Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Liberia

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 - Liberia, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 23 November 2017]
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:
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2008:83.4
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2008:30.9
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO Convention 138:No
ILO Convention 182:6/2/2003
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Liberia work on family farms and in alluvial diamond and gold mines. On commercial rubber plantations, children tap rubber trees, clear brush, and carry buckets. Children are also engaged in scrap metal collection, charcoal production, foreign currency exchange, auto repair, stone crushing, and fishing. Children also work in the construction and timber sectors and as porters, truck loaders, and sand baggers. Some children, especially girls, engage in prostitution, in some cases to pay school fees or support their families.

Liberia is a country of origin, transit, and destination for trafficked children. Children are trafficked for domestic service, street vending, commercial sexual exploitation, and farm work from Liberia to Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, and Nigeria; and to Liberia from Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Côte d'Ivoire. Some Liberian children are trafficked internally for domestic service.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for work at 16 years. Children under 16 years are prohibited from working during the school day and may only work for wages if the employer can demonstrate that they are attending school regularly and have a basic education. Labor recruiters are permitted to hire children between 16 and 18 years for occupations approved by the Ministry of Labor.

Liberian law prohibits forced and bonded labor and slavery. The law criminalizes human trafficking and establishes sentences for the trafficking of children ranging from 11 to 16 years in prison. The law also bans the procuring of girls under 16 years of age for immoral purposes and for prostitution. In addition, the law prohibits any person under 16 years from enlisting in the military. In practice, the minimum age of voluntary recruits for Liberia's restructured national army is 18 years.

Liberia 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. As part of the regional Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Government of Liberia agreed to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders; to rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to assist fellow signatory countries to implement these measures under the Agreement.

According to USDOS, the Government of Liberia did not have the resources to effectively enforce existing labor laws. The Ministry of Labor's National Commission on Child Labor conducted two investigations in 2008, but neither of these investigations resulted in any prosecutions.

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

The Government of Liberia's poverty reduction strategy, which was finalized in 2008, recognizes the links between household income and child labor; highlights the importance of protecting children from physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; and commits the Government to developing and launching a national youth employment action plan. The Government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission continues to investigate the individual and systematic use of child soldiers in Liberia from January 1979 to October 2003. The commission is authorized to recommend the amnesty or prosecution of individuals responsible for recruiting child soldiers. The Government also conducted awareness-raising campaigns against child labor, sexual abuse, and human trafficking.

The Government participated in a USDOL-funded USD 6 million Child Labor Education Initiative project in Sierra Leone and Liberia that was implemented by the International Rescue Committee. This 4-year project, which was launched in 2005, aimed to withdraw a total of 7,473 children and prevent a total of 22,417 children from exploitive child labor by improving access to and quality of education. The Government is also participating in a program with IOM to train immigration officials on how to identify human trafficking victims.

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