Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - East Timor

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 - East Timor, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 28 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, 10-14 years, 2001:100,087
Working children, 10-14 years (%), 2001:85.2
Working boys, 10-14 years (%), 2001:84.5
Working girls, 10-14 years (%), 2001:85.9
Working children by sector, 10-14 years (%), 2001:
     – Agriculture91.8
     – Manufacturing
     – Services8.2
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:Not compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:90.9
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:63.0
School attendance, children 10-14 years (%), 2001:86.3
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO Convention 138:No
ILO Convention 182:No
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

* Guaranteed by law, but no system has been established to ensure that education is available

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In East Timor, many children in rural areas work in agriculture, including on coffee farms. Children are also engaged in domestic service, primarily for adoptive families and their relatives; a small percentage work for third parties. Most of these children work in return for school fees or shelter. In urban areas, children are found working in the streets, selling a variety of items. Throughout the country, children are found working in construction under hazardous conditions. In coastal areas, children work in fishing. Children are commercially exploited for sexual purposes, including prostitution.

There are reports of internal trafficking of girls from rural areas to the capital, Dili, for commercial sexual exploitation.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years, although children working in vocational schools or in family-owned businesses are exempt. It is illegal for children between 15 and 18 years to perform work that jeopardizes their health, safety, or morals. However, the law allows for light work for children older than 12 years. According to USDOS, enforcement of the labor code is limited due to a lack of resources and capacity.

The law forbids compulsory labor. The minimum age for conscription into military service is 18 years. Trafficking is prohibited, and the penalty for trafficking minors is imprisonment of 5 to 12 years.

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

The Government works with children's rights and local women's NGOs to raise awareness on prevention of human trafficking and child sex abuse. USDOS and the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship are supporting an anti-trafficking program that aims to build the capacity and raise awareness of the Government.

Search Refworld