Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 13:40 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Mali

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 - Mali, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7494215.html [accessed 24 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2005:65.8%2655
Minimum age for admission to work:142656
Age to which education is compulsory:122657
Free public education:Yes2658*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:64%2659
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:46%2660
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2005:44.8%2661
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:79%2662
Ratified Convention 138:3/11/20022663
Ratified Convention 182:7/14/20002664
ILO-IPEC Participating Country:Yes, associated2665
* Must pay for uniforms, school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2005, approximately 66.6 percent of boys and 64.9 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 were working in Mali. The majority of working children in Mali were found in the agricultural sector (58.2 percent), followed by services (39.5 percent), manufacturing (1.9 percent), and other sectors (0.4 percent).2666 In some cases, children work as street beggars as part of their religious instruction in Koranic schools. Money received from begging on the streets is reportedly used to support these schools. It is also reported in a study in one city that children spend more time begging on the streets than they spend learning in classrooms.2667

Mali is an origin, transit, and destination country for children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Most trafficking of children is internal. Children have been trafficked internally to the central regions to work in rice fields. Boys have been trafficked to work in other forms of agriculture, gold mining, and begging.2668 Girls were also trafficked from Nigeria for sexual exploitation.2669

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment and apprenticeship is 14 years.2670 The law allows for children 12 to 14 to be employed with the express authorization of their parents or guardians if they work in the same establishment as and beside their parents or guardians. However, these children may not be employed for more than 4.5 hours per day (2 hours a day if they are in school).2671 Children under 18 years are not allowed to engage in work that threatens their safety or morals, exceeds 8 hours per day or their physical capacity, or occurs at night.2672

The law prohibits forced or obligatory labor.2673 It also makes child trafficking punishable by 5 to 20 years of imprisonment.2674 The government requires that Malian children under 18 carry travel documents to slow cross-border trafficking.2675 However, a 2005 study published by Save the Children and UNICEF concluded that the legislation is largely ineffective and may result in the increased vulnerability of children because of corruption.2676 The law establishes penalties for sexual exploitation and abuse, however, prostitution is legal.2677 The minimum age for military conscription into the National Youth Service is 18, and military service is reported to be voluntary in practice.2678

Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and State Reforms conduct surprise and complaint-based inspections in the formal sector, but according to the U.S. Department of State, lack of resources limit the frequency and effectiveness of the monitoring and enforcement of child labor laws.2679 ILO-IPEC led the National Campaign against Child labor, which is responsible for investigating cases of abusive labor reported by NGOs or the media. ILO-IPEC depends on government monitors to carry out these investigations.2680 Enforcement efforts to combat trafficking were limited with only two cases prosecuted during the year. Investigations in trafficking that had begun in 2004 were still open in 2006.2681

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

In July 2006, Mali was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa and the Joint Plan of Action Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in the West and Central African Regions.2682 As part of the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement, the governments agreed to put into place the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the U.S. Department of Labor-funded, ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to ensure that birth certificates and travel identity documents cannot easily be falsified or altered; to provide assistance to each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to improve educational systems, vocational training and apprenticeships.2683

The Government of Mali participates in a USD 9.5 million regional USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC project to combat the trafficking of children for exploitive labor in West and Central Africa. The project targets 9,000 children for withdrawal and prevention from trafficking in 6 countries, including Mali.2684 The government is also participating in a USDOL-funded program to increase access to quality basic education for children at risk of trafficking in Mali. This project aims to withdraw 250 children and prevent 6,000 from trafficking.2685 ILO-IPEC is also implementing a Time Bound Preparation Project that aims to withdraw 3,000, children and prevent 6,000, from exploitive work in agriculture, mining, the urban informal sector, as well as domestic service from commercial sexual exploitation.2686

The Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children, and Family and the Ministry of Labor and Civil Service cooperated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Territorial Administration to develop a program of identification, rehabilitation, education of the population, and strengthening of the legal system's stance on the trafficking of minors.2687 As an element of this initiative, the government provides temporary shelter and protection to victims at welcome centers in several cities to help child trafficking victims return to their families.2688


2655 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

2656 Government of Mali, Decret no. 96-178/P-RM portant Application de Diverses Dispositions de la Loi no 92-20 portant Code du travail (June 13, 1996), Article 187; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/44399/65027/F96MLI01.htm

2657 U.S. Department of State, "Mali," 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/2006/78745.htm.

2658 Ibid.

2659 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

2660 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

2661 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

2662 Ibid.

2663 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 20, 2006 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

2664 Ibid.

2665 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labor – Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

2666 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

2667 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Mali," Section 5. See also CARE, A Better Future for Mali's Children: Combating Child Trafficking through Education, Project Document, Atlanta, October 1, 2003.

2668 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Mali."

2669 Ibid., Section 5.

2670 Government of Mali, Loi no 92-020 portant Code du Travail, (September 23, 1992); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/webtext/32274/64878/F92MLI01.htm.

2671 Government of Mali, Code du travail, Articles D.189-35 & D.189-36.

2672 Ibid., Articles D.189-14, D.189-15, and D.189-16. See also U.S. Department of State, "Mali," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61580.htm.

2673 Government of Mali, Code du travail, Article 6.

2674 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Mali," Section 5.

2675 Government of Mali, Government of Mali, Déterminant les spécifications techniques du titre de voyage tenant lieu d'autorisation de sortie pour les enfants âgés de zéro à dix-huit ans, (February 20, 2002). See also Integrated Regional Information Network, "Mali: Children to Carry Mandatory Travel Documents", IRINnews.org, [online], August 10, 2001 [cited August 10, 2006]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=10452&SelectRegion=West_Africa&SelectCountry.

2676 Sarah Castle and Aisse Diarra, The International Migration of Young Malians: Tradition, Necessity or Rite of Passage, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2004.

2677 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Mali," Section 5. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1992: Mali, CRC/C/3/Add.53, prepared by Republic of Mali, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 1997; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.3.Add.53.En?OpenDocument.

2678 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Mali," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=784.

2679 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Mali," Section 6d.

2680 Ibid.

2681 U.S. Department of State, "Mali (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65989.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Bamako, reporting, May 26, 2005.

2682 ECOWAS and ECASS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), technical progress report, Washington, DC, September 1, 2006.

2683 ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, September 2006 technical progress report.

2684 Ibid.

2685 U.S. Department of Labor International Child Labor Program, A Better Future for Mali's Children: Combating Child Trafficking through Education, project document, 2003.

2686 U.S. Department of Labor, Support for the Preparation of the Mali Timebound Program, project summary sheet, September 2006.

2687 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Mali," Section 5.

2688 Ibid.

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