Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 13:56 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Côte d'Ivoire

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 - Côte d'Ivoire, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46930.html [accessed 25 July 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 Labor920
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2006:39.8
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2006:41.5
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2006:38.0
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:Not compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2003:70
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2003:55
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2002:55.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2000:88
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Côte d'Ivoire, many children work in agriculture on family farms.921 Children also work in the informal sector, mainly in urban centers, including as street vendors, shoe shiners, errand runners, car washers and watchers, as food sellers in street restaurants, and in public works construction.922 Children also work in small workshops and in small-scale family-operated gold and diamond mines.923 Children working in Ivorian mines perform activities such as digging holes, clearing out water from holes, and carrying and washing gravel. Many children that work in mines report illness due to the activities they perform.924 Ivorian girls as young as 9 years old work as domestic servants, and some are subject to mistreatment including sexual abuse.925

According to a 2002 study carried out by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) carried out in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria, the majority of children in the cocoa sector work alongside their families on farms owned either by immediate or extended relatives. Many of the working children in Côte d'Ivoire come from outside the country's cocoa zone, either from other regions within the country or from neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso.926 There are also credible reports of children being trafficked from Burkina Faso, Mali, and Togo to work on Ivorian cocoa and coffee farms.927 According to the IITA study, approximately one-third of children who live in cocoa-producing households have never attended school.928 Children working on cocoa farms are at risk of being involved in hazardous tasks, such as carrying heavy loads, spraying pesticides without protection, using machetes to clear undergrowth, and burning vegetation.929 Subsequent studies conducted by the Ivorian Government in 2005 and 2007 substantiate many of the findings of the 2002 IITA study.930

Côte d'Ivoire is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked children. Trafficking occurs more frequently within the country and takes place from the northern localities to cities in the south.931 Children are also trafficked to Abidjan to work in the informal sector. Children are trafficked to work as domestic servants, in mines, in restaurants, and on palm oil plantations. Girls are trafficked domestically to work as domestic servants, and for commercial sexual exploitation.932

Children are trafficked into Côte d'Ivoire from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Mauritania to work as domestic servants, farm laborers, and for sexual exploitation.933 In particular, boys are trafficked from Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso for work on cocoa, coffee, pineapple, and rubber plantations; from Guinea to work in the mining sector; from Togo to work in construction; and from Benin for carpentry work. Boys from Ghana and Togo are also trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire to work in the fishing industry.934 Ivorian boys have also been trafficked to Mali, lured by the promise of working as soccer players in Europe. Ivorian girls are trafficked to Gabon to work as domestic servants. Girls are also trafficked to Côte d'Ivoire from Ghana, Togo, and Benin to work as domestic servants and street vendors and from Nigeria, China, Ukraine, and the Philippines to work as waitresses and prostitutes in street-side restaurants.935

While there were not reports of the recruitment of new child soldiers, there was evidence that the government militias and rebel groups continued to use children for forced labor in a non-combat capacity.936

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for admission to work and apprenticeships is 14 years.937 Ivorian law requires parents or legal guardians to sign employment contracts on behalf of children under 16 years and to serve as witnesses to contracts signed by children between 16 and 18 years.938 Night work by children under 18 is prohibited, and all children are required to have at least 12 consecutive hours of rest between work shifts. The Labor Inspectorate can require children to take a medical exam to ensure that the work for which they are hired does not exceed their physical capacity.

Ivorian law prohibits forced or compulsory labor.939 If labor is imposed on a person, the penalty is 1 to 5 years in prison and a fine.940 The Government has defined the following types of hazardous work as prohibited for children under 18 years: agriculture, forestry, mining, commerce and in the urban informal sector, handicrafts, and transport.941 Persons convicted of pimping where the victim is under 21 years may be imprisoned for 2 to 10 years and charged a fine.942 The minimum age for both voluntary and compulsory recruitment into the military is 18 years.943

While the law does not directly forbid trafficking in persons, including children, traffickers may be prosecuted for kidnapping, mistreating, or torturing children with a punishment of 1 to 5 years of imprisonment and a fine. Alienation of a person's freedom is punishable by 5 to 10 years of imprisonment, with the maximum penalty enforced if the victim is under 15 years.944 Individuals who receive or leave a person as financial security face a fine and a penalty of 6 months to 3 years in prison, which automatically increases to 5 years when the victim is under the age of 15 years.945

Côte d'Ivoire was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.946 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project; to assist each other in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.947

The Ministry of Civil Service and Employment is the Government agency responsible for enforcement of child labor laws.948 In September 2007, a Nigerian couple was arrested, tried, and sentenced for the crime of trafficking six girls from Nigeria to Côte d'Ivoire.949 In 2007, the Office of the Prime Minister established the Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector Task Force.950

According to USDOS, the Government has continued efforts to eliminate of the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector.951

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

According to Tulane University, the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana have taken steps towards implementing agreements under the Harkin-Engel Protocol, by creating task forces and developing national action plans to combat exploitive child labor in the cocoa sector, and commencing child labor surveys in the cocoa sector.952 In addition, members of the Governments of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire participate in the International Cocoa Verification Board (ICVB), which was created by Verité, Inc. in December 2007, with funding from the international cocoa industry, in order to strengthen remediation efforts, improve national surveys, and work towards verification. Plans for verification include two phases, the first verifying methodology and data of surveys and the second improving the linkage between information collected and efforts to remediate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector.953

In September 2007, the Ivorian Government adopted a National Action Plan on Child Labor and Trafficking.954 The objectives outlined under the plan include understanding the full breadth of the issues, adopting additional laws, and providing for the reintegration of children.955 The Plan is designed to significantly reduce the worst forms of child labor and to decrease child labor by 50 percent in 3 years. The Plan also aims to strengthen and expand the Government's Child Labor Monitoring System.956 The National Action Plan was developed by the Ministry of Labor, which has pledged USD 4.57 million for activities under the Plan.957 On November 30, 2007, the Government completed a pilot study on child labor in the cocoa sector.958

The National Committee for Combating Trafficking and Child Exploitation is implementing a child trafficking monitoring system. The Government has also provided support to victim shelters by providing NGOs with office space and personnel.959 The Ministry of Family and Social Affairs has continued awareness-raising campaigns, targeting children at risk of being trafficked and industries that employ child labor, as well as local Government officials and school leaders.960

The Government continued to cooperate with the 3-year project to oversee the efforts of the international cocoa industry and the Governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa sector, funded by USDOL at USD 4.3 million and implemented by Tulane University, in partnership with the West African Health Organization (WAHO). In October 2007, Tulane submitted its first annual report to the U.S. Congress on the status of public and private efforts to implement agreements under the Harkin-Engel Protocol.961 The Government of Côte d'Ivoire also participated in the Combating Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Phases I & II (LUTRENA) regional project, funded by USDOL at 9.28 million and implemented by ILO-IPEC, to combat the trafficking of children for exploitive labor. During Phase II of LUTRENA, from July 2001 to December 2007, the project withdrew 4,240 and prevented 7,213 children from being trafficked in the region.962 Since 2006, the Government has also participated in a trafficking project funded by USDOS at USD 250,000, aiming to strengthen the National Committee for Combating Trafficking in Children and Child Exploitation.963

USAID and the international cocoa industry continued to fund the Sustainable Tree Crops Program in Côte d'Ivoire, a public-private partnership that promotes sustainable tree crop systems, including coffee, cocoa, and cashews, and contains a component to prevent and eliminate the worst forms of child labor on farms.964 UNICEF supported alternative education programs for children that work in cattle herding.965 Government officials participated in International Cocoa Initiative awareness-raising training sessions.966


920 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 Côte d'Ivoire, Code du travail, No. 95/15, (1995), article 23.8; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/F95CIV01.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Cote d'Ivoire," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2007, Washington, DC, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/c25283.htm.

921 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 6d.

922 Ibid. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants aux fins d'Exploitation de leur Travail dans le Secteur Informel a Abidjan Cote d'Ivoire, Geneva, 2005, 2, 18; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=5178.

923 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 6d. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants: Secteur Informel, 2, 18. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 21, 2008.

924 ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants aux fins d'Exploitation de leur Travail dans les Mines d'Or D'Issia Cote d'Ivoire, Geneva, 2005, 35-39, 45; available from http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=5176.

925 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 6d. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants: Secteur Informel, 2, 18.

926 International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector of West Africa: A Synthesis of Findings in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, Yaoundé, August 2002, 12, 16.

927 German Agency for Technical Cooperation, La traite et les pires formes de travail des enfants dans les plantations de café-cacao en Côte d'Ivoire: La situation dans les départements Abengourou, Oumé, et Soubré (Abidjan: 2005). See also International Cocoa Initiative official, Meeting with USDOL official, October 4, 2006.

928 International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Summary of Findings from the Child Labor Surveys in the Cocoa Sector of West Africa: Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, IITA, Yaoundé, July 2002. See also Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Child Labor Monitoring System in the Cocoa Sector in Côte d'Ivoire Pilot Project (CLMS PP), Abidjan, December 2005, 22.

929 International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Summary of Findings from the Child Labor Surveys in the Cocoa Sector of West Africa. See also Government of Côte d'Ivoire, CLMS Pilot Project, 35. See also USAID, USAID and Labor Department Release Data from Collaborative Survey on Child Labor on Cocoa Farms in West Africa: W. African Governments and Global Chocolate Industry Working Jointly with U.S. to Combat Problem, Press Release, Washington, DC, July 26, 2002; available from http://www.usaid.gov/press/releases/2002/pr020726_2.html.

930 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Executive Summary: Côte d'Ivoire issues Initial Pilot Survey Report on labor in the cocoa sector, Abidjan, November 2007; available from http://www.cacao.ci/commun/documents/Executive_summary_CdI_pilot_survey.pdf. See also Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Enquete Initiale de Diagnostic a Agnibilekrou, Tiassale et Soubre, Abidjan, November 2007, 7-10; available from http://www.cacao.ci/commun/documents/Rapport_EID_pilote_CdI.pdf. See also Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Press Release: Côte d'Ivoire issues Initial Pilot Survey Report on labor in the cocoa sector, Abidjan, November 2007; available from http://www.cacao.ci/commun/documents/CdI_pilot_survey_press_release.pdf. See also Government of Côte d'Ivoire, CLMS Pilot Project, 25, 35.

931 U.S. Department of State, "Cote d'Ivoire (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 5.

932 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 5. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants: Travail dans les Mines, 24. See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants: Secteur Informel, 6. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan official, E-mail communication, July 21, 2008.

933 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 5. See also German Agency for Technical Cooperation, La traite et les pires formes de travail des enfants dans les plantations de café-cacao en Côte d'Ivoire, 28. See also Xaquin Lopez, "Sur la piste des enfants esclaves," Courrier International, no. 900 (February 6, 2008); available from http://www.courrierinternational.com/gabarits/html/default_online.asp. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Child Trafficking in Cote d'Ivoire: Efforts Under Way to Reverse a Tragic Trend", IRINnews.org, [online], June 14, 2007 [cited March 15, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cotedivoire_39995.html.

934 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire." See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants: Travail dans les Mines, 24.

935 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire." See also ILO-IPEC, La Traite des Enfants: Travail dans les Mines, 24.

936 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 6d. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Cote d'Ivoire: Former Child Soldiers at Risk", IRINnews.org, [online], February 13, 2008 [cited March 15, 2008]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=76729. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan official, E-mail communication, July 21, 2008.

937 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Code du travail, 1995, Article 23.8.

938 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Loi n° 70-483 sur la Minorité, (August 3, 1970), chapter III, article 31.

939 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Code du travail, 1995, articles 3, 22.2, 22.3, 23.9.

940 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Code Penal, 1981, (August 31,), articles 362, 371, 376-378 available from http://droit.francophonie.org/df-web/publication.do?publicationId=198&sidebar=true.

941 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Arrêté n° 2250 Portant détermination de la liste des travaux dangereux interdits aux enfants de moins de dix huit (18) ans, (March 14, 2005); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details.

942 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Code Penal, (August 31, 1981), article 336; available from http://droit.francophonie.org/df-web/publication.do?publicationId=198&sidebar=true.

943 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. "Côte d'Ivoire", In Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/home.

944 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Code Penal, 1981, articles 362, 371, 376-378

945 Ibid.

946 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2006, 2.

947 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, Technical Progress Report, 10-11.

948 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 6d.

949 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 5.

950 Tulane University, First Annual Report: Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Cote d'Ivoire and in Ghana New Orleans, October 31, 2007, 27; available from http://childlabor-payson.org/tu_docs.html.

951 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire." See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire," section 5.

952 Tulane University, Tulane University, First Annual Report, 8-9, 26-28.

953 International Verification Board, International Verification Board, [online] n.d. [cited March 19, 2008]; available from http://www.cocoaverification.net/. See also Verite, New International Cocoa Verification Board Formed – Launches Verification of African Cocoa Certification Effort, Press Release, Amherst, January 30, 2008; available from http://www.cocoaverification.net/News.html. See also Verite, International Cocoa Verification Board Issues RFP for Verification of Certification Activities in West African Cocoa Farming, Press Release, Amherst, February 25, 2008; available from http://www.csrwire.com/PressReleasePrint.php?id=11189. See also Verite, Verite Announces Major Step Forward in Improving Labor Conditions in the Cocoa Sector, Press Release, Amherst, December 21, 2007; available from http://www.cocoaverification.net/News.html.

954 U.S. Embassy – Abidjan, October 3, 2007, para IVa. See also Government of Cote d'Ivoire official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 23, 2007. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan Official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 21, 2008.

955 Government of Cote d'Ivoire official, E-mail communication, November 23, 2007, 14.

956 U.S. Embassy – Abidjan, October 3, 2007, para IVa. See also Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Press Release: Côte d'Ivoire issues Initial Pilot Survey Report on labor in the cocoa sector. See also Tulane University, Tulane University, First Annual Report, 33.

957 U.S. Embassy – Abidjan, reporting, December 12, 2007, para 11. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 21, 2008.

958 Government of Côte d'Ivoire, Press Release: Côte d'Ivoire issues Initial Pilot Survey Report on labor in the cocoa sector.

959 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire."

960 U.S. Embassy – Abidjan, reporting, December 12, 2007, para 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Cote d'Ivoire."

961 Tulane University, Tulane University, First Annual Report, 1. See also U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Labor Department Funds Project to Evaluate Effectiveness of Anti-Child-Labor Efforts in the Cocoa Industry, Press Release, October 3, 2006.

962 ILO-IPEC, Amendment to Project Document "Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa", Project Document, Geneva, September 3, 2004, 1 and 8. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical Progress Report, Geneva, September 1, 2007, 1-3. See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, LUTRENA Project Table III.C. Final Report March 2008 E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 24, 2007.

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

964 USAID, "Chocolate Companies Help West African Farmers Improve Harvest," USAID Frontlines (September, 2005); available from http://www.usaid.gov/press/frontlines/fl_sep05/pillars.htm. See also International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Sustainable Tree Crops Program, [online] March 20, 2006 [cited December 3, 2007]; available from http://www.treecrops.org/index.htm. See also U.S. Embassy – Abidjan, reporting, December 12, 2007, para 9. See also World Cocoa Foundation, Sustainable Tree Crops Program – Cote d'Ivoire, [online] [cited December 31, 2007]; available from http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/difference/STCPCotedIvoire_Summary.asp.

965 Integrated Regional Information Networks, Cote d'Ivoire: Tend to cattle then go to class, [online] December 4, 2007 [cited December 5, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=75689.

966 Tulane University, Tulane University, First Annual Report, 28.

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