Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Sierra Leone

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 - Sierra Leone, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d749514f.html [accessed 23 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 5-14 estimated as working:69.1%3740
Minimum age for admission to work:123741
Age to which education is compulsory:123742
Free public education:Yes3743*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:145%3744
Net primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:42.7%3745
As of 2001, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:Unavailable
Ratified ILO Convention 138:No3746
Ratified ILO Convention 182:No3747
ILO-IPEC participating country:No3748
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Sierra Leone work in family businesses, petty vending, and on family subsistence farms.3749 Street children are employed by adults to sell, steal, and beg. Children also mine alluvial diamond fields.3750

Within Sierra Leone, children are trafficked to urban areas, where they work in domestic service or engage in prostitution. Children are also trafficked to diamond mining areas, where they are sexually exploited or compelled to work in mining.3751

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment in "light" labor at 12.3752 Children between the ages of 12 and 18 may perform work in certain non-hazardous occupations, if they have parental consent.3753 Children under the age of 15 may not engage in any public or private industrial undertaking.3754

The use of forced and bonded labor, including by children, is prohibited by the law.3755 The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children and defines a child as a person under

16. Procuring or attempting to procure a girl for prostitution is punishable by up to 2 years in prison.3756 The law criminalizes all forms of human trafficking.3757 The law also prohibits any person under the apparent age of 17 and 6 months from enlisting in the armed forces without parental consent.3758

The Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Industrial Relations is charged with administering existing labor laws and preventing the worst forms of child labor.3759 The Ministry of Mineral Resources enforces prohibitions against the use of child labor in mining activities.3760 According to the U.S. Department of State, the government lacks the resources to enforce existing labor laws.3761

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

In July 2006, Sierra Leone was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children in the West and Central African Regions.3762

In partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone and with funding from USDOL, the International Rescue Committee is implementing a USD 6 million Child Labor Education Initiative project in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The project aims to withdraw a total of 8,243 children and prevent a total of 21,647 children from exploitive child labor by improving access to and quality of education.3763 Sierra Leone also participates in a 5-year, USDOL-funded Reducing Child Labor through Education (CIRCLE 1) global project, being implemented by Winrock International through 2007, which aims to reduce exploitive child labor through the provision of educational opportunities.3764


3740 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

3741 U.S. Department of State, "Sierra Leone," 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/2006/78756.htm.

3742 Ibid. See also U.S. Embassy – Freetown, reporting, January 5, 2007, para 5 and 3.

3743 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Sierra Leone," Section 5.

3744 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

3745 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

3746 ILO, Ratifications by Country: Sierra Leone, September 25, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/docs/declAFpr.htm.

3747 Ibid.

3748 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.

3749 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Sierra Leone," Section 6d.

3750 Ibid.

3751 U.S. Embassy – Freetown, reporting. January 5, 2007, para 2.

3752 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Sierra Leone," Section 6d.

3753 International Rescue Committee, Child Labor and Education in Sierra Leone: Needs and Resource Assessment in Targeted Communities, New York, June 2006, 35; available from http://www.theirc.org.

3754 Ibid.

3755 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Sierra Leone," Sections 6c and 6d.

3756 Government of Sierra Leone, Prevention of Cruelty to Children Ordinance, [1926], [cited October 17, 2006], Part I (Article 2) and Part II (Articles 6-13); available from http://www.sierra-leone.org/Laws/preventionofcrueltytochildren.html.

3757 UNICEF, Sierra Leone Signs Anti-Trafficking Act, [online] [cited October 17, 2006]; available from http://www.unicef.org/media/media_28011.html.

3758 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Solidiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004, 96; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=966.

3759 Government of Sierra Leone, MLIRSS State of the Nation Report, Freetown, 2002; available from http://www.daco-sl.org/encyclopedia/1_gov/1_2/MLIRSS/MLIRSS_state_of_nation.pdf.

3760 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Sierra Leone," Section 6d.

3761 U.S. Embassy – Freetown, reporting. January 5, 2007, para 2-4.

3762 ECOWAS and ECASS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Sierra Leone," Section 5.

3763 International Rescue Committee, Countering Youth and Child Labour through Education (CYCLE), draft project document, New York, May 2006, 29.

3764 Winrock International, Project Fact sheet: Reducing Child labor through Education (CIRCLE 1); available from http://www.winrock.org/fact/facts.asp?CC=5411&bu=.

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