Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Djibouti

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 - Djibouti, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 27 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, 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 (%), 2006:
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:37.8
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2005:89.9
ILO Convention 138:6/14/2005
ILO Convention 182:2/28/2005
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In urban areas of Djibouti, children work largely in informal sector activities, including washing cars, polishing shoes, changing money, sorting merchandise, and vending items. Children also work in family-owned businesses, wash dishes and clean in restaurants, guard vehicles, and carry goods for store patrons. Children are also involved in begging. Some children participate in the sale of drugs, including the legal drug khat. Children in rural areas mostly care for livestock.

Children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service in Djibouti. In some cases, refugees and girls from poor Djiboutian families may be trafficked into prostitution to earn money. USDOS reports that Somali children are trafficked to Djibouti for commercial sexual exploitation and exploitive labor. Some children living on the streets become involved in prostitution. In addition, a small number of girls from Somalia and Ethiopia, traveling through Djibouti en route to the Middle East for economic reasons are trafficked into domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation in the country.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment and apprenticeships in Djibouti is 16 years. Young people 16 to 18 years may not be employed or have apprenticeships as domestics or work in hotels, bars, or pubs, with the exception of work related to catering. The Ministries of Labor and Health also set the types of work prohibited by young people and inspectors can require a medical exam to verify if work is beyond a young person's capabilities. Penalties for noncompliance with legal provisions requiring medical exams and prohibiting any wage deductions for young people and wage deductions of no more than 25 percent for apprentices are punishable by fines. Unless the National Council of Work, Labor, and Vocational Training makes exceptions, young people must have a minimum of 12 consecutive hours of rest and are forbidden from night work with penalties for noncompliance that include fines and, on the second infraction, 15 days of imprisonment.

The law prohibits forced labor. The procurement of prostitution of a minor is punishable by 10 years imprisonment and a fine. The law also provides for penalties against the use of a minor in pornography, punishable by 1 year in prison and fines, increasing to 3 years in prison and higher fines for minors 15 years and under. There is no compulsory military service in Djibouti, and the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 18. Unskilled youth 17 years of age can take part in the Government's voluntary national service program, which provides professional training, including training with the Djiboutian armed forces. Military instruction cannot make up more than 30 percent of the training provided and there is no expectation that participants will remain with the armed forces.

The law also prohibits internal and cross-border trafficking, including trafficking of persons under 18 years. Penalties include imprisonment of up to 30 years and fines.

The Police Vice Squad (Brigade des Moeurs) and the local police department (Gendarmerie) have the authority to enforce child labor laws and regulations, and according to USDOS, the Brigade des Moeurs has reportedly closed bars where child prostitution occurred and conducted regular sweeps of the city of Djibouti at night. The police also worked with hospitals to provide services to victims of child prostitution.

The Labor Inspectorate can sanction businesses that employ children. According to USDOS, the Labor Inspectorate had three inspectors and six controllers; however, it did not have the resources to conduct child labor inspections in 2008.

Current Government Efforts to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Djibouti continues to participate in the 2-year, USD 460,000 regional anti-trafficking technical assistance project implemented by the UNODC's Regional Office for Eastern Africa and funded by Norway and Sweden. The project aims to bolster coordination among the 11 EAPCCO countries through the Regional Action Plan to Prevent and Combat Human Trafficking in Eastern Africa, and harmonize national legislation with the Palermo Protocol.

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