Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Costa Rica

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 - Costa Rica, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7492c58.html [accessed 29 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2002:5.9%1139
Minimum age for admission to work:151140
Age to which education is compulsory:151141
Free public education:Yes1142
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:112%1143
Net primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2002:90.1%1144
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:92%1145
Ratified Convention 138:6/11/19761146
Ratified Convention 182:9/10/20011147
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes1148

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2002 in Costa Rica, the majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (57.0 percent), followed by services (30.9 percent), manufacturing (7.3 percent), and other sectors (4.8 percent).1149 The rate of child work is higher in rural than in urban areas.1150 In rural areas, children work principally in agriculture, forestry, hunting, and trade and repair activities. In urban areas, children work mainly in trade and repair activities, construction and manufacturing.1151

According to the National Institute for Children (PANI), commercial sexual exploitation of children is a problem in Costa Rica, with an unknown but significant number of children involved.1152 Children in San José, Limón, and Puntarenas are at high risk. From January to June 2006, minors in 163 sexual exploitation cases were assisted.1153 Child sex tourism is a serious problem, with children trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation and forced labor.1154 Girls are trafficked into Costa Rica from other countries for commercial sexual exploitation.1155

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years and prohibits minors under 18 years from working at night; in mines, bars, and businesses that sell alcohol; in unsafe and unhealthy places; in activities where they are responsible for their own safety or the safety of other minors; and where they are required to work with dangerous equipment, contaminated substances, or excessive noise.1156 However, adolescents under 18 years are prohibited from working for more than 6 hours a day or 36 hours a week.1157 Children from 12 to 15 may work up to 5 hours per day or 30 hours per week. Children 12 to 18 years old may work longer hours in agriculture and ranching, within the limitations established for the general workday schedules.1158 Violations of minimum age and child labor standards are punishable by fines.1159

Forced labor is prohibited under the law.1160 Costa Rica does not have armed forces, and the minimum age for recruitment to the police force is 18 years.1161 The penalty for paid sexual relations with a minor under age 12 is 4 to 10 years in prison; 3 to 8 years if the victim is 12 to 15 years; and 2 to 6 years if the victim is 15 to 18 years.1162 The penalty for procuring a minor under 18 for prostitution or for keeping the minor in prostitution or in sexual slavery is 4 to 10 years in prison. The penalty for pimping a minor under age 12 is 4 to 10 years in prison; and 3 to 9 years if the victim is between 12 and 18.1163 The penalty for promoting, facilitating or aiding the trafficking of minors for commercial sexual exploitation or slave labor is 4 to 10 years in prison.1164

The Inspections Directorate of the Ministry of Labor is responsible for investigating child labor violations and enforcing child labor laws.1165 According to the U.S. Department of State, Inspections Directorate officials acknowledge that their effectiveness at enforcing child labor laws is severely limited by lack of resources.1166

PANI and the Ministry of Labor carry out investigations and provide protection to child victims of sexual exploitation.1167 In particular, the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Domestic Violence and Sexual Crimes for the San Jose Area enforces prohibitions against the sexual exploitation of children.1168 As many as seven government agencies are responsible for combating trafficking and commercial exploitation of children, with many investigations started by the various agencies.1169 However, according to the U.S. Department of State, witness intimidation, lack of resources and poor coordination among the agencies inhibit enforcement efforts.1170 An Inter-Ministerial Group on Trafficking carries out efforts to raise awareness and promote law enforcement.1171

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

The National Agenda for Children and Adolescents, 2000-2010, includes strategies to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labor.1172 In May 2006, the government began economic subsidies for poor adolescents in the formal and non-formal education system to reduce child labor.1173 In addition, the Government of Costa Rica has launched the Second National Action Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and Special Protection of Adolescent Workers 2005-2010.1174 The government also had a Master Plan on Children and Adolescents, which included a plan to combat commercial sexual exploitation of children.1175

The Government of Costa Rica continues to participate in a USD 8.8 million regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by ILO-IPEC aimed at combating commercial sexual exploitation of children.1176 The project aims to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region.1177 The Government of Costa Rica is also participating in a USD 5.5 million USDOL-funded regional Child Labor Education Initiative Program implemented by CARE, which seeks to strengthen government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education.1178 This project seeks to withdraw or prevent 190 children from entering exploitive labor.1179 A USDOL-funded ILO-IPECimplemented USD 3 million regional project to combat child labor in commercial agriculture ended in 2006.1180 The project withdrew 2,309 children and prevented 2,693 children from the region from exploitive labor.1181


1139 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

1140 Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, (1998), Article 78.

1141 U.S. Department of State, "Costa Rica," in Country Report on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/.

1142 Ibid.

1143 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1144 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1145 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

1146 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 18, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/ratifce.pl?Costa+Rica.

1147 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 18, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/ratifce.pl?Costa+Rica.

1148 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labor – Highlights 2006, [online] February, 2007 [cited March 29 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

1149 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1150 Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Censo, Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguro Social, and ILO-IPEC, National Report on the Results of the Child and Adolescent Labour Survey in Costa Rica, San José, 2003, 26.

1151 Ibid., 32.

1152 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Costa Rica," Section 5.

1153 Ibid.

1154 U.S. Department of State, "Costa Rica (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65988.htm.

1155 Ibid.

1156 Government of Costa Rica, Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, 1998, Articles 2, 92, and 94. See also, Government of Costa Rica, Código de Trabajo, Articles 88 and 89.

1157 Government of Costa Rica, Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, 1998, Article 95.

1158 Government of Costa Rica, Código de Trabajo, Article 89.

1159 Government of Costa Rica, Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, 1998, Article 101.

1160 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Costa Rica," Section 6c.

1161 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Costa Rica," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=821.

1162 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties, CRC/C/OPSC/CRI/1, prepared by Government of Costa Rica, pursuant to Article 12 (1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography: Costa Rica, December 12, 2005.

1163 Ibid.

1164 Ibid.

1165 Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social, Poder Ejecutivo Directriz: Manual de Procedimientos de la Dirección Nacional de Inspección, San José, 2-3; available from http://www.ministrabajo.go.cr/Informacion%20General/Cartera%20de%20servicios/Direccion%20Nacional%2 0de%20Inspeccion.htm#Atención%20de%20trabajadores%20menores%20de%20edad. See also U.S. Embassy – San Jose, reporting, September 6, 2005.

1166 U.S. Embassy – San Jose, reporting, September 6, 2005.

1167 Government of Costa Rica, Report and Comments on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Costa Rica, submitted in response to U.S. Department of Labor Federal Register Notice (July 14, 2004) "Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor", Embassy of Costa Rica in the United States, August 23, 2004.

1168 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Costa Rica," Section 5.

1169 Ibid.

1170 Ibid.

1171 Ibid.

1172 Government of Costa Rica, Agenda Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia: Metas y Compromisos, 2000-2010, San José, September 2000, 11, 21.

1173 ILO-IPEC, Stop the Exploitation. Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, technical progress report, San José, September 30, 2006, 15.

1174 Government of Costa Rica, Segundo Plan Nacional de Acción para la Prevención, Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil y Para la Protección Especial de las Personas Adolescentes Trabajadoras, Costa Rica, 2005-2010, San José, 2005; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_eti_costa_rica.pdf.

1175 Government of Costa Rica, Plan Maestro Ninez y Adolescencia, 2002-2006, San José, 2002.

1176 ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, project document, RLA/02/P51/USA, 2002, 2005.

1177 Ibid.

1178 CARE USA, APRENDO Project. Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, project document, 2004.

1179 CARE USA, Technical Progress Report: Combating Child Labor Through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic "Primero Aprendo", September 30, 2006, 10.

1180 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labour in Agriculture in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic (Phase II), project document, September 30, 2003.

1181 ILO-IPEC, ILO-IPEC GPRA Report: Number of Children Withdrawn/Prevented. Project Funded from FY2003, Geneva, 2006.

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