Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May 2016, 10:39 GMT

2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 7 June 2002
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago, 7 June 2002, available at: [accessed 24 May 2016]
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.

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

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago and NGOs are working together to conduct a systematic study of the child labor issue, and the government has recently moved to strengthen legislation.[2543] In 2000, the government pledged to begin providing universal and free access to secondary school education.[2544] There has also been an ongoing program to build up to 16 more secondary schools and to pay for textbooks for schoolchildren from low-income families.[2545]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children in Trinidad and Tobago under the age of 15 are unavailable. Reports indicate that children work as beggars, street vendors, and in family businesses.[2546] The prostitution of children and the use of children for trafficking drugs are not widespread, but there is evidence that children are involved in these activities.[2547] There are no reports of trafficking in children.[2548]

Primary education is free and compulsory between ages 6 and 12.[2549] Gross and net primary enrollment rates are unavailable. Reports indicate that absenteeism and school dropouts are problems; some parts of the school system suffer from overcrowding and substandard physical facilities.[2550]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Under the Children Act, the minimum age for employment in Trinidad and Tobago is 12 years.[2551] Children from 12 to 14 years of age may work only in family businesses. Children under the age of 18 are prohibited from night work, with the exception of 16 – to 18-year-olds, who may work at night in sugar factories.[2552] There are no laws that specifically address the sale or trafficking of children, serfdom, debt bondage, or compulsory labor or the use of children in illicit activities such as drug trafficking; however, the government does have criminal codes that prohibits prostitution and the use in pornography of those under age 16.[2553]

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services and the Ministry of Labor are responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws. Those found in violation may be subject to a combination of fines and imprisonment; however, there is a lack of enforcement of child labor laws particularly for street vending and begging.[2554] Occupational safety and health laws do not include provisions for children in the workplace.[2555]

Trinidad and Tobago has not ratified ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.[2556]

[2543] ILO, ILOLEX database [hereinafter ILOLEX database], at

[2544] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604, September 2001 [hereinafter unclassified telegram telegram 1604.

[2545] Ibid.

[2546] Ibid. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Trinidad and Tobago, CRC/C/15/Add.82 (Geneva, October 10, 1997).

[2547] Unclassified telegram 1604.

[2548] Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 – Trinidad and Tobago (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of State, 2000) [hereinafter Country Reports 2000], Sections 6d, 6f, at

[2549] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties Due in 1994, Trinidad and Tobago, CRC/C/11/Add.10, June 17, 1996 [hereinafter Initial Reports of States Parties], Section 7, No. 113, and Section 2, No. 27.

[2550] In 1995-1996, 21 percent of youth ages 5 to 16 years were absent from the formal school system. See World Bank Group, "Memorandum of the President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to the Executive Directors on a Country Assistance Strategy of the World Bank Group for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago," at See also unclassified telegram 1604.

[2551] Initial Reports of States Parties at Section 2, No. 28.

[2552] Country Reports 2000 at Section 6d.

[2553] Unclassified telegram 1604. See also The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children: A Human Rights Report: Trinidad and Tobago, The Protection Project, at on 11/6/01.

[2554] Unclassified telegram 1604.

[2555] Ibid.

[2556] ILOLEX database.

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