Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 10:50 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Nicaragua

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 - Nicaragua, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7494715.html [accessed 16 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 6-14 estimated as working in 2001:10.9%3026
Minimum age for admission to work:143027
Age to which education is compulsory:123028
Free public education:Yes3029
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:112%3030
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:88%3031
Percent of children 6-14 attending school in 2001:85%3032
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:59%3033
Ratified Convention 138:11/2/19813034
Ratified Convention 182:11/6/20003035
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes3036

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2001, approximately 15.7 percent of boys and 5.8 percent of girls ages 6 to 14 were working in Nicaragua. The majority of working children were found in the agricultural sector (62.5 percent), followed by services (31.8 percent), manufacturing (5.3 percent), and other sectors (0.4 percent).3037 Children work in the production of such crops as coffee, corn, sugar, and tobacco.3038 Children also work in street sales and personal services, such as domestic service in third-party homes. They can also be found working in markets, restaurants and hotels. A small percentage of children engage in mining, stone quarrying, construction, and transport.3039 The majority of children work in the informal sector, and some are engaged in garbage dump scavenging.3040

Child prostitution and sex tourism are problems in Nicaragua.3041 Nicaragua is a source and transit country for children trafficked for sexual exploitation.3042 Children are trafficked within Nicaragua from rural to urban areas.3043 Children from poor rural areas between the ages of 13 and 18 are among the most vulnerable to trafficking.3044 The most prevalent form of internal trafficking is believed to be the commercial sexual exploitation of minors.3045 Children are also trafficked from Nicaragua to other parts of Central America to work in bars and nightclubs, with Guatemala as the primary destination for girls engaged in prostitution.3046

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.3047 A ministerial resolution also specifically prohibits children under 14 from work in export processing zones, while another prohibits contracting children under 16 for work at sea.3048

Children 14 to 16 years cannot work without parental permission.3049 Adolescents 14 to 18 cannot work more than 6 hours a day or 30 hours a week. Adolescents are also prohibited from engaging in work that endangers their health and safety, such as work in mines, garbage dumps, and night entertainment venues, and work that may interfere with schooling.3050 The law provides for fines for violations of child labor laws. The National Commission for the Progressive Eradication of Child Labor and Protection of the Young Worker (CNEPTI) receives revenues from fines.3051

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, slavery, and indentured servitude, although children are not specifically mentioned.3052 The Constitution was amended in 1995 to prohibit military conscription. The minimum legal age for entry into the armed forces is unclear.3053

Prostitution is legal for individuals 14 years and older, but the promotion and procurement of prostitution is prohibited by law. The law establishes a penalty of 4 to 8 years of imprisonment for those found guilty of recruiting children under 16 years into prostitution, and 12 years of imprisonment for recruiting children under 12 years.3054 Promoting, filming, or selling child pornography is prohibited.3055 The government has approved a law calling for the criminalization of sex tourism, which imposes a penalty of imprisonment of 5 to 7 years for convicted offenders.3056 Trafficking in persons is penalized with 4 to 10 years of imprisonment.3057

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws.3058 Within the Ministry of Labor's Inspector General's Office, there is a Child Labor Inspector's Office; however, the Office does not have its own inspectors.3059 The country's 72 general inspectors and 18 hygiene and safety inspectors are responsible for carrying out regular inspections throughout the country to monitor labor conditions, including child labor violations.3060 The Ministry of Government is responsible for law enforcement in the country, operates an anti-trafficking office, and leads the National Coalition against Trafficking in Persons.3061 The Office of the National Prosecutor, through its specialized Women and Children's unit, is responsible for prosecuting trafficking cases.3062 The Office of the Human Rights Prosecutor also has separate Special Prosecutors for Women, Children, and Adolescents who investigate trafficking cases.3063 However, the U.S. Department of State notes that the laws addressing trafficking in persons do not protect all adolescents under 18 years and that government progress in victim assistance, protection and prosecution of traffickers was limited. In addition, the deficit of data collection and registration of trafficking of persons cases and loose immigration controls between the borders of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala further weaken government efforts to pursue enforcement actions against traffickers effectively.3064

In October 2006, the Ministry of Labor published the government's annual list of 49 types of work that are harmful to the health, safety, and morals of children, as required under ILO Convention 182.3065

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

On April 4, 2006, the government's Policy on Special Protection for Children and Adolescents was enacted. The policy includes special protections for victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons.3066 The government's National Council for the Integral Attention and Protection of Children and Adolescents is responsible for a 5-year National Plan against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (2003-2008) and a 10-year National Action Plan for Children and Adolescents.3067

Through June of 2006, the Government of Nicaragua participated in a 3-year, USD 3 million USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC Central America regional project to combat hazardous child labor in agriculture. At the regional level, the project withdrew 2,309 children from hazardous agriculture and prevented 2,693 others from becoming engaged in similar activities.3068 The government continues to participate in a 4-year, USD 8.4 million regional project to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The project aims to withdraw and prevent 580 children from commercial sexual exploitation in Nicaragua.3069 The government also participated in a USD 500,000 ILO-IPEC project to combat child domestic work funded by the Government of the Netherlands, which ended in February 2006.3070 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.3071

In coordination with the Nicaraguan government, CARE-USA is implementing a USD 5.5 million regional project funded by USDOL to combat exploitive child labor through the provision of quality basic education. The project aims to withdraw and prevent 2,984 children and adolescents from exploitive child labor in the region.3072 The government also implements a project to prevent and eradicate child labor in small-scale mining, and another to combat child labor in the tobacco-growing sector.3073

Through its Program for Children and Adolescents at Risk, the Ministry of Family works to remove children from work, provide counseling to children and their families, and coordinate with other government agencies, the police, and NGOs to provide services.3074 The ministry also operates a "traffic lights" project to assist children who perform odd jobs around traffic intersections.3075 In addition, the Ministry is responsible for the operation of a shelter that provides services to minor victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and a national hotline for victims of abuse and exploitation.3076

The Ministries of Government, Education, Tourism, and the Women's Division of the National Police continued to implement trafficking awareness campaigns specifically for border police, immigration officials, students, teachers, the press and the tourism industry.3077 The government also sponsored an education program in the city of Granada with the Ministry of Tourism to train hotel owners and taxi drivers to discourage the commercial sexual exploitation of children.3078 Also, the Nicaraguan branch of INTERPOL collaborates with its counterparts in Guatemala, El Salvador, and in other countries in the region.3079


3026 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

3027 U.S. Department of State, "Nicaragua," 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/2006/78899.htm. See also Ley núm. 474 por la que se dicta la Ley de reforma al Título VI, Libro Primero del Código de Trabajo, (October 21, 2003), Article 2; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_isn=67286.

3028 Government of Nicaragua, Constitución de Nicaragua, (1987, with 1995 reforms), Article 121; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Nica/nica95.html. See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, December 19, 2006.

3029 Government of Nicaragua, Constitución de Nicaragua, Article 121. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 5.

3030 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3031 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3032 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3033 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3034 ILOLEX, C138 Minimum Age Convention, 1973, accessed October 12, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgilex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=4971&chapter=19&query=C138%40ref&highlight=&q uerytype=bool.

3035 ILOLEX, C182 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999, accessed October 12, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgilex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=6834&chapter=19&query=C182%40ref&highlight=&q uerytype=bool.

3036 ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour Highlights 2006, Geneva, February, 2007; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

3037 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3038 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, December 19, 2006.

3039 Ministry of Labor, ILO-IPEC, and CNEPTI, National Report on the Results of the Child and Adolescent Labour Survey in Nicaragua, April 2003, 29. See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, December 19, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 6d.

3040 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 6d.

3041 Ibid., section 6d. See also U.S. Department of State, "Nicaragua (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65989.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3042 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 5.

3043 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Nicaragua."

3044 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3045 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Nicaragua."

3046 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3047 Ley núm. 474, Article 2. See also Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Ley. No. 287, (May 1998), Article 73; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/55822/66754/S98NIC01.htm.

3048 Ministry of Labor, ILO-IPEC, and CNEPTI, National Report on the Results of the Child and Adolescent Labour Survey, 17.

3049 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 6d.

3050 Ley núm. 474, Articles 3-5.

3051 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, December 19, 2006. See also Ley núm. 474, Article 6. See also NATLEX, Decreto núm. 22-97 de creación de la Comisión Nacional para la erradicación progresiva del trabajo infantil y la protección del menor trabajador, 1997; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_country=NIC&p_classification=04&p_ori gin=COUNTRY.

3052 Constitución Política de la República de Nicaragua (1987, with 1995, 2002 and 2005 reforms), Articles 40-44; available from http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Nica/nica05.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 6c.

3053 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Nicaragua," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=833.

3054 Código Penal de la República de Nicaragua, (1974); available from http://www.unifr.ch/derechopenal/legislacion/ni/cp_nicaragua3.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Sections 5 and 6d.

3055 Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Article 69.

3056 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 5.

3057 Código Penal, Article 203.

3058 Ministry of Labor, Política Institucional, [online] [cited August 16, 2006]; available from http://www.mitrab.gob.ni/mision.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Nicaragua," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61734.htm.

3059 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, August 12, 2004.

3060 Ibid.

3061 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, July 26, 2005. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 5.

3062 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3063 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3064 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Nicaragua." See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3065 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3066 ILO-IPEC, "Stop the Exploitation" ("Alto a la explotación") Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, technical progress report, RLA/02/P51-05/52/USA, September 13, 2006, 2.

3067 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, December 19, 2006. See also CONAPINA, Plan Nacional Contra La Explotación Sexual Comercial de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes 2003-2008, November 2003. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Written Replies by the Government of Nicaragua Concerning the List of Issues (CRC/C/Q/NIC/3) Formulated by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Connection with Consideration of the Third Periodic Report of Nicaragua (CRC/C/125/Add.3), CRC/C/RESP/83, prepared by Government of Nicaragua, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, April 18 2005, 54; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/3faa16ea862e67b2c125701f00457e2f/$ FILE/CRC_C_RESP_83(E).doc.

3068 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labour in Agriculture in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic (Phase II), project document, RLA/03/P50/USA, September 17, 2003. See also USDOL, ILAB Technical Cooperation Project Summary: Prevention and Progressive Elimination of Child Labor in Agriculture in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic (Phase II).

3069 ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, addendum, Geneva, September 2005.

3070 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 8, 2005.

3071 Social Accountability International, Project CULTIVAR: Advancing Labor Rights in Agriculture in Central America, project document, New York, August 8, 2007.

3072 CARE USA, APRENDO Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor Through Education in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) and the Dominican Republic, project document, 2004.

3073 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Written Replies by the Government of Nicaragua Concerning the List of Issues (CRC/C/Q/NIC/3), 56.

3074 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, July 26, 2005.

3075 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Written Replies by the Government of Nicaragua Concerning the List of Issues (CRC/C/Q/NIC/3), 56.

3076 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Nicaragua." See also U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3077 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Nicaragua." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Nicaragua," Section 5.

3078 U.S. Embassy – Managua, reporting, March 27, 2007.

3079 Ibid.

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