministry of Interior released a study on working street children in Lebanon. According to the study, the majority of working street children are Palestinian and Syrian boys who are poorly educated or illiterate, many of whom are forced by adults to work long hours on the streets. The most common types of work were selling goods, shoe polishing and washing car windshields. Less than one-fifth of the children surveyed said they keep their income, while nearly one quarter of them said they give their entire earnings to the head of the household.2733

There have been reported cases of child prostitution and other situations that amount to forced labor.2734 Lebanon is a destination country for women and children trafficked from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for the purposes of involuntary domestic servitude and prostitution.2735 Although there are no official estimates on the extent of child trafficking in the country,2736 child trafficking is known to exist. Young children, particularly street children, are exploited as child beggars by organized gangs, and girls are forced into prostitution, in some cases by their own parents. There are some indications that organized criminal groups are involved in the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. In addition, there are cases in which underage girls are forced into early marriages in exchange for payments to the girl's family, and underage girls are also trafficked to Lebanon for the purpose of forced marriage.2737 While children are not known to participate in armed militia attacks, children continue to be involved in militia training and rallies by groups such as Hizbollah and are also known to participate in various armed groups operating in the country.2738

Education is free and compulsory through the age of 12.2739 Despite this legislation, in practice, education is not without cost. Expenditure on education constitutes 13.1 percent of the family budget, the third-largest expense after food and transportation.2740 Lebanon has a unique education system made up of government and private institutions, to which the government pays partial fees. Primary school is considered free in official state schools or state-funded private institutions. However, in these "free" schools students are responsible for registration and other fees.2741 In addition, public schools reportedly lack proper facilities, equipment, and trained teachers, and the curricula do not adequately correspond to the demands of the labor market.2742 The leading reasons for families not being able to provide their children with an education include: uneven geographic distribution of the public schools; the lack of availability of public transportation in all areas; and the direct and indirect costs of education.2743 Most notably, refugee families are often not able to afford school tuition, and instead take their children out of school and send them to work.2744

The 1998 Law (No. 686) that called for the provision of compulsory free education to all Lebanese children ages 6 to 12 years also called for the gradual extension of this right to all children up to age 15 (the minimum age for admission to employment). However, the government has yet to issue the legal steps to enforce this law across the country. Moreover, no ministerial decree has been issued in conjunction with the law to officially extend the age beyond 12 years.2745

In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 103 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 91 percent.2746 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 Lebanon.2747 While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.2748 Although the majority of the children working in tobacco cultivation enroll in elementary school, work-related absenteeism negatively affects these children's education and contributes to high dropout rates, preventing many from reaching the secondary level.2749 As of 2001, 92 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.2750

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code of 1996 sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.2751 Children working in domestic service, family businesses, and agriculture are not covered by the child labor provisions. Children ages 14 to 17 may be employed under special conditions relating to matters such as working hours and conditions, and type of work. A 1999 amendment to the Labor Code forbids the employment of children under the age of 18 for more than 6 hours per day. The amendment also requires a 13-hour period of rest between workdays. In addition, youths under the age of 18 must be given an hour break after a 4-hour period of labor. An employer may not employ these youths between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Adolescents ages 14 to 18 must pass a medical examination to ensure that they can undertake the work for which they are to be engaged, and the prospective employer must request the child's identity card to verify his or her age.2752 In addition, it is illegal to employ a child under the age of 17 in industrial enterprises that are harmful or detrimental to their health, or to hire youth below the age of 16 to work in dangerous environments that threaten their life, health or morals. These types of work include work in underground mines and quarries, manufacturing or sale of alcohol, exposure to or production of chemicals or explosives, demolition work, work in tanneries or with machinery, street vending, begging, domestic service, and pornography, among others.2753 Sections 107 and 108 of the Labor Code provide for a fine of 100 too 1,000 Lebanese pounds (USD 0.06 to 0.67) and 30 days' to 3 months of imprisonment for anyone who infringes the provisions of the Labor Code, which include the prohibitions relating to child labor.2754

There are a number of statutes under which the worst forms of child labor can be prosecuted in Lebanon. There are no laws specifically prohibiting trafficking or forced labor; however, other laws are used to address such offenses. These include article 569 of the Penal Code, which prohibits deprivation of personal freedom and article 11 of the labor code, which limits the scope of work agreements.2755 Moreover, abduction of a person under the age of 18 for purposes of exploitation is prohibited and punishable by up to 3 years of imprisonment and a fine.2756 Prostitution is illegal in Lebanon; however, prostitution does occur with the implicit consent of the government.2757 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the armed forces is 18 years of age and there are no indications of children in government armed forces.2758 Since 1999, the Government of Lebanon has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.2759

The Ministry of Labor (MOL) is responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws, but the Ministry does not apply these laws rigorously, and discrepancies in various legislative measures provide loopholes that facilitate child labor in certain circumstances.2760 The MOL has a Labor Inspection Team composed of 97 labor inspectors nationwide, but the Child Labor Unit has a shortage of personnel and inadequate resources, which limit the unit's ability to investigate conditions in small or informal establishments.2761 Unlike previous years, the government provided no training this year for officials charged with enforcing child labor laws.2762 In August 2005, the Secretary General of the Higher Council for Childhood stated that officials dealing with the issue of child labor face three main problems: lack of coordination between the appropriate ministries; little capacity building for NGOs who offer education/vocational training to working children; and the absence of a problem-solving approach that addresses prevention, rather than detection of the problem.2763

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

The Child Labor Unit of the MOL, with strong support from the National Steering Committee, has been responsible for the development of a National Policy and Program Framework (NPPF) to eliminate child labor. The NPPF outlines effective strategies to eliminate child labor in priority sectors in Lebanon within an established timeframe, using common measures of progress and a plan for coordination among all actors.2764 The MOL launched the NPPF strategy to combat child labor in cooperation with ILO-IPEC and the National Council for Children in February 2005,2765 and MOL forwarded the framework to the Cabinet to endorse it as an official document.2766 In 2005, the Higher Council for Childhood, administered through the Ministry of Social Affairs, organized five regional workshops with NGOs to address obstacles that hinder the application of the law on compulsory education. The Council also participated in a regional project implemented by Catholic Relief Services and CARITAS-Lebanon to raise awareness of working children and their parents on the risks surrounding child labor.2767

The government is continuing efforts to counter trafficking in persons, including producing and distributing pamphlets on trafficking to inform victims about various sources of assistance. The government is also improving its cooperation with NGOs, immigration authorities, and source country embassies in victim protection and repatriation.2768 With support from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Ministry of Justice is implementing a 2-year project, which aims to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings in Lebanon by strengthening criminal justice mechanisms and harmonizing legislation with international conventions and norms.2769

The Government of Lebanon is continuing to participate in two child labor projects funded by USDOL. The first is a USD 1.5 million ILO-IPEC project to support the MOL and its implementation of the NPPF to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.2770 CHF International and its Lebanese partner Rene Moawad Foundation are implementing a USDOL-funded USD 8 million sub-regional project to combat child labor through education in Lebanon and Yemen, with substantial involvement by the Ministries of Education and Labor.2771 In July 2005, in collaboration with the ILO and various NGOs that assist working children, the MOL convened a forum to highlight the educational and health rights of working children, which received wide coverage in the media.2772

The World Bank is continuing to support a USD 56.6 million project to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sport. This 5-year program, which aims to benefit 20,000 primary and secondary students through school construction and 130,000 secondary students through the introduction of new technology and in-service teacher training, will continue through 2007.2773


2721 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

2722 UNICEF, Preliminary Report on the Multiple Cluster Survey On the Situation of Children in Lebanon, prepared by Government of Lebanon: Central Bureau of Statistics, February 2001, Table 17; available from http://childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/lebanon/lebanon.pdf.

2723 ILO-IPEC, Lebanon: Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, Geneva, May 2002, 8; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/lebanon/ra/tobacco.pdf. See also Partners for Development – Civil Group, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Lebanon, ILO, Geneva, 2004, 85; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/publ/download/gender_edu_lebanon_2004_en.pdf.

2724 UNICEF, Preliminary Report on the Multiple Cluster Survey, Table 17. According to a report conducted by UNICEF entitled "State of the Children in Lebanon 2000," child labor is most prevalent in North Lebanon for children ages 10 to 18 years. See Partners for Development, Gender, Education & Child Labor in Lebanon: A Concept Paper, Draft 4, submitted to ILO, Beirut, November 28, 2003, 6.

2725 See Partners for Development – Civil Group, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Lebanon, 4, 8, 9, 16, 82. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Lebanon, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27932.htm. ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "Report of the Committee of Experts on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 182): Lebanon (ratification: 2001)" (paper presented at the 75th Session, Geneva, 2004); available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/.

2726 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the National Policy and Programme Framework for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Lebanon and Yemen: Consolidating Action against the Worst Forms of Child Labour, project document, Geneva, September 3, 2004, 10. See also ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments."

2727 ILO-IPEC, Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, 9.

2728 The survey was conducted by the Consultation and Research Institute in Lebanon with the support of the ILO between July and September 2000. See Ibid., viii, 7-8.

2729 Ibid., viii.

2730 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Lebanon, Washington, DC, February 28, 2005, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41726.htm. See also Majdoline Hattoume, "Poverty Forcing Children to Work Despite the Law," Daily Star (Beirut), November 19, 2003.

2731 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Section 5.

2732 Partners for Development, Gender, Education & Child Labor in Lebanon, 22. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut official, personal communication, to USDOL official, March 26, 2004.

2733 U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 31, 2005.

2734 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Sections 5, 6c and 6e. See also The Protection Project, "Lebanon," 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., 2002; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/human_rights/countryreport/lebanon.htm. The Lebanese media have pointed out cases of street children as young as 12 being forced into prostitution. Street prostitution is most apparent in Maameltein, Jounieh, Dora, and Corniche al-Manara. See ECPAT International, Lebanon, in ECPAT International, [database online] January 9, 2004 [cited June 27, 2005], Child Prostitution; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

2735 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, DC, June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46614.htm.

2736 Integrated Regional Information Networks, Lebanon: Government urged to combat trafficking in human beings, [online] September 22, 2005 [cited December 8, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=49187.

2737 United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, Expert on Trafficking in Persons Ends Visit to Lebanon, press release, Geneva, September 15, 2005; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/0/5F43BE66EDB9D815C125707E00240837?opendocument.

2738 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report 2004: Lebanon, London, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=958. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, The Use of Child Soldiers in the Middle East and North Africa Region, prepared by Ibrahim Al-Marashi, pursuant to the Amman Conference on the Use of Children as Soldiers, April 8-10, 2001, 21-23; available from http://www.id.gov.jo/human/activities2000/middleeast_report.html.

2739 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Section 5.

2740 UNDP-Lebanon, Millennium Development Goals: Lebanon Report, prepared by Council for Development and Reconstruction, September 2003; available from http://www.un.org.lb/un/awms/uploadedFiles/MDGR%20English.pdf.

2741 ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments."

2742 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Section 5. See also UNDP, Arab Human Development Report 2002: Creating opportunities for future generations, Arab Fund For Economic and Social Development, New York, 2002, 55; available from http://www.undp.org/rbas/ahdr/CompleteEnglish.pdf.

2743 Partners for Development – Civil Group, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Lebanon, 38.

2744 Lebanese NGO Forum, Problems Encountered by Refugees, [online] [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://www.lnf.org.lb/migrationnetwork/ngo2.html.

2745 See Partners for Development – Civil Group, Gender, Education and Child Labour in Lebanon, 2, 24, 38, 60. See also ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments."

2746 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rates in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

2747 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for more information about sources used.

2748 For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

2749 ILO-IPEC, Child Labour on Tobacco Plantations: A Rapid Assessment, viii.

2750 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

2751 Code du Travail – Travail des enfants, Loi no 536, (July 24, 1996), Article 22; available from http://www.lebaneselaws.com/.

2752 Loi no. 91, Modifiant les dispositions des articles 23 et 25 du Code du travail, (June 14, 1999); available from http://natlex.ilo.org/scripts/natlexcgi.exe?lang=E. See also Code du Travail. Despite these protections, by virtue of Section 1 of the Labor Code, the scope of application of these regulations is limited to persons who work in an industrial, commercial or agricultural undertaking for a wage or for another kind of remuneration. See ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments."

2753 Decree No. 700, Prohibiting Employment of Young Persons under the Age of 16 or 17 in Occupations that are Hazardous by Nature or which Endanger Life, Health or Morals, (June 3), Articles 1-3; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/71934/72963/F1415871086/LBN71934.pdf. See also ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments."

2754 ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), "CEACR Comments". For currency conversions, See FXConverter, in Oanda.com, [online] [cited December 9, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

2755 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Sections 5 and 6c. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, March 1, 2005.

2756 ECPAT International, Lebanon, Protection.

2757 U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, March 1, 2005.

2758 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report 2004, Lebanon.

2759 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

2760 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Lebanon, Section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 11, 2003. See also Ministry of Labour, Unit for Combat of Child Labour in Lebanon, [online] [cited June 28, 2005]; available from http://www.clu.gov.lb.

2761 U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 31, 2005.

2762 Ibid.

2763 Ibid.

2764 ILO-IPEC, Consolidating Action against the Worst Forms of Child Labour, project document, 8.

2765 CHF International, Alternatives to Combat Child Labor through Educational and Sustainable Services in the Middle East and North Africa Region (ACCESS-MENA), technical progess report, Beirut, March 2005, 8.

2766 U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 31, 2005.

2767 The awareness raising campaigns were held in the regions of Sin el Fil and Burj Hammud (East Beirut), Sidon (South Lebanon) and Tripoli/Bab el Tebbaneh (North Lebanon). Ibid.

2768 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, March 1, 2005. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, January 28, 2005.2769 Nada Bakri and Leila Hatoum, "Rizk, Swiss FM Kick Off Project to Combat Human Trafficking," Daily Star (Beirut), November 1, 2005; available from http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=19748.2770 Through its ongoing collaboration with MOL, ILO-IPEC will implement direction action programs in the poverty belts of Beirut (north-eastern and southern suburbs); South Lebanon (Muhaffazat el-Nabbattiye and Saida); and North Lebanon (the cities of Tripoli and Akkar and the Beqaa area). These programs are aimed at the prevention, rehabilitation, and withdrawal of children from the worst forms of child labor. See ILO-IPEC, Consolidating Action against the Worst Forms of Child Labour, project document, 27-28. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 31, 2005. Among the activities already underway in the ILO-IPEC program are a survey to identify the hazardous industries involving child labor in Lebanon and focus groups with working children, ages 14 to 18, to identify the negative consequences of child labor. See U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, March 1, 2005.

2771 The project aims to provide education, skills training, and entrepreneurial opportunities to 4,500 working and at-risk children in seasonal agriculture in Akkar, industrial labor and domestic work in Bab el-Tebbaneh, urban work in Beirut, and tobacco cultivation in southern Lebanon. See CHF International, March 2005, technical progess report. See also U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 31, 2005.

2772 U.S. Embassy – Beirut, reporting, August 31, 2005.

2773 World Bank, General Education Project, in Projects Database, [online] [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P045174. See also World Bank, World Bank Approves Loan to Lebanon for General Education, press release, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2000; available from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,contentMDK:20017568~menuPK:34466~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~ theSitePK:4607,00.html.

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