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2003 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 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca39c.html [accessed 30 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.

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

In October 2002, officials of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago attended a regional meeting, "Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor", where participants presented new research on child labor and discussed policy ideas to address the problem.[4355] The government has also adopted an education policy that aims to promote secondary school attendance and improve educational opportunities.[4356]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, UNICEF estimated that 4.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were engaged in work. Approximately 52 percent of working children in this age group were estimated to perform domestic work for less than 4 hours per day; less than 1 percent spent more than 4 hours per day on such tasks.[4357] Children are engaged in agriculture, scavenging, loading, unloading and stocking goods, landscaping and gardening, car repairand washing, construction, fishing,[4358] and begging.[4359] Children also work as handymen, shop assistants, cosmetologists' assistants, domestic servants,[4360] or street vendors.[4361] There have been reports of child prostitution[4362] and of children involved in drug trafficking.[4363]

Primary education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 12.[4364] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 100.4 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 92.4 percent.[4365] In 1999, 99.7 percent of children enrolled in primary school reached grade 5.[4366] In 2000, 88.7 percent of primary school age children were estimated to be attending school,[4367] but the public school system does not adequately meet the needs of the schoolage population due to overcrowding, substandard physical facilities, and occasional violence in the classroom perpetrated by gangs. The government has committed resources to increasing access to free secondary education and building new facilities.[4368]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is set at 12 years. Children 12 to 14 years of age may work only in family businesses. Children under the age of 18 may work only during daylight hours; however, children ages 16 to 18 may work at night in sugar factories.[4369] There are no laws prohibiting trafficking,[4370] but the Criminal Code prohibits procuring a minor under the age of 16 years for the purpose of prostitution.[4371] The punishment for procurement is 15 years imprisonment.[4372] Trafficking may also be prosecuted under laws addressing kidnapping, labor conditions, procurement of sex, prostitution, slavery, and indentured servitude.[4373] The use of children under the age of 16 in pornography is also prohibited.[4374]

The Probation Service in the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services and the Ministry of Labor and Small and Micro-Enterprises are responsible for enforcing child labor provisions.[4375] Enforcement is weak because there are no established mechanisms for receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints.[4376]

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago ratified ILO Convention 182 on April 23, 2003, but has not ratified ILO Convention 138.[4377]


[4355] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243, October 2002.

[4356] Ibid.

[4357] Children who are currently working in some capacity include children who have performed any paid or unpaid work for someone who is not a member of the household, who have performed more than four hours of housekeeping chores in the household, or who have performed other family work. See Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2000 – Trinidad and Tobago, UNICEF, 2000; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/trinidad/trinidad.htm.

[4358] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243.

[4359] International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards in Trinidad and Tobago, Geneva, November 12-13, 1998; available from http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=990916172&Language=EN.

[4360] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 2243.

[4361] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18346.htm. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards.

[4362] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Section 6f. See also U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604, September 2001.

[4363] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604.

[4364] Ibid. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards.

[4365] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[4366] Ibid.

[4367] Government of Trinidad and Tobago, MICS 2000.

[4368] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Section 5.

[4369] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604. See also International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards.

[4370] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Section 6f.

[4371] Article 17 of the Criminal Code, as cited in The Protection Project, "Trinidad and Tobago," in Human Rights Report on Trafficking of Persons, Especially Women and Children: A Country-by-Country Report on a Contemporary Form of Slavery, March 2002; available from http://209.190.246.239/ver2/cr/tt.pdf.

[4372] Ibid.

[4373] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Section 6f.

[4374] U.S. Embassy-Port of Spain, unclassified telegram no. 1604.

[4375] Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Section 6d.

[4376] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Trinidad and Tobago, Section 6d.

[4377] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited June 12, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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