Last Updated: Wednesday, 09 July 2014, 13:04 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Honduras

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 - Honduras, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa4768.html [accessed 10 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 Labor1610
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2004:5.4
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2004:8.2
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2004:2.6
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%), 2004:
     – Agriculture63.3
     – Manufacturing8.3
     – Services26.5
     – Other1.9
Minimum age for work:14/16
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:116
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:93
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2004:84.7
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:70
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

A September 2007 census by the National Statistics Institute of Honduras reported that the majority of working children in Honduras work in agriculture. Children work in melon, coffee, and sugarcane production, at garbage dumps, and in the forestry, hunting, and fishing sectors, including as deckhands and divers in the lobster industry. Children also work selling goods such as fruit, begging, washing cars, and hauling loads. Some work in limestone and lime production.1611 Children, predominantly girls, also work as domestic servants, where they are sometimes subject to abuse by third-party employers.1612

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is especially problematic in tourist areas, border areas between neighboring countries, and in big cities such as Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba and the Bay Islands.1613 Honduras is a transit and source country for children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Honduran children are trafficked internally, usually from rural to urban settings. Children, most of whom are girls, are also trafficked internationally to neighboring countries, often en route to the United States.1614

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

A 2007 analysis of Honduran law on the minimum age for employment of children by the Social Services section of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security places the minimum age at 14 years; however, laws governing the minimum age for work in Honduras are generally conflictive.1615 The Constitution (Article 128) prohibits children under 16 years and those who are in school from working. Similarly, Article 128 of the Labor Code states that 16 years is the minimum age for employment. In contrast, Article 32 of the Labor Code, Article 120 of the Code of Childhood and Adolescence and Article 6 of the Child Labor Regulation, list 14 years as the minimum age to work if authorization is obtained.1616 The Constitution and the Labor Law state that labor authorities can authorize employment for children under 16 years when it is indispensable for the subsistence of the family, as long as it does not interfere with the child's education, and is done with the parents' consent; however, authorization will not be granted for children under 14 years of age.1617

The legal work hours for adolescents are also conflictive. While according to the Constitution, children under age 17 may not work more than 6 hours per day and 36 hours per week, the Child and Adolescent Code states that minors between 14 and 16 years can only work 4 hours per day, and minors ages 16 to 18 years cannot work more than 6 hours per day.1618 The Labor Code restricts work hours to 6 hours per day and 36 hours per week for children ages 14 to 16, but does not provide restrictions on work hours for children ages 16 to 18. According to the Child and Adolescent Code and Child Labor Regulation, night work is prohibited, but minors ages 16 and 17 years can be authorized to work until 8 p.m. under certain conditions.1619 According to the Labor Code, minors must have a 2 hour rest period during the work day.1620 All minors between 14 and 18 years must receive authorization to work from the Secretary of State, Office of Labor and Social Security, and businesses employing children must have a child labor registry.1621

The worst forms of child labor as defined by ILO Convention 182, such as the involvement of children in commercial sexual exploitation and drug trafficking, are prohibited by Honduran law.1622 Under Article 8 of the Child Labor Code, minors cannot work in unhealthy or dangerous conditions, including: in static positions or on high scaffolding; diving underwater; working in tunnels or underground; in agricultural work that implies health risks; working with heavy machinery, ovens, smelters, heavy presses or glass; exposure to toxic substances, vehicular traffic, loud noise, high-voltage electrical currents, and garbage. Despite these limitations, minors ages 16 or 17 years may receive authorization from the Office of Labor and Social Security to perform dangerous labor under certain conditions.1623

According to USDOS, enforcement of child labor laws by the Ministry of Labor is not effective outside the apparel sector. Violations occur mostly in the agricultural export sector, family farming, small-scale services, and commerce.1624

The law prohibits forced or bonded labor. Honduran law requires recruits to be 18 years in order to enlist voluntarily into the Armed Forces. There is no compulsory conscription.1625

Individuals who violate child labor laws in traditional work sectors may receive prison sentences of 3 to 5 years and fines.1626 The law is more strict in prohibiting economic exploitation of children, child prostitution, and child pornography.1627 The penalty for promoting or facilitating commercial sexual exploitation of children is between 9 to 15 years in prison plus fines. The use of children in pornography is punishable by prison terms of 10 to 15 years plus fines while possessing child pornography is punishable by 4 to 6 years in prison.1628 The penalty for the use of children for commercial sexual exploitation in tourism is 12 to 18 years in prison, plus fines. Other penalties and fines exist for exposing children to places where commercial sexual exploitation occurs, for using minors in sex shows, or payment of sexual services from minors.1629

Honduras prohibits trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation through Article 149 of its penal code and an anti-trafficking statute enacted in February 2006, but does not prohibit trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation although the two are often linked. USDOS reports that there has been some progress in the enforcement of the revised penal code which addresses trafficking in persons.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor for Children in Tegucigalpa has four analysts working on cases of children sexually exploited for commercial purposes.1630 By the end of 2007, the Government rescued 15 minors in Tegucigalpa in seven different cases. The Government also increased anti-trafficking training for police and prosecutors, among other government officials.1631 The Government's Division against Abuse, Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation conducted operations throughout the country. Honduran consular officials have been trained to identify trafficking victims and refer them to NGOs for repatriation.1632 In 2007, the Government also launched a national trafficking system to track cases in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.1633

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

Honduras is implementing a National Plan of Action to Eradicate Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. The Plan was introduced in 2008 and will last seven years. It has five strategic objectives: promoting inter-institutional cooperation among governmental, nongovernmental, and civil society organizations; guaranteeing justice for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking; preventing risk factors in the child population; promoting child participation in the creation of networks of support against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking; and assistance for victims to facilitate their social reintegration.1634 The Government also coordinates with NGOs and the IOM to place trafficking victims in shelters and reintegrate them into society.1635

The Government of Honduras is currently participating in a USD 8.8 million regional project implemented by ILO-IPEC which seeks to combat commercial sexual exploitation through a variety of activities including capacity building and legal reform. In addition, the project aims to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region.1636 The Government of Honduras also participates in a USD 500,000 ILO-IPEC project funded by the Government of Canada that focuses on combating child labor through strengthening labor ministries and workers.1637 During the reporting period, the Government participated in an ILO-IPEC Phase II USD 2.6 million regional project and a Phase III USD 3 million regional project to eradicate child labor in Latin America, funded by the Government of Spain.1638 The Government also collaborated with the Organization of American States in a USD 300,000 regional project funded by USDOS to build capacity and international cooperation across the foreign ministries of the nine participating governments to prevent trafficking in persons.1639

In addition, the Government of Honduras is participating in a 2004-2008 USDOL-funded USD 5.7 million regional project implemented by CARE to combat child labor through education. The project targets 2,984 children for withdrawal or prevention from exploitive child labor.1640 As part of an effort to build capacity to improve labor law compliance among the CAFTA-DR partners, USDOL is also providing USD 2.6 million for a project to strengthen outreach efforts in the agriculture sector in the region, where child labor is a serious problem.1641


1610 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 Honduras, Constitución, (January 11, 1982), article 128; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Honduras/hond82.html. See also Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, Decreto No. 73-96, (September 5, 1996), article 128; available from http://www.iin.oea.org/badaj/docs/lcodhn96.htm. See also Government of Honduras, Código de Trabajo y sus Reformas, Decreto No. 189, (July 15, 1959), article 32; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/29076/64849/S59HND01.htm#t3. See also Ministry of Education, Educación Básica, [online] 2003 [cited March 26, 2008]; available from http://www.se.gob.hn/index.php?a=Webpage&url=BASICA_home. See also UNESCO, EFA Global Monitoring Report, Literacy for Life, Geneva, 2006; available from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001416/141639e.pdf.

1611 ILO-IPEC, National Report on the Results of the Child Labour Survey in Honduras, San José, May 2002, 39-41; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/searchProduct.do;?type=normal=&selectedMonthFrom=1=&selectedMonthTo=1=&selectedCountries=234&selectedThemes=91&selectedMediaTypes=12&selectedMediaTypes=73&keywords= &userType=3&resultPerPage=20&selectedSortById=4. See also U.S. Department of State, "Honduras," in Country Report on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5, 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/.

1612 ILO-IPEC, Trabajo Infantíl Doméstico en Honduras: A Puerta Cerrada, 2003.

1613 ILO-IPEC, Explotación Sexual Comercial de Niños, Niñas, y Adolescentes en Honduras, 2002, 30, 33; available from http://tejiendoredes.net/documentos/explotacion_sexual_hn.pdf.

1614 U.S. Department of State, "Honduras (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/2007/82806.htm.

1615 Office of Labor and Social Security official, Letter to Primero Aprendo Project Coordinator, July 25, 2007.

1616 Government of Honduras, Código de Trabajo, article 32. Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, article 120. Government of Honduras, Reglamento sobre Trabajo Infantil en Honduras, Acuerdo Ejecutivo No. STSS-211-01, (October 10, 2001), article 6. See also U.S. Department of State Official, E-mail communication to USDOL Official, August 5, 2008.

1617 Government of Honduras, Constitución, article 128(7). See also Government of Honduras, Código de Trabajo, article 32. See also U.S. Department of State Official, E-mail communication, August 5, 2008.

1618 Government of Honduras, Constitución, article 128. See also Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, article 125.

1619 Government of Honduras, Código de Trabajo, article 32. See also Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, article 125. Government of Honduras, Government of Honduras, Reglamento sobre Trabajo Infantil, article 7(c).

1620 Government of Honduras, Código de Trabajo, article 130.

1621 Office of Labor and Social Security, Reglamento sobre Trabajo Infantil en Honduras, (December 11, 2001), article 6. See also Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, article 126.

1622 Office of Labor and Social Security, Reglamento sobre Trabajo Infantil, article 10.

1623 Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, article 122. See also Office of Labor and Social Security, Reglamento sobre Trabajo Infantil, article 8.

1624 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Honduras," section 6d.

1625 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Honduras," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=830.

1626 Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, articles 126, 128, 134. See also Office of Labor and Social Security, Reglamento sobre Trabajo Infantil, articles 29-43.

1627 Government of Honduras, Código de la Niñez y de la Adolescencia, articles 134, 141. See also Government of Honduras, Reforma al Código Penal, Decreto No. 243-2005, (2005); available from http://genero.bvsalud.org/lildbi/docsonline/1/8/681-OIT_DECRETO_234_2005.pdf.

1628 Government of Honduras, Reforma al Código Penal, articles 148, 149-D.

1629 Ibid., articles 149-A, 149-B, 149-E.

1630 U.S. Department of State, "Honduras (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/2007/82806.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Honduras," section 5.

1631 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Honduras," section 5.

1632 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Honduras."

1633 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Honduras." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Honduras," section 5.

1634 Interinstitutional Commission against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Honduras, Plan de Acción Nacional Contra la Explotación Sexual Comercial de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes en Honduras, Tegucigalpa, 2006, 31-38; available from http://white.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_esc_honduras.pdf.

1635 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Honduras." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Honduras," section 5.

1636 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, San José, 2005.

1637 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, February 4, 2008.

1638 Ibid.

1639 U.S. Department of State, U.S. Government Funds Obligated for Anti-Trafficking in Persons Projects, Fiscal Year 2007, [online] February 2008 [cited March 10, 2008]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rpt/101295.htm.

1640 U.S. Department of Labor, Project Revision Form: Proyecto Primero Aprendo, Washington, DC, 2007.

1641 Social Accountability International, Project CULTIVAR: Advancing Labor Rights in Agriculture in Central America, Project Document, New York, August 8, 2007.

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