Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Samoa

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 - Samoa, 29 August 2006, available at: [accessed 28 November 2015]
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 138N/A
Ratified Convention 182N/A
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 the age of 15 in Samoa are unavailable.4124 Children work in rural areas selling agricultural products at roadside stands4125 and in the capital city vending goods and food on the streets.4126 Some children are reportedly forced to work for their village or its chief ("matai"), primarily on village farms. However, current law does not pertain to service to the matai, and therefore such labor is not perceived as a violation.4127

Although by law education in Samoa is compulsory through age 14, the U.S. Department of State reports that the government has been unable to enforce compliance and children whose families cannot afford to pay school fees do not attend.4128 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 105 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 98 percent.4129 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. Primary school attendance statistics are not available for Samoa.4130 In 2000, 94 percent of first graders reached grade 5.4131

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor and Employment Act of 1972 sets the minimum age of employment at 15 except in "safe and light" work suited to the child's capacities.4132 A child under the age of 15 is not permitted to work with dangerous machinery under conditions that are likely to harm physical or moral health or on a vessel that is not under the personal charge of his or her parent or guardian.4133

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Samoa. The Constitution prohibits forced or bonded labor;4134 however, work or service that is required by Samoan custom or fulfills a "normal civic obligation" is not prohibited.4135 The Penal Code makes prostitution and the procurement of women and girls illegal in Samoa.4136 The kidnapping of an individual with the intent to transport the individual out of the country or hold the individual for service is a crime punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment.4137 In addition, it is against the law to abduct any child under the age of 16 years, and to detain or take away any woman or girl with intent to cause her to have sexual intercourse with any other person.4138

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for responding to complaints about illegal child labor.4139 Situations requiring enforcement of law are referred to the Attorney General.4140

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

The Government of Samoa has been implementing its Second Economic Strategy, entitled "Strengthening the Partnership." Included in the program are policies and strategies crafted by the Department of Education to improve the education system in the ten year timeframe between 1995 and 2005. The main goals have been to provide education based on equity, quality, relevancy, and efficiency.4141

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, in connection with the ILO, has also secured funding from the UNDP to establish a National Training Authority that will set standards to meet labor market demands and develop a policy framework for an education system that is responsive to market needs. The program is scheduled to run through 2007.4142 Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) recently sponsored a USD 5.53 million bilateral program in Samoa to supply education materials to primary education.4143

Other resources to improve education have come by way of loans. The ADB has agreed to loan Samoa USD 5 million for the education sector.4144 The loan is intended to improve access to schools for outer island residents, make the education system more efficient, and provide better quality education.4145

4124 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used. 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.

4125 U.S. Embassy – Apia, reporting, October 2001. Also Lemalu Tate Simi, email communication to USDOL official, June 23, 2005.

4126 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Samoa, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005; available from

4127 Ibid. "Matai" A head of state or unicameral legislature elected by universal suffrage and in practice composed primarily of the heads of extended families.

4128 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Samoa, section 5.

4129 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rate in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4130 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of the report for information about sources used.

4131 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

4132 Government of Samoa, Labour and Employment Act, (1972); available from

4133 Ibid.

4134 Constitution of the Independent State of Western Samoa, (May 1, 1920); available from

4135 Ibid.

4136 Receiving income from the prostitution of another person or soliciting for a prostitute regardless of whether compensation is received, is illegal under the Samoan Penal Code. See Government of Samoa, Crimes Ordinance, (January 1, 1961); available from

4137 Ibid.

4138 The crime is punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment. See Ibid.

4139 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Samoa. section 6.

4140 No cases were prosecuted during 2004. Ibid.

4141 UNESCO, EFA Goals and Targets, 2005; available from

4142 UNDP, Samoa Country Programme 2004-2007, 2004 [cited May 18, 2004]; available from

4143 AusAID, Aid Activities in Samoa, 2004 [cited May 18, 2004]; available from

4144 ADB, ADB Programs $15 million for Education and Energy, June 28, 2005; available from

4145 Ibid.

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