Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2014, 14:08 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Suriname

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Suriname, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7490c3d.html [accessed 26 November 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 Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138 
Ratified Convention 182 
ILO-IPEC Associated Member
National Plan for Children
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under 15 in Suriname are unavailable.4416 According to an ILO survey, children work in agriculture, fishing, timber production, mining, domestic service, construction, the furniture industry, and as street vendors.4417 Young Maroon children work in the agricultural and transportation sectors.4418 The ILO found that while hours of work vary substantially, 41 percent of those surveyed worked more than 5 hours per day. Children also worked without adult supervision in some cases.4419 The commercial sexual exploitation of girls and boys exists in Suriname.4420 There were reports of girls being trafficked to Suriname from Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Guyana for this purpose. Some of these victims were then trafficked to Europe for sexual exploitation.4421 Internal trafficking for the purposes of domestic servitude and sexual exploitation also exists,4422 and the sexual exploitation of Maroon girls in the interior of the country is a concern.4423

The Constitution of Suriname mandates free and compulsory primary education.4424 Under the Compulsory School Attendance Act, the government is required to provide all children the opportunity to attend school between the ages of 7 and 12.4425 Despite this guarantee, most public schools impose school fees,4426 or access is limited due to a lack of teachers, building facilities and transportation.4427 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 126 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 97 percent.4428 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students officially registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Primary school attendance statistics are not available for Suriname.4429 Problems within the education system include an inefficient allocation of resources, low teacher quality, outdated curricula, a shortage of instructional materials, poor school facilities, and limited evaluation and monitoring of school performance.4430 In addition, classes are taught in Dutch, which is a second language for many students.4431

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Act sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.4432 Under Article 18 of the Labor Act, children who have reached age 12 may work only if it is necessary for training; does not have high physical or mental demands; and is not dangerous.4433 Article 20 of the Labor Act prohibits children from performing night work or work that is dangerous to their health, life, or morals.4434 Children below the age of 15 are prohibited from working on fishing boats. Violations of child labor laws are punishable by fines and up to 12 months in prison.4435 Parents who permit their children to work, in violation of child labor laws, may be prosecuted.4436

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Suriname. The Constitution prohibits forced labor.4437 Prostitution is illegal,4438 and procuring a minor for the purpose of sex is prohibited and punishable with up to three years in prison.4439 Under the 1987 Constitution (amended in 1992), military service is compulsory for all people between the ages of 18 and 35 years. However, according to the Surinamese Government, this requirement has been repealed and military service is no longer compulsory.4440 There are statutes that prohibit "white slavery," migrant smuggling, and pimping that pertain only to women and children.4441 The Government's Anti-trafficking Commission, comprised of representatives from the ministries of Justice and Police, Labor, Defense, and Foreign Affairs, is responsible for combating the issue of trafficking in persons.4442 A special police anti-trafficking unit has worked with officials in neighboring Curacao and Guyana to successfully arrest and convict child traffickers.4443

The Ministry of Labor's Department of Labor Inspections enforces and implements child labor laws.4444 However, according to the U.S. Department of State, staff shortages and lack of funding have resulted in inadequate child labor investigations, which rarely take place outside of urban areas.4445 The Labor Inspection office does not enforce the laws in the informal sector.4446

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

In 2002, the Government of Suriname developed an Action Plan for children (2002-2006) which addresses childhood policies and the worst forms of child labor.4447 In 2004, the Anti-trafficking Commission issued a National Action Plan to combat trafficking in persons.4448 Through May 2005, the government coordinated with ILO-IPEC on the second phase of a regional child labor project in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean. The project, funded by the Government of Canada, raised awareness about the worst forms of child labor, guided the work of the national child labor committee, conducted a review of relevant child labor legislation to identify gaps that permit the exploitation of children, and helped the government to identify hazardous occupations consistent with ILO Convention 182.4449 ILO-IPEC also works with the government to address exploitative domestic labor, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and child labor in agriculture.4450

The Justice Department has been reviewing national legislation on child abuse and exploitation to ensure its conformity with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The Bureau for Child Development, an office within the Foundation for Human Development, provides training to the Department of Justice, the police, and health workers to sensitize them to child rights and child abuse issues. This activity is now a standard component of police cadet training.4451 Various unions subsidized by the Ministry of Labor conduct education campaigns on the worst forms of child labor targeting school teachers, students, caregivers and public and private sector officials.4452

With support from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Government of Suriname, including officials from the Ministry of Justice and Police, received training on preventing and prosecuting trafficking in persons victims.4453 The Ministry also launched a one-year pilot project to establish a centralized Trafficking in Persons Unit as part of the Suriname Police Corps.4454 The Public Prosecutor's Office operates a "Special Victims Unit" and telephone hotline to assist victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.4455 The Police conducted raids in Paramaribo in areas of high incidence of child labor, including streets, nightclubs, brothels and casinos.4456 At the end of 2004, a government official was arrested for trafficking female victims into Suriname for commercial sexual exploitation.4457

The Ministry of Education and Community Development is implementing an IDB-financed project to improve the quality and internal efficiency of the education sector. Project activities include the expansion of compulsory education from six to ten years; the design of new curricula; teacher training reform and the development and provision of didactic materials; the rehabilitation of school infrastructure; and improved capacity of the Ministry of Education.4458


4416 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4417 As part of the survey, 142 key informants, 169 working children between the ages of 4 and 17, and 52 parents or guardians were interviewed. Marten Schalkwijk and Wim van den Berg, Suriname The Situation of Children in Mining, Agriculture, and other Worst Forms of Child Labour: A Rapid Assessment, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, Port of Spain, November 2002, 1,30, 46, and 52; available from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/system_links/link6tst.html.

4418 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, June 8, 2004. Maroon people are descendants of African slaves and have a distinct culture based on African and Amerindian traditions. See Rainforest Foundation US, Suriname Background, 2004 [cited July 1, 2005]; available from http://www.rainforestfoundation.org/1surinameback.html.

4419 Marten Schalkwijk and Wim van den Berg, Suriname The Situation of Children in Mining, Agriculture, and other Worst Forms of Child Labour, 49.

4420 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Suriname, Washington D.C., February 28, 2005, section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41775.htm.

4421 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report-2005: Suriname, Washington, D.C., June, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46616.

4422 Some children are promised work in cities but are tricked into commercial sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. Other children are trafficked to mining camps in the country's remote interior for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. Ibid.

4423 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, June 8, 2004.

4424 Right to Education, Constitutional Guarantees: Suriname, [database online] [cited October 5, 2005]; available from http://www.right-to-education.org/content/consguarant/suriname.html.

4425 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Report of States Parties Due in 1995, CRC/C/28/Add.11, prepared by Government of Suriname, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, September 1998, para. 118; available from http://www.hri.ca/fortherecord2000/documentation/tbodies/crc-c-28-add11.htm.

4426 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2005: Suriname, section 5.

4427 Ibid.

4428 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed October 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rates in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4429 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used.

4430 The Inter-American Development Bank, Basic Education Improvement Project, Loan Proposal, 1521/OC-SU, December 17, 2003, 2-6; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/doc98/apr/lcsuri.htm.

4431 There are 26 languages actively spoken in Suriname and the current curriculum does not take this fact into account. Ibid., 3.

4432 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2005: Suriname, section 6d. There is a gap between the last compulsory year of schooling (age 12) and the minimum age for employment (age 14). See U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, June 8, 2004.

4433 Arnold Halfhide Ambassador of Suriname to the United States, letter to USDOL official, November 29, 2000.

4434 Ibid.

4435 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, September 8, 2003.

4436 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, June 8, 2004.

4437 Constitution of Suriname 1987, with 1992 reforms, Article 15; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Suriname/english.html.

4438 Educational Broadcasting Corporation Inc., Dying to Leave, [online] 2004 [cited June 16, 2005]; available from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/shows/dying/map_suriname.html. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports 2005: Suriname, Section 5.

4439 Article 305 as cited in ILO-IPEC Official, email communication, May 3, 2004 to USDOL Official, May 3, 2004.

4440 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Global report 2004-Suriname, online, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=837. See also Constitution of Suriname, article 180. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties: Suriname, 19.

4441 Article 307 of the Penal Code. Protection Project, The Protection Project Human Rights Report of the Americas-Suriname, online, 2004; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/main1.htm.

4442 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2005: Suriname, section 5.

4443 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report-2005: Suriname.

4444 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, June 8, 2004.

4445 Ibid.

4446 Ibid.

4447 The government established a steering committee composed of representatives from relevant agencies to coordinate and implement the plan. See Department of Labour, Technological Development, and Environment, Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labour, October 11, 2002. See also ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, Child Labour in Suriname, 2002; available from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/infsources/child_labour/fact_sheets/SurFS.pdf. See also ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, Project Overview, [online] [cited October 5, 2005]; available from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/childlabour/printing versions/project-overview-print.htm.

4448 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, Washington, D.C., January 25, 2005.

4449 The project was implemented in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bahamas, Suriname, Belize, and Guyana. ILO Caribbean Office, Identification, Elimination and Prevention of the worst Forms of Child Labour in the Anglophone-and Dutch-Speaking Caribbean, [online] [cited October 3, 2005]; available from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/projects/index.htm. See also ILO-IPEC Official.

4450 ILO-IPEC, ¿Dónde Trabaja IPEC? [online] 2005 [cited October 3, 2005]; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/pagina.php?seccion=27&pagina=164.

4451 ECPAT International, Suriname, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited October 5, 2005]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

4452 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2005: Suriname, section 6d.

4453 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, January 25, 2005.

4454 The project involves the identification of trafficking in persons victims and the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. The project also includes greater scrutiny of aliens soliciting access at ports of entry and visa applicants through improved interview techniques. Ibid.

4455 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2005: Suriname, section 5.

4456 Ibid.

4457 U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, January 25, 2005. See also U.S. Embassy – Paramaribo, reporting, January 25, 2005.

4458 The Inter-American Development Bank, Basic Education Improvement Project.

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