Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Suriname

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Suriname, 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca7541.html [accessed 23 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 Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138 
Ratified Convention 182 
ILO-IPEC Associated MemberX
National Plan for ChildrenX
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The ILO estimated that less than 1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years in Suriname were working in 2002.[3758] According to the ILO, economically active children work in agriculture, fishing, timber production, mining, domestic service, construction, the furniture industry, and as street vendors.[3759] The ILO found that while hours of work vary substantially, 41 percent of those surveyed worked more than 5 hours per day. Children also work without adult supervision in some cases.[3760] Commercial sexual exploitation of girls and boys is allegedly increasing in Suriname.[3761] There were reports of girls being trafficked to and through the country for commercial sexual exploitation.[3762] Sexual exploitation of Maroon girls in the interior of the country is also reportedly a concern.[3763] Young Maroon children also work in the transportation and agricultural sectors.[3764]

The Constitution of Suriname mandates free and compulsory primary education.[3765] Despite this Constitutional guarantee, most public schools impose school fees.[3766] Under the Compulsory School Attendance Act, children in Suriname must be provided with the opportunity to attend school between ages 7 and 12.[3767] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 125.8 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 97.4 percent.[3768] 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. In 2000, the net primary attendance rate was 78 percent. School attendance is significantly lower in the rural interior than in the rest of the country at 61.2 percent. As of 2000, 84.0 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.[3769] Problems within the education system include an inefficient allocation of resources, low teacher quality, outdated curricula, a shortage of instructional materials, and limited monitoring of school performance. Less than 1 percent of children finish senior secondary school (12 years of schooling).[3770] In addition, classes are taught in Dutch.[3771] Although the government covers the majority of primary school costs, parents must pay school registration fees and provide school supplies and uniforms. These costs limit access to education for children from poor and large families.[3772] Lack of transportation, appropriate facilities, and a teacher shortage also present barriers to school attendance.[3773] Parents who permit their children to work, in violation of child labor laws, can be prosecuted.[3774]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Act sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.[3775] Under Article 18 of the Labor Act, children who have reached age 12 may work if it is necessary for training or is specifically designed for children, does not require much physical or mental exertion, and is not dangerous.[3776] Article 20 of the Labor Act prohibits children from performing night work or work that is dangerous to their health, life, or morals.[3777] Children below the age of 15 are prohibited from working on fishing boats. Violations of child labor laws are punishable by fines and up to 12 months in prison.[3778]

The Constitution prohibits forced labor.[3779] Prostitution is illegal,[3780] and procuring a minor child for sexual activities is prohibited and punishable with up to three years in prison.[3781] The legal age for sexual consent is 14 years.[3782]

The Ministry of Labor's Department of Labor Inspections, in cooperation with the Juvenile Police Division, enforces child labor laws.[3783] However, due to staff shortages and lack of funding, child labor investigations are inadequate and do not take place outside of urban areas.[3784] The Labor Inspection office does not enforce the laws in the informal sector.[3785] No violations of child labor laws were reported in 2003.[3786] The Ministry of Social Affairs' Bureau for Child Rights is responsible for implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.[3787]

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

The Government of Suriname developed a Policy Plan Concerning Children 2002-2006, which addresses child policies and the worst forms of child labor.[3788] The government coordinates with ILO/IPEC on the second phase of a regional child labor project in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. The project aims to identify and raise awareness about specific worst forms of child labor in Suriname, establish a national child labor committee, and train labor inspectors and other personnel.[3789]

The Justice Department has been reviewing national legislation on child abuse and exploitation to ensure its conformity with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The Bureau for Child Development, an office within the Foundation for Human Development, provides training to the Department of Justice, the police, and health workers to sensitize them to child rights and child abuse issues. This exercise is now a standard component of police cadet training.[3790] The Ministry of Justice and Police heads an anti-trafficking commission comprised of several government ministries and a local NGO. The Public Prosecutor's Office established a "Special Victims Unit" and telephone hotline to assist victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.[3791] In July, members of government and civil society attended a one-day counter-trafficking training session provided by the IOM that focused on strengthening their capacity to respond to the trafficking of women and children.[3792] A follow-up 2-day counter-trafficking seminar was held in October 2004 for government counterparts, NGOs, and community representatives.[3793]

The Ministry of Education and Community Development will implement an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded project to reform the education sector. Project activities include the creation of a new curriculum, teacher training, rehabilitation of schools, improving school management, and building the capacity of the Ministry of Education and Community Development.[3794]


[3758] According to the ILO, 0.4 percent of children were working. See World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2004.

[3759] Marten Schalkwijk and Wim van den Berg, Suriname The Situation of Children in Mining, Agriculture, and other Worst Forms of Child Labour: A Rapid Assessment, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, Port of Spain, November 2002, 30, 46, 52, 60; available from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/system_links/link6tst.html.

[3760] Ibid., 49, 70.

[3761] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report of States Parties Due in 1995, CRC/C/28/Add.11, prepared by Government of Suriname, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 1998, para 166; available from http://www.hri.ca/fortherecord2000/documentation/tbodies/crc-c-28-add11.htm. See also Marten Schalkwijk and Wim van den Berg, Suriname The Situation of Children in Mining, Agriculture, and other Worst Forms of Child Labour, 46. See also Arnold Halfhide Ambassador of Suriname to the United States, letter to USDOL official, November 29, 2000.

[3762] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Suriname, Washington, D.C., February 25, 2004, Section 6f; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27920.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Suriname, Washington, DC, June 14, 2004; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2004/33198.htm.

[3763] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 431, June, 2004. Maroon people are descendants of African slaves and have a distinct culture based on African and Amerindian traditions. Numbering approximately 60,000 people, they represent 15% of the total population in Suriname. See Suriname Background, Rainforest Foundation US, 2004 [cited November 30, 2004]; available from http://www.rainforestfoundation.org/1surinameback.html.

[3764] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 678, August 2004.

[3765] Right to Education, Constitutional Guarantees: Suriname, [database online] [cited March 24, 2004], Article 39; available from http://www.right-to-education.org/content/consguarant/suriname.html.

[3766] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Suriname, Section 5.

[3767] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties: Suriname, para. 118.

[3768] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004. For a detailed explanation of gross primary enrollment and/or attendance rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definitions of gross primary enrollment rate and gross primary attendance rate in the glossary of this report.

[3769] Government of Suriname, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2 – Suriname: Final Report (draft), UNICEF, March 2001, 6; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/surinam/surinamreport.PDF.

[3770] IDB, Profile I – Suriname: Support for Primary Education, project document, February 10, 2000, 2-4; available from http://www.iadb.org/EXR/doc98/pro/psu0023.pdf.

[3771] Ibid., 4.

[3772] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 810, October 2001. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Suriname, Section 5.

[3773] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Suriname, Section 5.

[3774] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 678.

[3775] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 810.

[3776] Ambassador of Suriname to the United States, letter, November 29, 2000.

[3777] Ibid.

[3778] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 568, September 8, 2003.

[3779] Constitution of Suriname 1987, with 1992 reforms, Article 15; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Suriname/english.html.

[3780] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2004: Suriname.

[3781] Article 305 as cited in Suriname: Articles relating to trafficking of women and children, prostitution, coercion, and procuring, in The Protection Project Legal Library, [database online] [cited April 30, 2004]; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/Suriname.pdf.

[3782] See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Suriname, Section 5.

[3783] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 810. See also U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 568. See also U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 678.

[3784] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 568. See also U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 810.

[3785] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 972, October 16, 2002. See also U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 568.

[3786] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 568.

[3787] U.S. Embassy-Paramaribo, unclassified telegram no. 678.

[3788] The government established a steering committee composed of representatives from relevant agencies to coordinate and implement the plan. See Department of Labour, Technological Development, and Environment, Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour, October 11, 2002.

[3789] The project is being implemented in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bahamas, Suriname, Belize, and Guyana. ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, May 4, 2004.

[3790] ECPAT International, Suriname, in ECPAT International, [database online] 2003 [cited July 7, 2003]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

[3791] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Suriname, Section 6f.

[3792] Niurka Pineiro, Suriname – Counter-Trafficking Training for National Authorities, IOM, July 16, 2004 [cited August 20, 2004]; available from http://www.iom.int/en/news/pbn160704.shtml.

[3793] Jean Phillipe Chauzy, Suriname – Counter-Trafficking Seminar, Press Briefing Notes, IOM, October 26, 2004.

[3794] Suriname, IDB Sign Loans for Education and Health, Inter-American Development Bank, March 31, 2004 [cited April 7, 2004]; available from http://www.iadb.org/NEWS/display/PRView.cfm?PR_Num=73_04&Language=English.

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