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2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Dominican Republic

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 - Dominican Republic, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7492ff.html [accessed 29 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 Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 10-14 estimated as working in 2003:3.2%1314
Minimum age for admission to work:141315
Age to which education is compulsory:141316
Free public education:Yes*1317
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:112%1318
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:86%1319
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2003:94.9%1320
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:59%1321
Ratified Convention 138:6/15/19991322
Ratified Convention 182:11/15/20001323
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes1324
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2003, approximately 5.6 percent of boys and 0.7 percent of girls ages 10 to 14 were working in the Dominican Republic.1325 A Secretariat of Labor (SET) study estimated that 41 percent of working children 5 to 17 worked in services, 21 percent in commerce, 19 percent in agriculture, and 11 percent in manufacturing industries during 2000.1326

Most work performed by children is in the informal sector.1327 In urban areas, children work in the streets, markets, garbage dumps, and repair shops. They perform activities such as washing cars, shining shoes, street sales, and carrying heavy loads.1328 Many urban child workers are migrants from other regions.1329 Children also work as domestic servants.1330 In rural areas, children work mostly in agriculture and services.1331 Most child agricultural workers are boys.1332 Past reports indicate that Haitian children planted and cut sugarcane.1333 There have been conflicting reports as to whether the transport of undocumented Haitians for work in the sugarcane plantations has stopped.1334 Many Haitian families have traditionally lived in sugarcane worker villages referred to as "bateyes," which lack adequate housing, medical, sanitation, and education services. Human rights organizations describe these conditions as modern day slavery.1335

The Dominican Republic is a source and destination country for the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation.1336 Children are also trafficked internally from rural to tourist areas.1337 International organizations estimate that up to 3,000 Haitian children are trafficked to the Dominican Republic each year to work in the streets, in agriculture, and for commercial sexual exploitation.1338 Children, particularly Haitian children, are sometimes "adopted" by families who register them as their own and provide some form of payment to the birthparents. Such children are often exploited as domestic workers or as workers in family businesses.1339

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a problem, especially in tourist locations such as Boca Chica, Puerto Plata, Sosúa, and Las Terrenas.1340 In February 2006, one group of Colombian and Dominican Republic traffickers was found guilty of trafficking Colombian girls to the Dominican Republic for prostitution purposes.1341

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The legal minimum age for employment is 14 years.1342 Work must not interfere with a minor's education.1343 Children under 16 may not work for more than 6 hours a day and must have a medical certification.1344 Special authorization is needed for itinerant sales work.1345 Females 14 to 16 are prohibited from working as messengers and delivering merchandise.1346

Minors under 18 are prohibited from dangerous work such as that involving hazardous substances, heavy or dangerous machinery, and heavy loads. Children are also prohibited from night work, work on the street, work in gaming establishments, handling cadavers, various tasks involved in the production of sugarcane, and certain work at hotels. Some exceptions are made for apprenticeships and job training for those older than 16.1347 Employers are required to pay minors at least the minimum legal wage.1348 Fines are established for violations of legal provisions involving child labor.1349

The Law Against Trafficking in Persons and Alien Smuggling establishes penalties of 15 to 20 years of imprisonment as well as fines for trafficking minors.1350 The Code for the Protection of Children and Adolescents establishes punishments of 20 to 30 years of incarceration and fines for the transfer of a child to someone else for the purposes of forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and pornography, or other degrading activities, in exchange for compensation.1351 Perpetrators can also receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines for involvement in the commercial sexual exploitation of children; the sexual abuse of children under circumstances involving trafficking; or giving a son, daughter, or student to another person in exchange for compensation.1352 Fines are established for transporting minors unaccompanied by their parents without authorization.1353 Promoting or assisting the trafficking of a minor outside of the country is punishable by 4 to 6 years of imprisonment and fines.1354 Making, distributing, or publishing pornographic photographs of children is punishable by 2 to 4 years of incarceration and fines.1355 Crimes involving drug trafficking carry increased penalties if minors were used to carry out the offense.1356 Forced labor is prohibited by law.1357 The minimum voluntary and compulsory recruitment age for military service is 16. Recruits must have completed their education.1358

The Secretary of Labor (SET), in coordination with The National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), is responsible for protecting minors against labor exploitation.1359 The legal requirement that CONANI receive a minimum of 2 percent of the national budget is not being met.1360 According to the U.S. Department of State, the government has been working to increase its efforts to protect children from exploitive child labor. The government effectively enforced child labor laws in the formal sector; however it was unable to do so in the informal sector.1361 Labor inspectors from the SET made monthly trips to visit sugarcane worker villages.1362 The anti-trafficking unit of the Office of the Attorney General investigates and prosecutes trafficking crimes.1363 The government has shut down several businesses involved with the commercial sexual exploitation of children, rescued child victims, and obtained related convictions.1364 Also according to the U.S. Department of State, the Dominican Republic lacks effective trafficking law enforcement and victim protection programs because of lack of resources. Monitoring the border with Haiti has improved; but is still not effective; some government officials are reported to be involved in trafficking.1365

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

The Government of the Dominican Republic has both a National Plan to Eradicate the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2006-2016) and an Action Plan for the Eradication of Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Boys, Girls, and Adolescents.1366

The government supported several child labor, trafficking, and commercial sexual exploitation awareness campaigns, workshops, and trainings, and provides some funding to NGOs that work with trafficking victims.1367 The SET has formed provincial and municipal child labor committees.1368 The armed forces provide educational and recreational programs for working and at-risk children and run a shelter for such children.1369 The Technical Institute for Professional Development trains trafficking victims and at-risk children, especially those in the Boca Chica area.1370 The Tourism Police provides counseling services to abused children, including victims of trafficking.1371 CONANI operates a referral center for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Boca Chica and runs seven shelters for children.1372

The SET participates in several ILO-IPEC projects funded by USDOL,1373 including three projects to specifically support the government's Timebound Program to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The first USD 1.3 million project, which ended in 2006, withdrew 2,079 children and prevented 1,330 children from exploitive labor; it also developed a community-based child labor monitoring system. A second USD 4.4 million project, which also ended in 2006, withdrew 2,858 and prevented 6,757 children from exploitive labor in agriculture, commercial sexual exploitation, urban work, and trafficking. In 2006, a third USD 2.7 million, 39-month project began that aims to withdraw 2,900 children and prevent 2,200 children from exploitive labor.1374 The Office of the First Lady administers a program to provide income-generating opportunities to families of children at-risk for commercial sexual exploitation, including beneficiaries of ILO-implemented projects.1375 The government also participates in a USDOL-funded USD 8.8 million regional project to eliminate commercial sexual exploitation of children in Central America and the Dominican Republic, targeting 713 children for withdrawal and 657 children for prevention.1376 As part of an effort to build capacity to improve labor law compliance among the CAFTA-DR partners, USDOL is providing USD 2.85 million for a project to strengthen outreach efforts in the agriculture sector in the region, where child labor is a serious problem.1377 A second regional project targeting hazardous agricultural child labor was funded by USDOL for USD 900,000 and completed in 2005, withdrawing 1,405 and preventing 5,744 children from working in hazardous labor conditions.1378

Additionally, the government participates in two USDOL-funded Child Labor Education Initiative projects including a USD 5.5 million, 4-year regional project implemented by CARE to strengthen the government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education, and withdraw or prevent 2,780 children from exploitive child labor. Also, a USD 3 million, 4-year project implemented by DevTech Systems, Inc. seeks to withdraw 3,170 children and prevent 1,047 from entering exploitive labor by improving the quality of and access to basic education.1379


1314 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, 2005.

1315 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la Protección de los Derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, (August 7, 2003), Article 40; available from http://www.suprema.gov.do/pdf/leyes/LEY%2013603.pdf.

1316 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Statistics: National Education Systems, [online]; available from http://www.uis.unesco.org/statsen/statistics/yearbook/tables/Table3_1.html. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Article 45 and 46.

1317 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Article 45. See also UNESCO, Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2006, 84; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=43009&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html.

1318 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1319 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1320 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1321 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

1322 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 19, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

1323 ILO, Ratifications by Country, [cited October 19, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

1324 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.

1325 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1326 Dominican Secretariat of Labor and ILO-IPEC, Report on the Results of the National Child Labour Survey in the Dominican Republic, San Jose, July 2004, 32; available from http://www.ipec.oit.or.cr/ipec/region/acciones/simpoc/publicaciones/RD/RD%20-%20national%20report.pdf.

1327 U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/.

1328 ILO-IPEC, Día Mundial Contra El Trabajo Infantil, [online] June 2005 [cited June 27, 2005]; available from http://www.oit.or.cr/ipec/encuentros/noticia.php?notCodigo=424.

1329 ILO-IPEC, Evaluación rápida sobre niños, niñas, y adolescentes trabajadores/as urbanos/as en República Dominicana, Santo Domingo, December 2002, 34-35.

1330 IOM, Panorama Sobre la Trata de Personas, Bogota, February 2006, 89; available from http://www.oim.org.co/modulos/contenido/default.asp?idmodulo=7&idlibro=115.

1331 ILO-IPEC, Report on the Results of the National Child Labour Survey, 33.

1332 ILO-IPEC, Trabajo Infantil en la Agricultura en cifras, San Jose, 2005, 13; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/pagina.php?seccion=6&pagina=123.

1333 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006.

1334 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1335 Ibid., Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006.

1336 The Protection Project, 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2005; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/projects.htm_acc. See also, U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic," Section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/.

1337 The Protection Project, 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

1338 U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/. See also IOM, Panorama Sobre la Trata de Personas, 92. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in the Dominican Republic – Phase II (2006-2009), project document, Geneva, August 2006, 2 and 3.

1339 U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Sections 6c and 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/index.htm.

1340 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Explotación sexual comercial de personas menores de edad en República Dominicana, September 2002, 13-15. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1341 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic," Section 5.

1342 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Article 40.

1343 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código de Trabajo de la República Dominicana 1999, Article 254; available from http://www.suprema.gov.do/codigos/WelcomeC.htm. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Article 39.

1344 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código de Trabajo 1999, Article 247-248.

1345 Ibid., Article 249.

1346 Ibid., Article 252.

1347 Government of the Dominican Republic, Resolución Sobre Trabajos Peligrosos e Insalubres para Personas Menores de 18 Años, (August 13, 2004); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/SERIAL/69773/68796/F452892919/DOM69773.pdf.

1348 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código de Trabajo 1999, Article 258.

1349 Ibid., Articles 720-721. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Trabajos Peligrosos e Insalubres, Article 6. See also Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Article 44.

1350 Government of the Dominican Republic, Ley contra el Tráfico Ilicito de Migrantes y Trata de Personas, (August 2003).

1351 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Articles 25 and 409.

1352 Ibid., Articles 396, 404, and 410.

1353 Ibid., Articles 204 and 391.

1354 Ibid., Article 406.

1355 Ibid., Articles 26 and 411.

1356 Government of the Dominican Republic, Law on Drugs and Controlled Substances in the Dominican Republic, (May 30, 1988), Article 85; available from http://www.unifr.ch/derechopenal/ley.htm.

1357 The Protection Project, 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

1358 Government of the Dominican Republic, Ley Orgánica de las Fuerzas Armadas de la República Dominicana, 873, (1996), Article 30; available from http://www.secffaa.mil.do/Ley1.htm.

1359 Government of the Dominican Republic, Código para la protección de los derechos de los Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes, Article 34.

1360 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1361 Ibid., Section 5.

1362 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting December 16, 2006.

1363 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1364 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1365 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Dominican Republic." See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1366 ILO, Plan Estratégico Nacional para la erradicación de las peores formas de trabajo infantil en República Dominicana 2006 -2016, Santo Domingo, August 2006. See also Boys and Adolescents Interinstitutional Commission Against the Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Girls, Plan de Acción de la República Dominicana Para Erradicar el Abuso y la Explotación Sexual Comercial de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes, ILO, Dominican Republic, January 2006; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_nacional_esc.pdf.

1367 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Dominican Republic." See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006.

1368 ILO-IPEC, Preparatory Activities for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Dominican Republic, Geneva, September 7, 2006, 2. See also Resolution 37, (September 2, 2005), Article 1; available from http://portal.set.gov.do/legislacion/resolucion2005.asp. See also U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, December 16, 2006.

1369 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006. See also IOM, Panorama Sobre la Trata de Personas, 109.

1370 U.S. Embassy – Santo Domingo, reporting, March 2, 2006.

1371 IOM, Panorama Sobre la Trata de Personas, 110.

1372 ILO-IPEC, Preparatory Activities, 19. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Dominican Republic."

1373 Secretariat of Labor, Memoria de las acciones realizadas a partir del mes de Septiembre del 2004, [online] [cited October 19, 2006]; available from http://portal.set.gov.do/legislacion/memoria_acciones.asp.

1374 ILO-IPEC, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in the Dominican Republic – Supporting the Timebound Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Dominican Republic, project document, DOM/02/P50/USA, Geneva, September 2002, 21. See also ILO-IPEC, Trafficking/Smuggling Amendment to Supporting the TBP for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in the Dominican Republic, project addendum, Geneva, September 2, 2004, 16. See also ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme – Phase II, project document, vi, vii. and 20-24.

1375 ILO-IPEC, Preparatory Activities, 11.

1376 ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, project addendum, Geneva, September 2005, 1. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labour in Agriculture in Central America and the Dominican Republic (Phase II), project document, Geneva, September 13, 2003.

1377 Social Accountability International, Project CULTIVAR: Advancing Labor Rights in Agriculture in Central America, project document, New York, August 8, 2007.

1378 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labour in the Tomato Producing Sector in the Province of Azua, the Dominican Republic (Phase 1), technical progress report, Geneva, August 17, 2005.

1379 CARE, Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, project document, Geneva, June 2, 2004, 3. See also DevTech Systems Inc., Combating Child Labor Through Education, technical progress report, Arlington, Virginia, September 28, 2005, 1, 2.

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