Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 07:47 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Belize

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Belize, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7492244.html [accessed 23 September 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 Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2001:6.3%384
Minimum age for admission to work:12/14/16385
Age to which education is compulsory:14386
Free public education:Yes387*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:124%388
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:95%389
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2001:93.2%390
As of 2000, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:91%391
Ratified Convention 138:3/6/2000392
Ratified Convention 182:3/6/2000393
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes, associated394
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2001, approximately 8.1 percent of boys and 4.6 percent of girls ages 5 to 14 years were working in Belize.395 The majority of working children are found in the agricultural sector (55.3 percent), followed by services (38.8 percent), and manufacturing (3.6 percent).396

Most working children are found in rural regions,397 where they work on family plots and in family businesses after school, on weekends, and during vacations.398 They also work in citrus, banana, and sugar fields.399 In urban areas, children shine shoes, sell food, crafts, and other small items; they also work in markets.400 The practice of minors engaging in prostitution with older men in exchange for clothing, jewelry, or school fees and books is reported to occur throughout the country.401

Belize is a transit and destination country for children trafficked for labor exploitation.402 Girls in particular are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation.403 There have been reports of instances where child sexual exploitation and trafficking are arranged by family members.404

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Act of Belize sets the minimum age for work as 12, 14, and 16 years in different sections of the text; thus, it has been criticized as being unclear.405 According to the Labor Act, children 12 to 14 years may participate only in light work after school hours and for a total of 2 hours on a school day or a Sunday, and only between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.406 The minimum age for employment near hazardous machinery is 17 years.407 The Labor Act sets penalties for noncompliance with minimum age standards that include fines and imprisonment up to 2 months, and up to 4 months in the case of a second or subsequent offense.408

The law prohibits persons under 18 years from engaging in any forms of harmful employment.409 Forced and bonded labor are prohibited.410 Although there is no law establishing a minimum age for conscription into the military, the minimum age for voluntary enrollment is 18 years.411 The law punishes trafficking offenses with imprisonment of up to 5 years and fines.412 The law also prohibits sex with a female younger than 14 years and provides for a penalty of 12 years to life imprisonment. The sentence for the same act with a girl 14 to 16 years is 5 to 10 years.413

Inspectors from the Departments of Labor and Education are responsible for enforcing child labor regulations.414 The Department of Human Services of the Ministry of Human Development and Housing is responsible for the protection of child labor victims.415 The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Committee has linked a number of government agencies to fight trafficking, including the police; public prosecutors; the Department of Immigration; the Ministries of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Human Development; the National Committee for Families and Children; and the Government's Press Office. A tripartite team of police, immigration, and social workers from the Ministry of Human Development conducted raids in 2006, identifying seven trafficking victims.416

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

The National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) provides nationwide training programs for front line police and immigration officials on trafficking.417 With funds from the IDB and in collaboration with UNICEF, the Ministry of Human Development is engaging in a program to strengthen the government's capacity to combat human trafficking.418

The Government of Belize continues to participate in a USD 8.8 million regional project funded by USDOL and implemented by ILO-IPEC aimed at combating commercial sexual exploitation of children.419 The project aims to withdraw 713 children and prevent 657 children from commercial sexual exploitation in the region.420


384 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

385 Government of Belize, Labour Act (Revised), (December 31, 2000); available from http://www.belizelaw.org/lawadmin/index2.html. Chapter 297, Sections 1, 2, 164, and 169. See also SIMPOC and the Central Statistical Office of the Government of Belize, Child Labour in Belize: A Qualitative Study, ILO, February 2003; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/belize/report/be_qual.pdf.

386 Government of Belize, Education Act, Chapter 36, (Revised Edition 2000); available from http://www.belizelaw.org/lawadmin/PDF%20files/cap036.pdf.

387 U.S. Department of State, "Belize," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78880.htm. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations: Belize, March 31, 2005, para 60; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/15d955c522246114c125702100421174/$FILE/G0540865.pdf.

388 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrollment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

389 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rates. Primary. , December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

390 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

391 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org.

392 ILO, Ratifications by Country, [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgilex/ratifce.pl?Belize.

393 Ibid.

394 ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] 2001 [cited March 7, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm.

395 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

396 UNICEF MICS UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, March 1, 2007.

397 Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labor (SIMPOC) and the Central Statistical Office of the Government of Belize, Child Labour in Belize: A Statistical Report, ILO, 2003, xix; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/belize/report/be_natl.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC SIMPOC, Child Labour and Education in Belize: A Situational Assessment and In-depth Analysis, ILO, June 2003, ix; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/belize/report/be_depth.pdf.

398 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Belize," Section 6d.

399 Ibid.

400 Ibid.

401 Ibid., Section 5.

402 U.S. Embassy – Belmopan, Reporting, March 2, 2007.

403 U.S. Department of State, "Belize (Tier 3 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, D.C., June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65988.htm.

404 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Belize." See also, U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Belize."

405 Labour Act (Revised). Chapter 297, Sections 1, 164, and 169. See also, SIMPOC and the Central Statistical Office of the Government of Belize, Child Labour in Belize: A Qualitative Study., 11. See also, U.S. Embassy – Belmopan, reporting, December 22, 2006.

406 Labour Act (Revised)., Section 169.

407 U.S. Department of State, "Belize," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61716.htm.

408 Labour Act (Revised), Section 172(1).

409 Government of Belize, Families and Children Act, Revised Edition (December 31, 2000), Part I, Articles 2(1) and 7; available from http://www.belizelaw.org/lawadmin/PDF%20files/cap173.pdf.

410 Constitution of Belize; available from http://www.georgetown.edu/LatAmerPolitical/Constitutions/Belize/belize.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Belize," Section 6c.

411 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Belize," in Global Report 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=810.

412 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Belize." Section 5.

413 Criminal Code, Chapter 101, (Amended May 31, 2003); available from http://www.belizelaw.org/lawadmin/index2.html.

414 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Belize," Section 6d.

415 Belize Labour Commissioner, Electronic communication to USDOL official, August 26, 2005.

416 U.S. Embassy – Belmopan, U.S. Embassy -Reporting, March 2, 2007.

417 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Belize," Section 5.

418 Inter-American Development Bank, Projects, [cited September 25, 2006]; available from http://www.iadb.org/projects/Project.cfm?project=BL-T1004$Language=English.

419 ILO-IPEC, Contribution to the Prevention and Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, project document, RLA/02/P51/USA, 2002, 2005.

420 Ibid.

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