Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guatemala

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 - Guatemala, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d749372.html [accessed 30 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 ages 5-14 estimated as working in 2000:16.1%1832
Minimum age for admission to work:141833
Age to which education is compulsory:151834
Free public education:Yes1835
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:113%1836
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:93%1837
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2000:65.5%1838
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:78%1839
Ratified Convention 138:4/27/19901840
Ratified Convention 182:10/11/20011841
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes1842

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, approximately 21 percent of boys and 11.1 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 were working in Guatemala.1843 The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (62.6 percent), followed by services (23.4 percent), manufacturing (10.7 percent), and other sectors (3.2 percent). The majority of children participating in the labor force are of indigenous heritage and from rural areas.1844 On average, children in the labor force work 6.5 hours per day and 5 days per week.1845 Child labor mostly occurs in the informal sector and in small family enterprises.1846

Guatemalan children are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation across the country, especially in the border areas. Street children tend to be especially vulnerable to trafficking; they have been recruited to steal, participate in illegal drug activities, and transport contraband. Migrant minors unable to cross the border with Mexico remain in border towns and are forced into prostitution. Children are also forced into begging on the streets and are trafficked to Mexico to work at municipal dumps.1847

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Constitution and the labor code set the minimum age for employment at 14 years.1848 In some exceptional cases, the Labor Inspectorate can issue work permits to children under 14, provided that the work is related to an apprenticeship, is light and of short duration and intensity, is necessary because of extreme poverty of the child's family, and does not interfere with the child's ability to meet compulsory education requirements.1849 Minors aged 14 to 17 are prohibited from working at night, working overtime, performing unhealthy and dangerous tasks, or working in bars or other establishments where alcoholic beverages are served.1850 The workday for minors less than 14 years is limited to 6 hours per day or 36 hours per week; minors ages 14 to 17 may work a maximum of 7 hours per day or 42 hours per week.1851 The Municipality of Guatemala prohibits minors under 18 years from working at waste disposal sites in Guatemala City.1852 In May 2006, a governmental agreement went into effect, which determined the worst forms of child labor in Guatemala, established sanctions for violations, and called for inter-institutional coordination to combat the problem.1853

The law prohibits child pornography and prostitution. Procuring and inducing a minor to engage in prostitution are crimes that can result in fines and 6 years of imprisonment; the penalty increases by two-thirds if the victim is younger than 12 years.1854 Trafficking is prohibited, with penalties of 7 to 12 years of incarceration. Punishments are increased by one third if the victim is a minor.1855 Guatemalan law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children.1856 Legislation adopted as part of the Peace Accords protects children under 18 from military recruitment and deployment into armed conflicts. However, starting at 16, children can carry out national service in special projects.1857

The Ministry of Labor's Child Workers Protection Unit is responsible for enforcing child labor regulations as well as educating children, parents, and employers regarding the labor rights of minors.1858 According to the U.S. Department of State, funding for child labor prevention programs is insufficient.1859 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs leads the Inter-Institutional Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons. The Public Ministry operates the Office of Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, Children and Victims of Trafficking. This office has formed a task force with immigration authorities, the National Civilian Police (PNC), international organizations, and local NGOs, including Casa Alianza, which conducted a number of bar raids in 2005.1860 Their joint operations led to 35 arrests for commercial sexual exploitation of minors.1861 The government also participated in anti-TIP raids in collaboration with civil society groups to rescue minors from sexual exploitation in brothels and bars.1862 Nonetheless, according to a NGO study cited by the U.S. Department of State, immigration officials reportedly took bribes to facilitate traffickers' movement of children across Guatemala's border, and brothel owners allowed police and immigration officials to have sex with minors without charge.1863 A former National Police official, Rudy Giron Lima, owned three bars involved in the prostitution of minors, but there have been no further developments in the criminal investigation of this case.1864 There were no prosecutions or convictions of public officials involved in the trafficking of minors as of early 2006.1865

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

The Government of Guatemala, through its National Commission for the Elimination of Child Labor, is implementing the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and the Protection of the Adolescent Worker.1866 The government is also implementing the National Plan of Action against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Guatemala.1867

The Government of Guatemala is currently participating in a number of ILO-IPEC implemented projects. These projects include a USD 8.7 million USDOL-funded project to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. This project targets 713 children for withdrawal and 657 children for prevention from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation throughout the region. The project includes activities to remove and prevent children from exploitive work, as well as awareness raising, institutional capacity building, and regional and national coordination in Guatemala.1868 A USD 2.7 million ILO-IPEC project, funded by the Government of Italy, combats child labor in the garbage dump sector. The Government of Guatemala also participates in a Canadian-supported USD 500,000 ILO-IPEC project focused on combating child labor through strengthening labor ministries and worker organizations, and it participates in a USD 14 million regional ILO-IPEC project funded by Spain.1869 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. In addition, the Government of Guatemala participates in a USD 5.7 million USDOL-funded regional Central America project implemented by CARE to combat exploitive child labor through the provision of education.1870 The project targets 470 children for withdrawal and 1,410 children for prevention from work in exploitive child labor, and aims to strengthen government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education.1871

During 2006, the Secretariat of Social Welfare, a government agency, operated four shelters that provided services to trafficking victims, including job training and counseling.


1832 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

1833 Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo de la República de Guatemala, Article 148; available from http://www.geocities.com/organiz.geo/otro/l/lguatemala.html. See also Government of Guatemala, Constitution, (May 31, 1985, reformed November 17, 1993), Article 102; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Guate/guate93.html.

1834 Government of Guatemala, Constitution, 1985, Article 74. See also UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Table 1: Education Systems, accessed May 29, 2007 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=210.

1835 Government of Guatemala, Constitution, 1985.

1836 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1837 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1838 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1839 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

1840 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed December 29, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declworld.htm.

1841 Ibid.

1842 ILO, Ficha Pais:Guatemala, [online] 2006 [cited December 29, 2006]; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/ficha_pais_gua.pdf.

1843 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

1844 Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Plan Nacional para la Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil y Protección a la Adolescencia Trabajadora, Guatemala, 2001, 6-7; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_eti_gt.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Guatemala," 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/2006/78893.htm.

1845 ILO-IPEC, Estudio Cualitativo Sobre el Trabajo Infantil en Guatemala: Informe Final, Guatemala City, April 2003, 40, Cuadro No. 14; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/spanish/standards/ipec/simpoc/guatemala/report/gt_2003.pdf.

1846 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Guatemala," Section 6d.

1847 U.S. Embassy – Guatemala City, reporting, March 8, 2007.

1848 Government of Guatemala, Constitution, 1985, Article 102. See also Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo, Article 148.

1849 Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo, Article 150.

1850 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Guatemala," Section 6d. See also Código de Trabajo de la República de Guatemala, 1996, 148.

1851 Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo, Articles 116, 149.

1852 ILO NATLEX, Acuerdo 006-2005 Consejo Municipal 2005 [cited December 15 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=es&p_country=GTM&p_classification=04&p_ori gin=COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY.

1853 ILO NATLEX, Acuerdo gubernativo 250-2006, 2006 [cited December 15 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=es&p_country=GTM&p_classification=04&p_ori gin=COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY.

1854 Government of Guatemala, Código Penal, Articles 188-189; available from http://www.oas.org/JURIDICO/MLA/sp/gtm/sp_gtm-int-text-cp.pdf.

1855 U.S. Embassy – Guatemala City, reporting, February 7, 2005. See also ILO NATLEX, Decreto núm. 14-2005 por el que se reforma el Artículo 194 del Código Penal (Trata de Personas). 2005 [cited December 15 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_isn=74634.

1856 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Guatemala," Section 6c.

1857 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Guatemala," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=827.

1858 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Guatemala," Section 6d.

1859 Ibid.

1860 Ibid., Section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Guatemala (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65988.htm.

1861 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Guatemala."

1862 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Guatemala," Section 5.

1863 Ibid.

1864 Ibid.

1865 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Guatemala."

1866 ILO, Ficha Pais:Guatemala. See also Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Plan de acción. Comité Técnico de Seguimiento para la prevención y erradicación del trabajo infantil doméstico., 2005; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/planguatemalafinal_1.pdf. See also Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Plan Nacional para la Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil.

1867 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Guatemala, accessed October 17, 2006; available from http://www.ecpat.net.

1868 U.S. Department of Labor, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, project summary 2005.

1869 ILO-IPEC, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 3, 2006.

1870 CARE, CARE's Work: Project Information, [online] 2004 [cited October 17, 2006]; available from http://www.careusa.org/careswork/projects/SLV041.asp.

1871 U.S. Department of Labor, Combating Child Labor Through Education in Central America, 2004.

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