Last Updated: Monday, 22 December 2014, 11:16 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guatemala

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guatemala, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa473c.html [accessed 22 December 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 Labor1461
Working children, 7-14 years (%), 2003:21.1
Working boys, 7-14 years (%), 2003:26.2
Working girls, 7-14 years (%), 2003:16
Working children by sector, 7-14 years (%), 2003:
     – Agriculture62.3
     – Manufacturing11.4
     – Services24.2
     – Other2
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:11
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:113
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:94
School attendance, children 7-14 years (%), 2003:73.6
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2004:68
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Guatemala, the majority of working children are of indigenous heritage and from rural areas. 1462 Children work mostly in the informal sector and in small family enterprises. Working children are found primarily in the agricultural, fishing, hunting, and forestry industry sectors, followed by restaurants, hotels, and trade. To a lesser extent, children work in manufacturing and providing community, social, and personal services.1463 In rural and indigenous communities, children work to supplement the family income. Children reportedly work in flower production, food processing, and handling fresh produce.1464 Children can also be found working in mining, pyrotechnics, domestic labor, and performing deepwater work.1465

Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children are problems in Guatemala. In border areas, child migrants are vulnerable to forced prostitution.1466 Children in border areas with Mexico are also at risk for forced labor and begging. Children are trafficked into begging rings in Guatemala City.1467

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Constitution and the Labor Code set the minimum age for employment at 14 years.1468 In some exceptional cases, the Labor Inspectorate can issue work permits to children under 14 years, provided that the work is related to an apprenticeship, is light and of short duration and intensity, is necessary because of extreme poverty of the child's family, and does not interfere with the child's ability to meet compulsory education requirements.1469 Minors aged 14 to 17 are prohibited from working at night, working overtime, performing unhealthy and dangerous tasks, or working in bars or other establishments where alcoholic beverages are served.1470 The workday for minors less than 14 years is limited to 6 hours per day or 36 hours per week. Minors 14 to 17 years may work a maximum of 7 hours per day or 42 hours per week.1471 A 2006 governmental agreement identified the worst forms of child labor in Guatemala, established sanctions for violations, and called for inter-institutional coordination to combat the problem.1472

The law prohibits child pornography and prostitution. Procuring and inducing a minor to engage in prostitution are crimes that can result in fines and 2 to 6 years of imprisonment; the penalty increases by two-thirds from 3.3 to 10 years imprisonment if the victim is younger than 12 years. 1473 Guatemalan law prohibits forced or compulsory labor.1474 Trafficking is prohibited, with penalties of 6 to12 years of incarceration. Punishments are increased by one-third from 8 to 16 years if the victim is a minor.1475 Legislation adopted as part of the Peace Accords protects children under 18 years from military recruitment and deployment into armed conflicts.1476

The Ministry of Labor's Child Workers Protection Unit is responsible for enforcing child labor regulations as well as educating children, parents, and employers regarding the labor rights of minors.1477 Out of a total of 245 labor inspectors, the Labor Inspectorate has five specialized child labor inspectors. The Labor Inspectorate conducted 295 inspections involving child labor during 2007. The inspections identified 3,393 adolescents ages 14 to 17 years working illegally, and resulted in 42 complaints filed against employers.1478 In March 2007, a settlement was negotiated between an NGO and a food processing company, which benefited 24 child workers with payment of outstanding wages, school placement, removal from the job, and the guarantee of a position once they reach the age of 18.1479 In 2007, the Labor Inspectorate granted 36 work permits for children under 14 years of age.1480

An Inter-Agency Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Related Crimes has been established to coordinate initiatives in combating trafficking. The Commission is headed by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and includes Government, NGO, and international organization representatives.1481 The Public Ministry, which operates the Office of Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, Children and Victims of Trafficking, received 32 TIP-related cases, of which 28 remain under investigation, and no convictions have been secured.1482 USDOS reports increased governmental attention to rescuing minors from commercial sexual exploitation in bars, brothels, and other establishments .1483 However, it also reports that some local officials reportedly compromised police investigations and raids of brothels by taking bribes.1484

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

The Government of Guatemala, through its National Commission for the Elimination of Child Labor, is implementing the National Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and the Protection of the Adolescent Worker.1485 Government agencies and NGOs, under the coordination of the Secretariat of Social Welfare of the Presidency, are implementing the National Plan of Action against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Guatemala.1486 The Secretariat executes the Program Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation, which focuses on prevention, eradication, awareness raising, the promotion of public policy, and legislation on the issue.1487

During 2007, the Government trained officials of the Child Workers Protection Unit and the Special Unit of Labor Inspections on how to handle child labor cases. Labor inspectors nationwide received training on the protocol for attending to the adolescent worker.1488 The Government continued running seven shelters for trafficking victims, and also referred victims to NGOs to receive services. Three hundred children were rescued and transferred to NGOs.1489 The Guatemala City municipal government offers free meals and scholarships to families with former child workers in the gravel, coffee, broccoli, and fireworks industries.1490

The Government also participates in regional projects funded by USDOL. These include a USD 8.8 million regional project implemented by ILO-IPEC that seeks to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region. The project includes activities to remove and prevent children from exploitive work, as well as awareness raising, institutional capacity building, and regional and national coordination in Guatemala.1491 Additionally, the Government is part of the 4-year USDOL-funded USD 5.7 million regional project, the Child Labor Education Initiative, implemented by CARE to strengthen the Government and civil society's capacity to combat child labor through education, and withdraw or prevent 2,984 children from exploitive child labor.1492 Guatemala also participates in a 460,000 Euros ILO-IPEC global program funded by the Netherlands to combat child domestic work.1493


1461 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Guatemala, Constitution, (May 31, 1985, reformed November 17, 1993), article 102; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Guate/guate93.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Guatemala," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100641.htm.

1462 Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Plan Nacional para la Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil y Protección a la Adolescencia Trabajadora, Guatemala, 2001, 6-7; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/plan_eti_gt.pdf.

1463 ILO-IPEC, Summary of the Results of the Child Labour Survey in Guatemala, 2004, 4,5; available from http://white.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/gua_summary.pdf.

1464 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6d.

1465 Government of Guatemala, Informe al Departamento de Trabajo de los Estados Unidos, submitted in response to U.S. Department of Labor Federal Register Notice (2007) "Request for Information on Efforts by Certain Countries to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor", Washington, DC, 2007.

1466 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 5.

1467 U.S. Department of State, "Guatemala (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 5, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6d.

1468 Government of Guatemala, Constitution, 1985, article 102. See also Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo de la República de Guatemala, article 31,148; available from http://www.cosibah.org/codigos%20de%20trabajo%20Guatemala.pdf.

1469 Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo, article 150.

1470 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6d. See also Código de Trabajo de la República de Guatemala, 1996, 148.

1471 Government of Guatemala, Código de Trabajo, article 149,116.

1472 Government of Guatemala, Acuerdo gubernativo 250-2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=es&p_country=GTM&p_classification=04&p_origin= COUNTRY&p_sortby=SORTBY_COUNTRY.

1473 Government of Guatemala, Código Penal, Articles 188-189; available from http://www.oas.org/JURIDICO/MLA/sp/gtm/sp_gtm-int-text-cp.pdf.

1474 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6c.

1475 Government of Guatemala, Decreto núm. 14-2005 por el que se reforma el Artículo 194 del Código Penal (Trata de Personas). available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details?p_lang=en&p_isn=74634.

1476 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Guatemala," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=827.

1477 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6d.

1478 U.S. Embassy – Guatemala City, reporting, January 30, 2008.

1479 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6d.

1480 U.S. Embassy – Guatemala City, reporting, January 30, 2008.

1481 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 5.

1482 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Guatemala."

1483 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 5.

1484 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Guatemala."

1485 ILO, Ficha Pais:Guatemala, [online] 2007 [cited December 7, 2007]; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/ipec/documentos/ficha_pais_gua.pdf. See also Ministry of Labor and Social Security, Plan Nacional para la Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil.

1486 ECPAT International CSEC Database, Guatemala, accessed December 7, 2007; available from http://www.ecpat.net/.

1487 Secretariat of Social Welfare of the Presidency, Programa contra la Explotación Sexual Comercial, [online] 2007 [cited December 7, 2007]; available from http://www.sbs.gob.gt/4-programas-6-centro-3.html.

1488 U.S. Embassy – Guatemala City, reporting, January 30, 2008.

1489 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Guatemala."

1490 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guatemala," section 6d.

1491 ILO-IPEC, "Stop the Exploitation" ("Alto a la explotación") Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Project Document, RLA/02/P51-05/52/USA, San Jose, 2002, 2005, 1 and 63. See also ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, Project Addendum, Geneva, September 2005, 1 and 22.

1492 CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Revision, April 19, 2007, 1-2. See also CARE International, Primero Aprendo Project: Combating Exploitive Child Labor through Education in Central America and the Dominican Republic, Project Revision, September 29, 2006.

1493 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

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