Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 11:06 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Eritrea

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 - Eritrea, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46fa.html [accessed 24 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 Labor1225
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:Grade 7
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:66
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:49
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:79
ILO-IPEC participating country:No
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Eritrea, children work on the street, in the agricultural sector, and as domestic servants.1226 Children living in rural areas often work in family businesses, including subsistence farming, and engage in activities such as fetching firewood and water as well as herding livestock, sometimes starting at about age five.1227 For children working in urban areas, street vending is typical.1228 Many underage apprentices work in shops and workshops such as garages or metal workshops in towns.1229

Children are reportedly involved in prostitution.1230 However, specific data on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Eritrea is lacking.1231 Some boys were trafficked to Kuwait to be camel jockeys, but reports indicate that they have since been repatriated.1232

Although the law prohibits recruitment of children under 18 years into the armed forces, concerns exist regarding the training and recruitment of children for military service.1233 The Government requires all secondary school students to complete their final year of education at a location adjacent to the Sawa Military Training Camp (Sawa) in order to graduate, regardless of age.1234 In addition to not qualifying for graduation, students who do not attend this final year of secondary education are prohibited to sit for examinations that determine eligibility for advanced education.1235 There is concern that this school is under the authority of the military; at least one official stated that the students are considered members of the armed forces.1236 USDOS reported that students attend Sawa and undergo military training during their final year of secondary school. Training is provided indiscriminate of age; as a result, children as young as 14 years may be trained there.1237

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Eritrean law sets the minimum age of employment and apprenticeship at 14 years.1238 Young persons between 14 and 18 years may not work between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. or more than 7 hours per day. Children under 18 years are not permitted to work jobs that have been specified as dangerous or unhealthy, including jobs that involve heavy lifting, contact with toxic chemicals, underground work, commercial sexual exploitation, the transport industry, dangerous machines, or exposure to electrical hazards.1239

The recruitment of children under 18 years into the armed forces is prohibited.1240 Child prostitution, pornography, and sexual exploitation are criminal offenses. Trafficking in persons is prohibited with penalties of a fine and up to 10 years in prison.1241

The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare (MLHW) is responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but according to USDOS, inspections are infrequent1242 because of the ministry's finite resources. Legal remedies available to the labor ministry include criminal penalties, fines, and court orders.1243

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

The Government of Eritrea is currently implementing a National Program of Action on Children that aims to protect children from exploitive labor. However, lack of resources may postpone the anticipated end-of-2007 completion date.1244 With Government support, UNICEF is implementing programs on child labor that primarily focus on preventing or rehabilitating children who have been exploited in the workplace. In 2006, the most recent year from which data are available, more than 3,700 working street-children were beneficiaries of these programs, which are integrating or reintegrating children with families, communities, and schools.1245

The MLHW works with children who are at risk of entry into work by providing a small subsidy to their families to help with food and clothing, as well as counseling services to help children reintegrate into their nuclear or extended families. At-risk children are also enrolled or reenrolled at local schools, and the MLHW tracks their development through local committees or ministry employees.1246 Additionally, the Government provides school-aged street children with allowances to purchase uniforms and books necessary for school participation.1247 The MLHW also offers street children, between the ages 15 to 17 years with vocational training in artisanal skills such as mechanics, administration, navigation, metal, wood, fish processing, electrical, and leather work, among others. Nearly 1,200 street children have benefited from this Government training program as of mid-2007.1248

Through State media, the Government routinely provides information on its strategy and obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has focused on the issue of child labor, in particular commercial sexual exploitation, in awareness-raising campaigns for the general public. Officials charged with enforcing child labor laws have also received training.1249


1225 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 Eritrea, Proclamation No.118/2001: The Labour Proclamation of Eritrea, (2001), article 68(1). See also ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Eritrea (ratification:2000), [online] 2007 [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Eritrea," 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/2007/100480.htm. See also Muluberhan Hagos, Harmonisation of laws relating to children: Eritrea, African Child Policy Forum, 2007, 86; available from http://www.africanchild.info/documents/Eritrea%20Report%20final%20Sarah.doc.

1226 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Eritrea, CRC/C/15/Add.204, United Nations, Geneva, July 2, 2003, para 55; available from http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?country=er.

1227 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 6d. See also ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Eritrea (ratification:2000), [online] 2004 [cited December 12, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=15755&chapter=9&query=%28Eritrea%29+%40ref&hig hlight=&querytype=bool&context=0.

1228 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 6d.

1229 ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention.

1230 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1231 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports under Article 44 – Concluding Observations, para 57. See also U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1232 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1233 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report 2004: Eritrea, [online] 2004 [cited March 17, 2008]; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/regions/country?id=66. See also Violence against Girls in Eritrea: A Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2003, 213; available from http://www.omct.org/pdf/VAW/Publications/2003/Eng_2003_05_Eritrea.pdf.

1234 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 5. See also Amnesty International, Eritrea: 'You Have No Right to Ask' – Government Resists Scrutiny on Human Rights, AFR 64/003/2004, Amnesty International, London, May 2004.

1235 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 2b.

1236 Amnesty International, You Have No Right to Ask, 25. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global Report 2004: Eritrea. See also Human Rights Watch, Essential Background: Overview of Human Rights Issues in Eritrea, Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C., January 2004; available from http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/01/21/eritre6987.htm.

1237 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1238 Government of Eritrea, The Labour Proclamation of Eritrea, articles 9(1), 68(1). See also ILO Committee of Experts, Individual Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention.

1239 Government of Eritrea, The Labour Proclamation of Eritrea, articles 68-9. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 6d.

1240 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Initial reports of the States parties due in 1996: Addendum, Eritrea, CRC/C/41/Add.12, United Nations, Geneva, December 23, 2002, para 88; available from http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?country=er.

1241 Government of Eritrea, The Transitional Eritrean Penal Code, (1991), articles 605-607. See also Hanibal Goitom, Eritrea: Child Labor, Law Library of Congress, February 2008, 3. See also U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 3a.

1242 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 6d. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Addendum: Eritrea, para 422.

1243 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1244 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Eritrea," section 6d.

1245 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1246 Ibid.

1247 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 866th Meeting (Thirty-third Session) – Consideration of Reports of States Parties (Continued), Initial Report of Eritrea (Continued), CRC/C/SR.866, New York, June 2, 2003, para 77. See also U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

1248 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Second and third periodic reports of States parties due in 2006: Eritrea, CRC/C/ERI/3, United Nations, Geneva, October 23, 2007, 87; available from http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?country=er.

1249 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, December 3, 2007.

Search Refworld

Countries