Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 13:07 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Lesotho

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 - Lesotho, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7493f42.html [accessed 30 September 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 2000:28.1%2452
Minimum age for admission to work:13/152453
Age to which education is compulsory:Not compulsory2454
Free public education:Yes2455*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:131%2456
Net primary enrollment rate:86%2457
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:80.7%2458
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:63%2459
Ratified Convention 138:6/14/20012460
Ratified Convention 182:6/14/20012461
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes2462
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Available information on the occupations in which children work is anecdotal, but suggests that jobs performed by children tend to be gender specific. Boys as young as 4 are employed as livestock herders in the highlands, either for their family or through an arrangement where they are hired out by their parents. Boys also work as load bearers, car washers, and taxi fare collectors. Girls are employed as domestic servants.2463 Some teenage children, primarily girls, are involved in prostitution. UNICEF and the Government of Lesotho (GOL) believe that the number of individuals under the age of 18 who are involved in prostitution is small, but increasing.2464

Anecdotal evidence indicates that children are trafficked within Lesotho for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Boys may be trafficked, sometimes with the permission of their families, for cattle herding, domestic service, or commercial sexual exploitation. Girls may be trafficked internally for domestic labor and commercial sexual exploitation.2465 According to a 2003 report from the International Organization for Migration, Lesotho children are trafficked into South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia for sexual exploitation.2466

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years, although children between 13 and 15 may perform light work in a home-based environment, technical school, or other institution approved by the government. Also exempt from the minimum age is work performed by a child of any age in a private undertaking of their own family, so long as there are no more than 5 other employees, and each is a member of the child's family.2467 Although there is no specific listing of work that is likely to jeopardize the health, safety or morals of children,2468 the law in general prohibits employment of children in work that is harmful to their health or development. It sets restrictions on night work by children, and also restricts work by children in mines and quarries. Persons under the age of 16 may not work for more than 4 consecutive hours without a break of at least one hour, and may not work more than 8 hours in any one day. Each employer in an industrial undertaking is required to keep a register of all its employees, including those under the age of 18.2469 The law identifies the "protection of children and young persons" as a principle of state policy.2470

The law identifies freedom from forced labor and slavery as a fundamental right available to all people.2471 The law further defines forced labor and makes it illegal.2472 The law states that there is no compulsory military service, and the minimum age for voluntary enrollment is 18.2473 Although there are no specific laws that prohibit trafficking in persons,2474 it is illegal to procure or attempt to procure a women or girl to become a prostitute within Lesotho, or to leave Lesotho so that she may be a prostitute elsewhere.2475

The law sets a penalty of up to 3 months in prison for an industrial employer who employs an underage child or for an employer who fails to keep a register of all employees who are children and young persons (under age 18). The law also dictates imprisonment of up to 6 months for persons who employ a child or young person in violation of restrictions related to dangerous work, required rest periods, parental rights to refuse work for their children, and children's rights to return each night to the home of their parents or guardians. The use of forced labor – adult or child – may result in up to 1 year in prison.2476 The procurement of a girl for prostitution is punishable by a maximum penalty of up to 6 years in prison.2477

The law provides broad powers for the Labor Commissioner and subordinates to perform workplace inspections.2478 The Ministry of Employment and Labor has 24 trained inspectors who are responsible for uncovering all violations of the Labor Code, not only those related to child labor. Each quarter a random sample of employers is inspected.2479 The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) has noted that little information is forthcoming from the GOL on the effectiveness of its enforcement efforts, and that general concerns have been raised by others to suggest that the provisions of the law related to children may not be adequately enforced. Little information exists on the enforcement of laws related to the unconditional worst forms of child labor. The CEACR has asked the Government "to provide information on the practical application of the penalties laid down in the relevant provisions."2480

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

The Government of Lesotho finalized a discussion document on child labor and initiated talks to draft a national child labor action plan.2481 The government is also working with ILO-IPEC to implement a USDOL-funded, USD 5 million regional child labor project in Southern Africa. Activities in Lesotho include research on the nature and incidence of exploitive child labor and efforts to build the capacity of the government to address child labor issues.2482 The American Institutes for Research, with the support of the Government of Lesotho, is implementing another regional, USDOL-funded project. This USD 9 million project intends to prevent 10,000 children from engaging in exploitive labor in five countries, including Lesotho, by improving quality of and access to basic education.2483


2452 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

2453 Labour Code Order, 24, (1992); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/31536/64865/E92LSO01.htm.

2454 U.S. Department of State, "Lesotho," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006 Washington, D.C., March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78741.htm.

2455 Ibid.

2456 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratios. Primary. Total accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

2457 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Ratios. Primary. Total accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

2458 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

2459 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

2460 ILO, Ratifications by Country, [database online] [cited September 25, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declAFpr.htm.

2461 Ibid.

2462 ILO-IPEC, IPEC action against child labour-highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20061019_Implementationreport_eng_Web.pdf.

2463 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Lesotho," Section 6d.

2464 Ibid., Section 5

2465 U.S. Department of State, "Lesotho (Special Cases)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65990.htm.

2466 International Organization for Migration, The Trafficking of Women and Children in the Southern African Region, Pretoria, March 24, 2003, Page 12; available from http://www.iom.int/documents/publication/en/southernafrica%5Ftrafficking.pdf.

2467 Government of Lesotho, Labour Code Order, 24, (1992), Sections 3, 124; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/31536/64865/E92LSO01.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Maseru, reporting, September 2, 2003, Para 3.

2468 CEACR, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138); Lesotho (ratification: 2001); Direct request, CEACR 2004/75th Session, [online] [cited January 22, 2007], Article 3 (2); available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/appl-displayAllComments.cfm?conv=C138&ctry=1800&hdroff=1&lang=EN.

2469 Government of Lesotho, Labour Code Order, Sections 125-128.

2470 Government of Lesotho, The Constitution of Lesotho, (1993), Section 32; available from http://www.parliament.ls/documents/constitution.php#NOTE.

2471 Ibid., Chapter 2, Section 9

2472 Government of Lesotho, Labour Code Order, Sections 3 and 7.

2473 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report [online] 2004 [cited October 19, 2006]; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=780.

2474 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Lesotho," Section 5.

2475 CEACR, Worst forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182); Lesotho (ratification: 2001); Direct request, CEACR 2004/75th Session, [online] [cited January 22, 2007], Article 3(para 3); available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/index.cfm?lang=EN.

2476 Government of Lesotho, Labour Code Order, Sections 3, 7, 124-129. See also CEACR, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138); Lesotho (ratification: 2001); Direct request, CEACR 2004/75th Session. 2477 CEACR, Worst forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182); Lesotho (ratification: 2001); Direct request, CEACR 2004/75th Session, Article 7 (para 1).

2478 Ibid., Article 5.

2479 U.S. Embassy – Maseru, reporting, September 2, 2003, para 7.

2480 CEACR, Worst forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182); Lesotho (ratification: 2001); Direct request, CEACR 2004/75th Session, Articles 5 and 6.

2481 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Time-Bound Programme to eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and laying the basis for concerted action against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, Technical Progress Report, September 2006, Page 4.

2482 ILO-IPEC, Supporting the Timebound Programme to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour in South Africa's Child Labour Action Programme and Laying the Basis for Concerted Action Against Worst Forms of Child Labour in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland, project document, Geneva, September 30, 2003, 38-39.

2483 Notice of Award: Cooperative Agreement, U.S. Department of Labor / American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC, August 16, 2004, 1-2. See also American Institutes for Research, Reducing Exploitive Child Labor Southern Africa (RECLISA), project document, Washington September 8, 2005, Page 21.

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