Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April 2014, 14:04 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guyana

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 - Guyana, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa4752.html [accessed 17 April 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 Labor1556
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:26.3
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:28.7
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:23.9
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 (%), 2005:124
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2002:93
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:95.8
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2001:64
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Guyana work as porters, domestic servants, street vendors, and wait staff in bars and restaurants. Some are found working in sawmills and markets.1557 The work done in sawmills includes fetching sawdust, cutting timber, and operating machinery used to shape logs, while the work done in markets mainly consists of selling goods. Children are known to work in mining and the illicit drug trade.1558 There are reports of sexual exploitation of children in Guyana, including prostitution.1559

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years for most sectors, such as mining, manufacturing, construction, utilities, sanitation, transportation, and commercial agriculture. The minimum age does not apply to work done for the purpose of family business.1560 Children at least 14 years old may be employed if the work conducted is for general, vocational or technical education. Children younger than 16 years are prohibited from night work in industrial undertakings which include mining and quarrying, construction, reconstruction, maintenance, and transportation of passengers or goods.1561 Businesses that employ children are required to keep a child labor registry. There are fines for employers and parents who are guilty of direct involvement with child labor.1562

Forced labor is prohibited by the constitution.1563 The law sets the minimum age for voluntary enlistment in the armed forces at 18 years.1564 All forms of trafficking are prohibited by law, and penalties include life imprisonment, forfeiture of property, and payment of full restitution to the trafficked person.1565 Although child pornography or prostitution is not specifically mentioned in Guyanese law, the penalty for selling, publishing, or exhibiting obscene matter is 2 years in prison; carnal knowledge of a girl under 12 is life in prison; and carnal knowledge of a girl age 12 is 10 years in prison. Also, the law sets the age of sexual consent at 16, thus prohibiting sex with children younger than 16.1566 In addition, the penalty for procurement of a female under age 21 is 10 years in prison.1567 The penalty for unlawful detention of girl under age 18 for carnal knowledge is 10 years. The owner or occupier of a premises that permits the defilement of a girl ages 12 to 13 for the purposes of unlawful carnal knowledge is subject to 10 years imprisonment; if the victim was a girl under the age of 12, the penalty is life in prison.1568

The Child Protection Agency within the Ministry of Labor, Human Services and Social Security has principal responsibility for enforcing legislation relating to child labor. In the case of the unconditional worst forms of child labor, enforcement is handled by the Guyana National Police.1569 As of December 2006, the most recent date such information is available, the Ministry of Labor had 20 labor officers with authority to enter all workplaces to conduct inspections, including inspections concerning child labor.1570 Within the Ministry, an antitrafficking-in-persons unit has been established to enforce anti-trafficking laws.1571 In addition, the Ministry of Education has responsibility for enforcing provisions of the Education Act relating to the employment of children. As such, the Ministry of Education's attendance officers are authorized to enter any premise or place between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. on any day except Sunday and inquire whether any child resides or is employed there.1572

Although the law sets minimum age requirements for employment of children, according to USDOS, the Ministry of Labor lacks sufficient inspectors to enforce child labor laws effectively.1573

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

The Guyanese Government continues to participate in a USDOL-funded USD 2 million project implemented by Partners of the Americas to combat exploitive child labor through education, which aims to withdraw 1,267 and prevent 1,777 children from exploitive labor. The project also aims to build the capacity of the Guyanese Government to combat child labor, increase awareness about exploitive child labor in the country, and improve education access for working and at-risk children.1574 The Government of Guyana also participated during the report period in a USD 1.4 million regional project funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by ILO-IPEC aimed at combating the worst forms of child labor.1575


1556 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 Guyana, Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (Chapter 99:01) [revised 1999], article 3; available from http://www.gina.gov.gy/gina_pub/laws/Laws/cap9901.pdf. See also Government of Guyana, Education Act, revised 1999, Chapter 39:01, article 22; available from http://www.gina.gov.gy/gina_pub/laws/Laws/cap3901.pdf. See also Government of Guyana, Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, article 27; available from http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Guyana/guyana96.html.

1557 George K. Danns, Guyana The Situation of Children in the Worst Forms of Child Labor: A Rapid Assessment, International Labour Office, Port of Spain, October 2002, 34; available from http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/childlabour/library/rapid_assessment/raguy.pdf.

1558 Ibid.

1559 Partners of the Americas, Educare-Guyana: Combating Child Labor through Education in Guyana, technical progress report, September 30, 2007, 33. See also U.S. Department of State, "Guyana," in Country Report on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/.

1560 Government of Guyana, Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (Chapter 99:01), article 2-7, and Parts I and II. See also Government of Guyana, Education Act (Chapter 39:01), article 17-24. See also Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Guyana – A Guide to Legislative Reform, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, June 2005, 23.

1561 Government of Guyana, Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (Chapter 99:01), article 2-7, and Parts I and II. See also Government of Guyana, Education Act (Chapter 39:01), article 17-24. See also Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Guyana, 23.

1562 Government of Guyana, Employment of Young Persons and Children Act (Chapter 99:01), articles 3 and 5. See also Government of Guyana, Education Act (Chapter 39:01), article 20-21.

1563 Government of Guyana, Constitution of Guyana, article 140.

1564 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Guyana," in Global Report 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=828.

1565 Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Guyana, 26-27.

1566 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guyana."

1567 Government of Guyana, Criminal Law (Offences) Act articles 69, 70, 73, and 351; available from http://www.gina.gov.gy/gina_pub/laws/Laws/cap801.pdf.

1568 Ibid., articles 86-88.

1569 Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Guyana, 31.

1570 U.S. Embassy – Georgetown, reporting, December 20, 2006.

1571 Guyana Government Information Agency, TIP seminar opens at GWLI, [online] April 20, 2005 [cited December 14, 2007]; available from http://www.gina.gov.gy/archive/daily/b050420.html.

1572 Government of Guyana, Education Act (Chapter 39:01), articles 11 and 12.

1573 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guyana," Section 6d.

1574 Partners of the Americas, Educare-Guyana, technical progress report, 2, 12-14, 44.

1575 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, Electronic communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

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