Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 15:39 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Rwanda

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 - Rwanda, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7494d1e.html [accessed 26 October 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 5-14 estimated as working in 2000:27.3%3557
Minimum age of work:163558
Age to which education is compulsory:133559
Free public education:Yes3560*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:119%3561
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:73%3562
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2000:55.3%3563
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:46%3564
Ratified Convention 138:4/15/19813565
Ratified Convention 182:5/23/20003566
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes, associated3567
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, approximately 29.9 percent of boys and 24.8 percent of 5 to 14 were working in Rwanda.3568 Children work in domestic service for third-party households, in brick making, sand extraction, stone quarrying, and on tea, rice, and sugar cane plantations.3569 Children also work in coffee harvesting, charcoal carrying and burning,3570 and manufacturing,3571 and are found working at waste disposal sites.3572 In the capital city of Kigali and in provincial capitals, children live on the streets and work as porters, car guards, garbage collectors, and vendors, selling small items such as cigarettes and candy. Street children, particularly girls, are at high risk of sexual exploitation.3573

Child prostitution is a problem in Rwanda,3574 particularly in urban areas. Children are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution, however the number of children engaged in prostitution remains low. Of the small numbers of girls engaging in prostitution, the majority are between 14 and 18 years.3575 Orphans are among the groups at highest risk for being exploited in prostitution.3576

In 2006, an armed group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recruited and trafficked Congolese refugee children living in Rwanda for forced labor and soldiering in the DRC.3577

The problem of child labor has been attributed partly to the high incidence of children who have been orphaned and are now heading households as a result of Rwanda's civil war, 1994 genocide,3578 and high incidence of HIV/AIDS.3579 Estimates of the number of child-headed households vary, with the 2002 census estimating that there are 15,052 and UNICEF estimating that there are 106,000.3580 Children who head households in Rwanda engage in informal work activities, primarily in subsistence agriculture. These households are most often headed by girls,3581 and these girls, along with those who work in domestic service, are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.3582

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age of employment at 16 years,3583 but this does not apply to children working in subsistence agriculture.3584 The Ministry of Labor can make exceptions to the minimum age law for children 14 to 16 years, for apprenticeships or other circumstances, and allow children to work with parental permission. Children under the age of 16 years are prohibited from working between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.; from performing any work deemed hazardous or difficult, as determined by the Ministry of Labor; and must have at least 12 hours of rest between work shifts.3585 The ILO CEACR has detected a gap in the labor code with respect to the age of admission to hazardous work. Children 16 to 18 years are allowed to engage in hazardous work, which is prohibited until 18 years under ILO Conventions 182 and 138.3586 In 2006, a by-law was adopted in Gicumbi District, which stipulated penalties for employers who engaged children in the worst forms of child labor.3587

Trafficking is not specifically prohibited by law. However, laws against slavery, forced prostitution, kidnapping, and child labor can be used to prosecute traffickers.3588 The law prohibits forced labor,3589 but not specifically by children.3590 All sexual relations with children are considered rape under Rwandan law. The law also prohibits prostitution and compelling another person to engage in prostitution. These crimes are punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine. Penalties are doubled if the crime is committed against a minor under the age of 18 years.3591 If the child is between 14 and 18 years and the crime is committed by a person in a position of authority over the child, it is punishable by a fine and life imprisonment. Using or exploiting children in pornographic publications is prohibited and is punishable by a fine and between 5 and 12 years imprisonment.3592 The law also prohibits the use of children in drug trafficking.3593 The law sets the minimum age for military service at 18 years.3594 However, this law does not apply to the Local Defense Forces,3595 a paramilitary government militia;3596 there are no mechanisms in place to prevent children from being recruited or to remove children from armed conflict.3597 Additionally, the government has not established any penalties for violations of the law against recruiting children under 18 years for military service.3598

The Ministry of Public Service, Skills Development, and Labor (MIFOTRA) is the ministry responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws. MIFOTRA employs 30 child labor inspectors. Inspectors generally address child labor violations by issuing warnings and educating employers on child labor laws.3599 In some cases, fines were levied against employers who employed children illegally and parents who made their children work to the detriment of their schooling. The government continued to support 12 regional child labor offices; however, these offices were not given adequate resources to identify or prevent child labor. According to the U.S. Department of State, the government lacked the staff and capacity to effectively enforce child labor laws.3600

The Rwanda National Police, which is part of the Ministry of Internal Security, is responsible for the government's efforts to fight trafficking3601 and for enforcing laws related to child prostitution. The MIFOTRA and the Ministries of Education, Gender, and Local Government are responsible for providing assistance to children exploited in prostitution.3602

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

The Government of Rwanda has a National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC), which targets working children, children living in child-headed households, children affected by armed conflict, children exploited in prostitution and sexual abuse, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and street children. The National Policy on OVC includes specific strategies to address child labor, which include improving children's working conditions, better enforcement of labor laws, supporting income-generating activities for families, strengthening a "catch up" education system, and conducting child labor studies and sensitization campaigns.3603 The Ministry of Gender and Family Protection, the lead implementing agency for the National Policy on OVC,3604 assists local NGOs to provide children exploited in prostitution with housing, health services, and vocational education.3605 The government also provided rehabilitation and training programs to children who had been working in plantations, mines, and quarries. These programs helped children to return to school.3606

The Government of Rwanda participated in a global USD 7 million USDOL-funded project implemented by ILO-IPEC to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict and support the rehabilitation of former child soldiers.3607 The project targets a total of 5,264 children for withdrawal and 4,250 children for prevention from involvement with armed groups in seven countries, including Rwanda.3608 Throughout 2006, children who had been soldiers in the DRC received assistance and reintegration services from the Muhazi child demobilization center in the Eastern province.3609 The Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission also operates a vocational training center for former child soldiers repatriated from the DRC.3610 The National Poverty Reduction Program, the Local Development Program through Labor-Intensive Public Works, and other local initiatives also provide opportunities for former child soldiers.3611 The government collaborated with the National Demobilization and Reintegration Committee to raise awareness among refugees living in Rwandan camps on the dangers of child soldiering.3612

The Government of Rwanda is collaborating on the 4-year, USD 14.5 million Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) project, funded by USDOL and implemented by World Vision, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and the Academy for Educational Development. The KURET Project aims to withdraw or prevent a total of 30,600 children from exploitive labor in HIV/AIDS-affected areas of these four countries through the provision of educational services.3613

The Government of Rwanda continues to provide police officers with training on sex crimes and crimes against children as part of its training curriculum. Specialized training on identifying human trafficking, including trafficking of children, was offered to many police officers in 2006.3614 The government closely monitors security checkpoints and vehicle cargo for signs of trafficking.3615

The Ministry of Education provides educational services to vulnerable children who were previously out of school, including domestic workers, street children, and children who head their households.3616 The government continues to work with NGOs to assist child-headed households and sensitize local officials to their needs.3617 Local authorities continue to place street children in foster homes or government-run facilities. The government supports 12 centers throughout the country that provide street children with shelter and meets basic needs.3618 Local government officials conducted an awareness raising campaign to sensitize employers on child labor.3619


3557 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

3558 Government of Rwanda, Law No. 51/2001 of 30/12/2001 Establishing the Labour Code, (December 30, 2001), Article 11; available from http://www.rwandainvest.gov.rw/lawlab.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Rwanda," 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/2006/81364.htm.

3559 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, National Education Systems, [online] [cited September 25, 2006]; available from http://www.uis.unesco.org/statsen/statistics/yearbook/tables/Table3_1.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5. See also Government of Rwanda, Constitution of Rwanda, (May 30, 1991), Article 27 Mandatory Education; available from http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/rw00000_.html.

3560 Government of Rwanda, Constitution of Rwanda, Article 27 Mandatory Education. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5.

3561 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

3562 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3563 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3564 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3565 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed on September 24, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

3566 Ibid.

3567 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006, 30; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

3568 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3569 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 6d.

3570 World Vision, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET), project document, July 18, 2005, 7.

3571 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, February 27, 2006.

3572 Republic of Rwanda, National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children, Kigali, 2003, 33.

3573 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5. See also Human Rights Watch, Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War on Rwanda's Children, New York, March 2003, 62-63; available from http://hrw.org/reports/2003/rwanda0403.

3574 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Overview para 27 B. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Sections 5 and 6d.

3575 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Sections 5 and 6d.

3576 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Prevention para 28 D,E.

3577 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Sections 2d, 5, 6c, and 6d.

3578 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, February 27, 2006.

3579 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5.

3580 U.S. Embassy – Kigali official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, August 11, 2006.

3581 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, November 17, 2005. See also Human Rights Watch, Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War on Rwanda's Children, 47-48.

3582 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Overview para 27 A. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5.

3583 Government of Rwanda, Labour Code, Law No. 51/2001 of 30/12/2001 Establishing the Labor Code, (December 30, 2001), Article 11; available from http://www.rwandainvest.gov.rw/lawlab.htm.

3584 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 6d.

3585 Government of Rwanda, Labour Code, Articles 11 and 60-66. U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 6d.

3586 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Madagascar (ratification: 2001), [online] 2006 [cited October 8, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm. See also ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention No. 182, Madagascar].

3587 World Vision, KURET (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together) Initiative, technical progress report, September 30, 2006, 7-8.

3588 U.S. Department of State, "Rwanda (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5.

3589 Government of Rwanda, Labour Code, Article 4.

3590 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 6d.

3591 Interpol – Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offences against Children, National Laws: Rwanda, September 24, 2006, accessed April 3, 2007; available from http://www.interpol.int/public/children/sexualabuse/nationallaws. See also The Protection Project, Criminal Code, Articles 363-365, 374; available from www.protectionproject.org [hard copy on file].

3592 Interpol – Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offences against Children, National Laws – Rwanda.

3593 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Investigation and Prosecution of Trafficking para. 29 A.

3594 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Programme, project document, Geneva, September 17, 2003, 23. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Rwanda," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=791. See also U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Investigation and Prosecution of Trafficking para. 29 A.

3595 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.182) Rwanda (ratification: 2000), [online] [cited September 24, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm. See also Human Rights Watch, Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War on Rwanda's Children, 16.

3596 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Child Soldiers Global Report 2004."

3597 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.182) Rwanda (ratification: 2000), [online]2006 [cited September 24, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm.

3598 Ibid.

3599 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, Kigali, December 14, 2006. See also U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, August 23, 2004.

3600 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 6d.

3601 Ibid., Section 5.

3602 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Prevention para. 28 B.

3603 Republic of Rwanda, National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children. See also ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, Rwanda.

3604 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Protection and Assistance to Victims para 30 A-C.

3605 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Rwanda." See also U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, Protection and Assistance to Victims paras 30 F, I.

3606 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, Rwanda.

3607 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict, project document.

3608 Ibid. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Programme, Annex to the project document, Geneva, September 17, 2006.

3609 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children involved in Armed Conflict, Annex to the project document, 4. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Sections 2c and 5.

3610 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children involved in Armed Conflict, Annex to the project document, 4.

3611 Ibid.

3612 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 2c.

3613 World Vision, KURET, project document.

3614 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5.

3615 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Rwanda."

3616 Ibid.

3617 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Rwanda," Section 5.

3618 Ibid.

3619 Ibid., Section 6d.

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