Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 12:25 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Bosnia and Herzegovina, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 31 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.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years, 2006:496,613
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:8.9
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2006:9.9
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2006:7.9
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:97.8
Net primary enrollment rate (%):
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2006:83.7
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO Convention 138:6/2/1993
ILO Convention 182:10/5/2001
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Succession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) work on construction sites. They also clean cars and work on the streets.

There have been reports of ethnic Roma children being trafficked to serve in begging rings. The majority of Roma children who live or work in the streets are under 14 years and do not attend school. Bosnia and Herzegovina is reported to be primarily a source of trafficking for women and girls trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation and, to much lesser extent for forced labor. Victims of trafficking have been reported as young as 13 years.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The 1995 Dayton Agreement established two distinct entities within BiH: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS). Later, an international arbitration tribunal established Brcko District (BD) as a self-governing territory. Laws at both the national level and entity level regulate issues related to exploitive child labor, with primary responsibility for labor laws being at the entity level in compliance with the Constitution.

The minimum age for work in FBiH, RS, and BD is 15 years. Minors aged 15 to 18 years are prohibited from working at night; night work in the industrial sector is from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. For FBiH and RS, night work in the non-industrial sector is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Minors are also prohibited from performing work that endangers their health or development. Further, minors need to provide a health certificate to work. Minors in FBiH and RS are prohibited from working overtime. The penalty for violating labor laws is a fine. Government officials state that limited funding and capacity make it difficult to enforce these laws.

Forced labor is prohibited by law. The BiH Criminal Code dictates a minimum 5-year prison term for actions that place or keep a minor in slavery with the intent to exploit labor and engage in other illegal activities.

Mandatory conscription into the armed forces was abolished in 2006, and BiH does not permit voluntary recruitment of individuals younger than 18 years of age. In FBiH, a parent or guardian who forces a minor to work in occupations unsuitable for his or her age, to engage in excessive work, or to beg may be punished by a prison term of 3 months to 5 years. In RS, the crime of involving minors in the production, sale, or transporting of drugs is punishable by a prison term of 3 to 15 years.

The BiH Criminal Code outlaws international procuring for prostitution and increases penalties to 1 to 10 years of imprisonment if the victim is a minor. The Criminal Codes of FBiH, RS, and BD all prohibit inducing, luring, or enabling another to offer sexual services, with punishments of a maximum of 12 to 15 years of imprisonment if the victim is a minor. FBiH, RS, and BD penalize the production and distribution of child pornography with a prison term of 3 to 5 years.

Trafficking of minors for the purpose of exploitation is punishable by 5 to 10 years of imprisonment. The Government has established standards of protection and aid to victims and witnesses of trafficking who are citizens of BiH. Provisions for children include mandatory and immediate reporting of exploitative incidences to the appropriate authorities. The BiH State Prosecutor's office has sole jurisdiction over all trafficking cases and has the authority to decide whether the cases will be prosecuted at the State level or at the entity level. The Ministry of Security coordinates the enforcement of anti-trafficking laws at all levels of government. According to USDOS, there were reports of public officials' involvement in trafficking, but these officials were not indicted.

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

In May 2008, the Council of Ministers adopted the State Coordinator's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Illegal Migration in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2008-2012. This plan establishes measures for victim services, prosecution, and international cooperation.

The Government has continued its anti-trafficking efforts by working with NGOs to provide services to victims; producing an anti-trafficking manual; and providing training for police, prosecutors, and social workers.

The Government of BiH participated in a USD 2.2 million regional program, funded by the Government of Germany and implemented by ILO-IPEC, to combat the worst forms of child labor. The project was completed in June 2008.

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