Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August 2014, 11:05 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burkina Faso

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Burkina Faso, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46230.html [accessed 21 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor497
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2003:47
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2003:46.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2003:47.7
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2003:
     – Agriculture97.4
     – Manufacturing0.4
     – Services2.0
     – Other0.2
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:56
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:44
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2003:27.2
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:76
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

The majority of economically active children in Burkina Faso are found in the agricultural sector, usually working on family farms, and in some cases as paid laborers.498 Work on farms, especially cotton farms, can involve exposure to harmful pesticides.499 Children work in hazardous conditions in the mining sector, especially gold mines.500 Children also work as domestic servants.501 The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a tradition in various countries, including Burkina Faso.502 While some boys receive lessons, others are forced by their teachers to beg and surrender the money that they have earned or to work in fields.503

Burkina Faso is a destination, transit and source country for children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.504 Children are trafficked to work in domestic service, agriculture, prostitution, mining, and work in quarries. Burkina Faso is also a destination country for children trafficked from Nigeria and Mali. Children from Burkina Faso are trafficked into Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo.505 Children from West and Northwest Burkina Faso, especially from the Dogon, Samo and Dafing ethnic groups, have a higher risk of being trafficked.506

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years. Children under 18 years are prohibited from working at night. However, in an instance of force majeure, children aged 16 or older are permitted to do so.507 A decree lists the types of work and enterprises in which children under 18 years are forbidden to work in such as work in slaughterhouses or with explosives.508 Under the law, children and adolescents under 20 years may not undertake work that could harm their reproductive abilities.509 Violations of minimum age laws are subject to imprisonment of up to 5 years.510

The law defines and prohibits the worst forms of child labor for children following ILO Convention 182. Slavery and slavery-like practices, inhumane and cruel treatment, and physical or emotional abuse of children are forbidden by the Constitution.511 The law also prohibits forced and compulsory labor.512 Violations of forced labor laws are subject to imprisonment of up to 10 years.513 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the military is 20 years, and 18 years for compulsory recruitment.514

The law prohibits child trafficking for economic or sexual exploitation; illegal adoption; early or forced marriage; or any other purpose that is harmful to a child's health, well-being, or physical or mental development. Anyone who engages in child trafficking, or who is aware of a child trafficking case and does not report it, is subject to 1 to 5 years of imprisonment. The penalty is increased to 5 to 10 years of imprisonment if the child is under 15 years or if the act was committed using fraud or violence.515 These penalties also apply to violations of laws prohibiting the worst forms of child labor.516

The penal code forbids any involvement in prostitution, explicitly prohibiting the prostitution of persons less than 18 years old and the debauchery of a minor; such violations are punishable by 2 to 5 years of imprisonment and fines.517 Penalties specified for these crimes apply regardless of the country in which the offenses are committed.518

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security and the Ministry of Social Action and National Solidarity are responsible for enforcing child labor laws.519 Labor inspectors, police, gendarmes, and customs service agents share responsibility for investigating child labor violations. Burkina Faso employs 39 labor inspectors, one of whom acts to coordinate on child labor issues in each region. However, none of the inspectors are dedicated exclusively to child labor.520 The Office for the Protection of Infants and Adolescents reported in 2007-2008 that security forces rescued 312 trafficked children and arrested 23 child traffickers. By the end of 2007, five of these traffickers had been sentenced, while eight had been cleared of any charges.521

Burkina Faso was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.522 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.523

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

On April 11, 2007, the Government adopted a National Action Plan against Trafficking in Persons as part of its National Social Action Policy.524 With funding from UNICEF, the Government undertook awareness raising activities regarding the worst forms of child labor, including trafficking in gold mines and cotton fields.525 The Government also created a call center for children in Ouagadougou within the framework of its fight against the worst forms of child labor.526

There is one reintegration center in the capital for at-risk children, and Burkina Faso operates 21 transit centers throughout the country for trafficked children. The Government cooperates with NGOs and international organizations to reintegrate child trafficking victims. The Government also supports Vigilance and Surveillance Committees throughout the country and has trained them on how to identify and assist trafficking victims.527

In 2007, Burkina Faso participated in the Combating the Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Phases 1 & 2 (LUTRENA) regional project, funded by USDOL at USD 9.28 million and implemented by ILO-IPEC, to combat the trafficking of children for exploitive labor. During Phase II, from July 2001 to December 2007 (when the project ended) the project withdrew 4,240 children and prevented 7,213 children from trafficking in the region.528 The Government also took part in a USD 3 million USDOL-funded child labor education project that ended in September 2007. The project reached 2,285 victims of child trafficking and children at risk of being trafficked through the promotion of education, including the building of 20 schools.529 The Government continues to participate in a USD 3 million USDOL-funded regional ILO-IPEC project to combat child labor in small-scale gold mining.

The project targets 1,500 children to be withdrawn and 2,500 children to be prevented from exploitive work in gold mining in Burkina Faso and Niger.530

The Government of Burkina Faso is cooperating on a USD 325,000 regional ILO-IPEC project funded by the Government of Denmark to combat the trafficking of children for labor purposes. Additionally, Burkina Faso cooperated on two French-funded ILO-IPEC projects, one regional and one inter-regional, that ended in December 2007. The funding levels were respectively USD 3.1 and 3.6 million.531 The Government of Burkina Faso continues to participate in a USD 4.9 million French-funded regional ILO-IPEC project that runs until December 31, 2009. 532 These French-funded projects aim to eliminate child labor by improving vocational training, apprenticeships, and government capacity building.533


497 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Burkina Faso, Loi n° 033-2004/AN portant code du travail au Burkina Faso, (September 14, 2004), article 147; available from http://www.legiburkina.bf/jo/jo2004/no_spécial_02/Loi_AN_2004_00033.htm. See also Government of Burkina Faso, Loi n° 13-96 ADP du 9 mai portant loi d'orientation de l'éducation, (May 9, 1996), article 2, 6.

498 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank Surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007. See also Albertine de Lange, "Burkina Faso" Education in Rural Area: Obstacles and Relevance, International Research on Working Children, 2007, 48-49; available from http://www.childlabour.net/docs/Education%20Summaries_final_21NOV2007.pdf.

499 Albertine de Lange, "Going to Kompienga" A Study on Child Labour Migration and Trafficking in Burkina Faso's South-Eastern Cotton Sector International Research on Working Children, 2006, 23 and 27; available from http://www.childlabour.net/docs/Education%20Summaries_final_21NOV2007.pdf.

500 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor in Mining in West Africa, Project Document, Geneva, September 30, 2005, 1-5 and 36.

501 Lange, Education in Rural Areas, 49. See also ILO-IPEC, Hazardous Child Domestic Work: A Briefing Sheet, Briefing Sheet, Geneva, 2007, 20; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do;?productId=4044.

502 Peter Easton et al., Research Studies Series no. 8, International Working Group on Nonformal Education of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, May 1997; available from http://www.adeanet.org/wgnfe/publications/abel/abel2.html. See also Peter Easton, "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa," IK Notes no. 11 (August 1999), 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/iknt11.pdf.

503 Save the Children-Canada, Training and Education Against Trafficking (TREAT), Technical Progress Report, Toronto, March 3, 2007, 22 and 32.

504 U.S. Department of State, "Burkina Faso (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also Brad Kress, Burkina Faso: Testing the Tradition of Circular Migration, Migration Policy Institute, May, 2006; available from http://www.migrationinformation.org/Profiles/print.cfm?ID=399.

505 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, May 7, 2007. See also Kress, Burkina Faso: Testing the Tradition of Circular Migration. See also ILO-IPEC LUTRENA, La Traite des Enfants Aux Fins D'Exploitation De Leur Travail Dans Les Mines d'Or D'Issia Cote D'Ivoire, Research Report, Cote D'Ivoire, 2005.

506 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, March 3, 2008, para 2a.

507 Government of Burkina Faso, Code du travail, articles 146, 147. Government of Burkina Faso, Décret n° 2004-451-PRES du 15 octobre 2004 promulguant la loi n° 033-2004/AN du 14 septembre 2004 portant Code du travail, (October 15, 2004); available from http://www.legiburkina.bf/jo/jo2004/no_spécial_02/Décret_PRES_2004_00451.htm.

508 Government of Burkina Faso, Code du travail, articles 147 and 148. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA) -Responses to ICLP Comments, IPEC Responses, Geneva, March 2005, 1.

509 Government of Burkina Faso, Code du travail, article 145.

510 Ibid., article 388. See also U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, May 7, 2007.

511 Government of Burkina Faso, Constitution du Burkina Faso, Loi N° 002/97/ADP, (January 27, 1997), article 2.

512 Government of Burkina Faso, Code du travail, articles 5 and 6.

513 Ibid., articles 388 and 390. See also U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, May 7, 2007.

514 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Burkina Faso," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=760.

515 Government of Burkina Faso, Loi n° 038-2003/AN portant définition et répression du trafic d'enfant(s), (May 27, 2003), articles 3-6; available from http://www.legiburkina.bf/jo/jo2003/no_31/Loi_AN_2003_00038.htm.

516 Government of Burkina Faso, Code du travail, articles 148 and 390. See also U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, May 7, 2007.

517 Government of Burkina Faso, Penal Code, Section IV-Offenses against Public Morals, (April 13, 1946), articles 334 and 334-1; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/BURKINAFASO.pdf. U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 31, 2007.

518 Government of Burkina Faso, Penal Code, articles 334 and 334-1.

519 U.S. Department of State, "Burkina Faso," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100468.htm. See also Government of Burkina Faso, Code du travail, articles 388 and 390.

520 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, March 3, 2008, para 1b.

521 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Burkina Faso," section 5.

522 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 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, 2.

523 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical progress Report, 10-11.

524 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, May 7, 2007, para 2. See also U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, March 3, 2008, para 5f.

525 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Elimination of Child Labour in Artisanal Gold Mining in West Africa, Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 12, 2007.

526 Save the Children-Canada, TREAT, March 2007 Technical Progress Report, 16.

527 U.S. Embassy – Ouagadougou, reporting, March 3, 2008, para 4b.

528 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA) project document, Geneva, 2001, cover page. See also ILO-IPEC, Amendment to Project Document "Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa", Project Document Amendment Geneva, September 3, 2004. 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, 2007, 1-3. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, LUTRENA Project Table III.C. Final Report March 2008 E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 24, 2008.

529 Save the Children -Canada, Training and Education Against Trafficking (TREAT), Project Document, Toronto, 2004. See also Save the Children – Canada, Training and Education Against Trafficking (TREAT), Technical Progress Report, Toronto, August 7, 2007.

530 ILO-IPEC, Regional Mining, Project Document, cover page.

531 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 13, 2007. See also ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, February 27, 2008.

532 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication, December 13, 2007. See also ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication, February 27, 2008.

533 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication, February 27, 2008.

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