Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 14:57 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Antigua and Barbuda

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 - Antigua and Barbuda, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7487a49.html [accessed 27 August 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

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has expressed its commitment to conducting research on child labor.105 Based upon a UNICEF-supported study on the needs of children and families, the government is developing a National Plan of Action on Child Survival, Development, and Protection while simultaneously implementing a public education campaign on child labor through the print and electronic media.106

In 1991, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda drafted a new educational policy to improve the effectiveness of schooling.107 Key achievements in terms of education in recent years include ensuring broad-based access to primary education for most children and providing a growing number of pre-primary education facilities for children.108 The government has employed officers to monitor school attendance and report their findings fortnightly to the Chief Education Officer and Education Officers. Children who are repeatedly absent from school may be placed in foster care, and the parents or guardians of these children may be prosecuted in court.109 The government plans to improve data collection, monitoring, and assessment systems for education; upgrade school facilities; provide support to improve education efficiency; and make education available to children with special needs, like the growing number of bilingual children in Antigua and Barbuda, children with disabilities, and children in conflict with the law.110

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 years in Antigua and Barbuda are unavailable, and there is limited information on the incidence and nature of child labor in the country.111 In 2002, the Minister of Planning, Implementation, and Public Service Affairs observed that the trafficking of children and women for sexual exploitation had reached alarming levels.112 In 2001, children as young as 13 years old were reportedly involved in an organized prostitution and pornography ring.113

Education is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 5 and 16 years.114 According to UNICEF, most children enjoy access to primary education, however there are no nationally available enrollment statistics for Antigua and Barbuda.115 The government and UNICEF have reported that Spanish-speaking children, children with disabilities, young mothers,116 and other children with special educational needs, face barriers to accessing primary education.117

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Women, Young Persons and Children Employment Provisions of the Labor Code set the minimum age for employment at 16 years.118 The provisions also establish that children less than 16 years of age cannot work more than eight hours in a 24-hour time period or during school hours.119 The Constitution prohibits slavery and forced labor.120

The Sexual Offences Act of 1995 raised the age of consent in Antigua and Barbuda from 14 to 16 years of age. The Sexual Offences Act also prohibits prostitution, including child prostitution, and makes the offense punishable with a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.121 There is no comprehensive law prohibiting trafficking in persons; however, existing laws on prostitution and labor provide a legal framework to prosecute individuals for trafficking offenses.122

The Ministry of Labor is required to conduct periodic inspections of workplaces.123 The police and social welfare departments investigate the criminal and social aspects of child labor.124 In August 2001, a case implicating high-ranking members of society in a child pornography and prostitution ring was prosecuted in court.125 Fines for those arrested were extremely low and some alleged offenders were, reportedly, allowed to leave the country permanently.126 Observers claimed that there was an effort to cover up the incidents rather than to prosecute in accordance with existing legislation for the protection of minors.127

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda ratified ILO Convention 138 on March 17, 1983 and ILO Convention 182 on September 16, 2002.128


105 Representatives from Antigua and Barbuda attended the ILO Caribbean Tripartite Meeting on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in December 1999, and based on what was learned at the meeting, they expressed a need to reassess the country's situation with regard to child labor sectors in prostitution and drug trafficking. See U.S. Embassy-Bridgetown, unclassified telegram 1773, September 2001. See also Lionel Hurst, Labour Commissioner of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, letter to USDOL official, October 18, 2001.

106 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 2562-63, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/wha/8274.htm. See also UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda, Caribbean Area Office, [online] 2001 [cited August 14, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef-cao.org/publications/Reports/PromiseToCaribbeanChildren/AntiguaBarbuda.html.

107 In 1990 Ministers of Education from the eight member countries that make up the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) met and established a regional educational reform agenda. According to the OECS Reform Strategy, areas for reform included education management, teacher and administrator training, and inadequate educational facilities including textbooks and learning materials. UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports – Antigua and Barbuda, prepared by Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Community Development, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 2000, [cited August 27, 2002]; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/antigua_barbuda/rapport_1.html.

108 UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda.

109 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Antigua and Barbuda, Analytic Section 2.2.1.

110 UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda. See also UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Antigua and Barbuda.111 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002. From general observation, children over twelve years old do engage in part time employment particularly during summer holidays, generally with parental consent and with the right to utilize their earnings independently. See Government of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda National Report on Follow Up to the World Summit for Children and Lima Accord, St. Johns, 2000, 7. According to various sources, there are no reports of child trafficking, forced labor or violations of the laws on the minimum age for employment. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 256364, Section 6d. See also Government of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda National Report, 7.

112 Gaston Browne, Minister of Planning Implementation and Public Service Affairs, Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children, May 10, 2002.

113 Given the economy's heavy reliance on tourism, government officials could not rule out the possibility of child prostitution or the involvement of children in drug trafficking. See Hurst, letter dated October 18, 2001. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 2562-63, Section 5.

114 According to the 1973 Education Act, it is mandatory for government to provide education to children between the ages of five and sixteen years. Thirty of the fifty-five primary schools in Antigua and Barbuda are public schools where schooling is free. The government also provides free textbooks and schooling supplies to private schools through the Board of Education. See UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Antigua and Barbuda.

115 Government of Antigua and Barbuda, Antigua and Barbuda National Report, 13.

116 Between 1990-1999, of 13,170 births nationally, 211 were to girls under 15, and 1391 were to girls under 18. Currently the government is working to provide educational opportunities to young mothers who have dropped out of school, however these efforts have been inadequate. See UNICEF, Social Policy, Development and Planning: Priorities, National Initiatives and Project Scope, Caribbean Area Office, [online] [cited November 26, 2001]; available from http://www.unicef-cao.bb/spdp1.htm.

117 UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda.

118 Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code, Division E, (1975), Sections E3-E5 (3) as cited in Hurst, letter dated October 18, 2001. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 2563-64, Section 6.

119 Division E, Labor Code, Section E3-E5 (3).

120 Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda, Chapter II, Article 6, (1981), [cited October 3, 2002]; available from http://
www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Antigua/ab81.html.

121 Sexual Offenses Act, Part II, (1995), [cited October 3, 2002]; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/vt/2.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Bridgetown, unclassified telegram 1773.

122 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 2563-64, Section 6d. Prostitution and drug trafficking laws establish penalties, including fines, confinement, confiscation of property, or a combination of the
three. See U.S. Embassy – Bridgetown, unclassified telegram 1773.

123 There is an Inspectorate in the Labor Ministry that handles exploitative child labor matters. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 2563-64, Section 6d.

124 Hurst, letter dated October 18, 2001, 3.

125 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 2562-63, Section 5.

126 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Antigua and Barbuda, 2562-63, Section 5.127 Ibid.

128 ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited August 29, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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