Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - The Gambia

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 - The Gambia, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa471c.html [accessed 20 December 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 Labor1336
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005-2006:36.4
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005-2006:28.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005-2006:43.8
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:Not Compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2004:76
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2003:72
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005-2006:65.7
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:No
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Working children in The Gambia are primarily found in the informal sector, agriculture, and domestic service.1337 Working girls are most likely to engage in street vending, selling food items such as candy, water, and fruits for their parents.1338 Working boys are most commonly found doing such odd jobs as hauling items or sweeping and working as taxi or bus attendants in urban areas.1339 Many children between 14 and 16 years work in technical sectors such as lumbering, sewing, plumbing, masonry, and auto repair.1340 The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a common tradition. While some boys are cared for and receive lessons, many are forced by their teachers to beg and surrender the money that they have earned.1341

Commercial sexual exploitation of children, including prostitution, is common in The Gambia.1342 Both Gambian men as well as visiting European pedophiles exploit children through prostitution and sex tourism.1343

The Gambia is country of origin, transit, and destination for children trafficked for forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Children are reportedly trafficked to the country from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Benin, Mali, and Guinea-Conakry.1344 Gambian boys are trafficked to Senegal for forced begging.1345 Girls are trafficked to and from Gambia for sexual exploitation and forced domestic servitude.1346 Boys are trafficked to Gambia for a wide range of activities including, but not limited to, sexual exploitation, street vending, and begging.1347

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Laws governing the minimum age for work in The Gambia are contradictory. The Labor Law of 2007 prohibits children, defined in Gambian law as those under 18 years, from engaging in agricultural, industrial or non-industrial work.1348 The Gambian Children's Act specifically prohibits the economic exploitation of children, including night work, hazardous work, and work that interferes with a child's education.1349 According to the Act, however, children over 16 years can engage in light work and children may serve as apprentices at 12 years or upon the completion of basic education.1350

Employers are required to keep a register of all children employed, detailing their date of birth or age, and all employees are given employee labor cards that include their age.1351 These cards are registered with the labor commissioner, who is authorized to enforce child labor laws.1352 Penalties for child labor violations range from a fine to imprisonment for up to 5 years.1353 The Department of Labor is responsible for implementing laws and international convention provisions on the worst forms of child labor.1354 The Children's Court handles child labor cases.1355 However, reports indicate that inspections rarely occurred.1356

Children under 18 years may not be recruited into the Armed Forces.1357 Multiple Gambian laws prohibit promoting child prostitution and procuring a child for sexual exploitation in The Gambia. Penalties for such offenses range from 2 to 14 years imprisonment and a fine, and include penalties specific to tourists who commit sexual offenses against a child.1358 Forced labor is prohibited by law.1359 Trafficking of children is specifically prohibited under multiple Gambian laws.1360 Under the Children's Act, which takes precedence over other legislation, child trafficking offenses are punishable by life imprisonment.1361 Enforcement of the laws pertaining to child trafficking is primarily the responsibility of the Tourism Security Unit, and at least one individual was prosecuted and convicted for commercial sexual exploitation of a child by a foreign national in November 2007.1362 Child Protection Units (CPU) have been established within the Police Department and the Armed Forces to handle children's rights and welfare within their respective agencies.1363 The CPUs have been trained in investigative techniques for commercial sexual exploitation of children and in services for victims.1364

The Gambia was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative 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.1365 As part of the Multilateral Cooperative 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.1366

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

During the reporting period, the Government passed a Trafficking in Persons Act establishing a Trafficking in Persons Agency to help identify and investigate child trafficking cases.1367 The Government is implementing its 2004-2008 National Policy for Children in The Gambia, which includes components addressing child economic and sexual exploitation.1368 The Government has collaborated with NGOs and international agencies to raise awareness of the worst forms of child labor.1369 During the reporting period the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), a consortium of government agencies and NGOs, conducted several awareness campaigns to educate hotel personnel about child sexual tourism. With the help of the Department of State for Justice, the CPA launched a government-funded trafficking education campaign and broadcasted public awareness messages about child trafficking through radio and television media.1370 The CPA also conducted training for the Gambia Armed Forces, The Gambia Police Force and the National Intelligence Agency on children's rights, child protection, commercial sexual exploitation, and investigation techniques for victims of abuse and exploitation.1371 The Government operates a hotline that can be used to report trafficking cases and operates a 24-hour shelter available to trafficking victims.1372 The Government also established a child protection database, which includes tracking and monitoring of sexual exploitation.1373


1336 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 the Gambia, Children's Act, (July 21, 2005), articles 18, 43(1). See also U.S. Department of State official, E-mail communication to USDOL, February 28, 2008.

1337 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para E.

1338 Christian Children's Fund – The Gambia, Child Protection Baseline Assessment for Children Living and Working in the Streets of Banjul, Christian Children's Fund, January 3, 2006, 13. See also Department of State for Education official, Interview with USDOL contractor, September 4, 2006, 33.

1339 Christian Children's Fund – The Gambia, Child Protection Baseline Assessment, 13. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para E. See also U.S. Department of State, "The Gambia," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100483.htm.

1340 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para E. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 6d.

1341 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 2b. See also Christian Children's Fund – The Gambia, Child Protection Baseline Assessment, 3, 13, 15. See also 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.

1342 ECPAT, Report on the Status of Action Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children: The Gambia, 2007, 11; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/A4A_2005/PDF/AF/Global_Monitoring_Report-GAMBIA.pdf. See also Department of State for Education official, Interview, September 4, 2006, 32. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 5, 6d.

1343 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 2b, 3m. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Gambia: Rising Poverty Breeds Sexual Exploitation of Children by Sugar Daddies", IRINnews.org, [online], May 6, 2004 [cited December 6, 2007]; available from http://newsite.irinnews.org/PrintReport.aspx?ReportId=49784. See also ECPAT, Report on the Status of Action, 11.

1344 U.S. Department of State, "The Gambia (Tier 2 Watch List)," 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 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 2b.

1345 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: The Gambia." See also Christian Children's Fund – The Gambia, Child Protection Baseline Assessment, 8, 9. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 5.

1346 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: The Gambia." See also ECPAT, Report on the Status of Action, 12. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para E.

1347 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: The Gambia."

1348 Government of the Gambia, Labour Act, 5/2007, (October 17, 2007), article 45.

1349 Government of the Gambia, Children's Act, articles 41-44. See also Government of the Gambia, Constitution, (1997), article 29(2); available from http://confinder.richmond.edu. See also Government of the Gambia, Labour Act, article 46.

1350 Government of the Gambia, Children's Act, articles 43, 51. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para A.

1351 Government of the Gambia, Children's Act, article 45-49. See also Government of the Gambia, Labour Act, article 47.

1352 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 6d.

1353 Government of the Gambia, Labour Act, article 48.

1354 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 6d.

1355 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007.

1356 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 6d. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally Recognized Core Labour Standards in Gambia: Report for the WTO General Council Review of the Trade Policies of Gambia, February 4, 2004, section 3; available from http://www.icftu.org/www/pdf/gambiacls2004.pdf.

1357 Government of the Gambia, Children's Act, article 59(1).

1358 Ibid., articles 26-38. See also ECPAT, Report on the Status of Action, 21. See also ILO NATLEX National Labor Law Database, Tourism Offences Act, accessed December 6, 2007; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home. See also AllAfrica Global Media, "New Law Criminalizes Human Trafficking", allAfrica.com, [online], September 14, 2007 [cited December 6, 2007]; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200709140815.html.

1359 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 6c.

1360 Government of the Gambia, Children's Act, articles 26, 39. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 8, 2007, para A. See also Government of the Gambia, Trafficking in Persons Act, (October 5, 2007), article 28.

1361 Government of the Gambia, Children's Act, article 39(2). See also Government of the Gambia, Trafficking in Persons Act, article 56. See also ECPAT, Report on the Status of Action, 22.

1362 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: The Gambia," section 5. See also AllAfrica Global Media, "German National Convicted of Child Pornography", allAfrica.com, [online], November 6, 2007 [cited December 6, 2007]; available from http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200711051261.html.

1363 Department of State official, E-mail communication to USDOL, February 27, 2008. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 2c, 4i.

1364 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 4i. See also The Point Newspaper, "CPA Sensitizes Security Forces", [online], June 14, 2007 [cited February 26, 2008]; available from http://www.thepoint.gm/youthf85.htm.

1365 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.

1366 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.

1367 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 8, 2007, section 4. See also AllAfrica Global Media, "New Law Criminalizes Human Trafficking".

1368 Government of the Gambia, 2004-2008 National Policy for Children in The Gambia, 2003, sections 4.64-4.68.

1369 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para D. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 4g.

1370 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para D. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: The Gambia."

1371 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 3g. See also The Point Newspaper, "CPA Sensitizes Security Forces".

1372 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 4b, h.

1373 U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, November 30, 2007, para d. See also U.S. Embassy – Banjul, reporting, February 29, 2008, para 3b.

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