Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Central African Republic

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 August 2006
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Central African Republic, 29 August 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748e2a.html [accessed 24 April 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 Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138     6/28/2000
Ratified Convention 182     6/28/2000
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

An estimated 61.1 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were counted as working in the Central African Republic in 2000. Approximately 60.4 percent of all boys 5 to 14 were working compared to 61.7 percent of girls in the same age group.972 UNICEF reports that 53 percent of children are engaged in work in urban areas and 71 percent of children are engaged in work in rural areas.973 Although children work in many sectors of the economy, most children work in agriculture.974 Some children work on farms at school. Such work is reportedly considered to prepare children for agricultural work as adults. The proceeds earned on the farms are used for school supplies and activities.975 Children also reportedly work alongside adult relatives in diamond fields.976 In the capital city of Bangui, the number of street children, many of whom are orphaned by HIV/AIDS, is estimated at more than 2,500.977 Such children are vulnerable to early entrance into work. Street children are engaged in various economic activities including grinding, nuts, selling small items, washing dishes in small eateries, and begging.978 Children from some indigenous groups are forced into agricultural, domestic and other forms of labor by other ethnic groups in the country.979

Reports indicate that children fought for both pro-government and rebel forces during the March 2003 coup.980 Child soldiers were also used by armed groups from neighboring countries operating in the Central African Republic until early 2003.981 The security situation in the country was generally stable during 2005, and there were no reports of children involved in armed conflict during the year.982 Children in the Central African Republic are also involved in prostitution.983

Children are trafficked to the Central African Republic generally from Chad, Nigeria and Sudan for work in domestic services, small shops, and agriculture.984 Traveling merchants, herders, and other foreigners working in and transiting through the country sometimes brought boys and girls with them. Such children did not attend school and were not paid for their work. There are some reports that children are trafficked from the Central African Republic to Nigeria and other nearby nations for work in agriculture.985

Education in public institutions is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 16.986 However, truancy is rarely punished.987 In September 2004, the government signed a decree setting fixed fees for public primary education at 600 francs CFA (USD 1) and secondary education at 1500 francs CFA (USD 2.77).988 These fees are a one-time-only expense and apply to all of the children in a family who attend the same school.989 The government hopes that fixed education fees will increase primary school enrollment.990

In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 66 percent.991 Gross enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2000, 38.5 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years were attending school.992 The net primary attendance rate for children living in urban areas in 2000 was almost double the rate for children living in rural areas.993 Many reports indicate that male teachers from the primary to the university levels pressure female students into sex in exchange for good grades.994

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Article 125 of the Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.995 However, children who are at least 12 years of age may engage in light work.996 Children under 18 years are forbidden to perform certain kinds of work, including work in mines and work that involves carrying heavy loads, or work at night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.997 Article 153 of the Mining Code prohibits a company or parent from using children in mining. Violators are subject to a fine of 100,000 to 3,000,000 francs CFA (USD 185 to USD 5,551.65) and/or imprisonment of 6 months to 3 years.998 Forced labor was prohibited under the former Constitution; it is unclear whether this provision is included in the new Constitution approved by referendum in December 2004.999 The minimum age for enlisting in the armed forces is 18 years.1000 In November 2004, the government issued a special Constitutional bill adopting a series of articles which seek to improve basic social services, including education and the protection of women and children.1001 Since 1999, the Government of the Central African Republic has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.1002

The Penal Code prohibits the procurement of individuals for sexual purposes, including assisting in or profiting from prostitution, with penalties that include imprisonment of 1 month and a day to 1 year and/or a fine of 100,000 to 1,000,000 francs CFA (USD 185 to USD 1,850). Those found guilty of engaging in such acts with minors, which the code defines as persons less than 15 years of age, face penalties of imprisonment from 1 to 5 years and a fine of 200,000 to 2,000,000 francs CFA (USD 370.11 to USD 3,701.10). The Penal Code also establishes penalties including imprisonment from 2 to 5 years and 100,000 to 800,000 francs CFA (USD 185 to USD 1,480.44) if a school official commits a sex offense involving a female student.1003

The labor law does not specifically prohibit trafficking.1004 However, traffickers can be prosecuted under anti-slavery laws, mandatory school-age laws, the prostitution provisions of the Penal Code, and the Labor Code.1005 In addition, Article 212 of the Penal Code established a penalty of imprisonment from 5 to 10 years for any person who abducts or causes the abduction of a child younger than 15 years of age.1006 Revised text of the Penal Code on child trafficking was submitted to the Ministry of Justice in January 2003, but it has not yet been approved.1007

The U.S. Department of State reported that enforcement of child labor laws occurs infrequently, and the government lacks sufficient resources for enforcement.1008 Community brigades have been established to punish persons responsible for forcing children into prostitution. However, few cases have been prosecuted due to the reluctance of victims' families to press charges.1009 The government does not currently investigate trafficking cases.1010

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

The government issued a decree at the end of 2004 authorizing the establishment of a national committee on orphans and other vulnerable children and established a variety of programs with the assistance of international donor institutions in an attempt to rehabilitate the social services in the country, including education.1011 The government acknowledges the incidence of child labor in the country and is seeking to raise awareness about this issue.1012 The government has also established a plan to combat trafficking by creating a mobile border unit to regulate the entry and exit of children.1013

The government has committed to improving the crippled educational system and specifically focusing on educating girls.1014 The government endorsed the country's National Plan of Action for Education in April 2004, which runs until 2015 and is intended to achieve the following goals: protection and education of pre-school-aged children; universal basic education; the availability of relevant training for youth and adults; increased literacy; a reduction in the disparity between boys and girls' participation in education; improved educational quality; and widespread citizen education on HIV/AIDS.1015 Additionally, the government has issued a National Education Plan, funded by UNICEF, targeting the education of girls.1016

The World Bank provided assistance in the educational sector, including refurbishment of schools, provision of supplies such as textbooks, training for teacher and institutional management.1017 The IMF approved a package of aid programs for the country, which includes financing for education, including salaries for teachers.1018 UNICEF continues to support a non-formal community schools program that is intended to promote girls' education as well as distribute supplies to students and teachers.1019 UNICEF also has an action plan to provide care to AIDS orphans, who are often compelled to begin working at an early age.1020

UNICEF continued to provide access to water, sanitation, and school meals in the country's education system.1021 The UNDP, UNICEF, and the Office of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children within the Ministry of Labor have proposed a 4-year project aimed at providing a better environment for orphans and children affected by HIV/AIDS. The project targets approximately 5 percent of the estimated 110,000 HIV/AIDS orphans in the country to receive medical, nutritional and economic support in the hopes that the number of street children will decrease.1022


972 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, "Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates," (October 7, 2005). Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the section in the front of the report titled "Data Sources and Definitions."

973 UNICEF, L'enfant en Centrafrique, Famille, Sante, Scolarite, Travail, July, 2004.

974 Government of the Central African Republic, Enquête a Indicateurs Multiples en République Centrafricaine (MICS): Rapport Préliminaire, UNICEF, Bangui, December 2000; available from http://www4.worldbank.org/afr/poverty/pdf/docnav/03307.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Central African Republic, Washington, D.C., February 28, 2005, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41594.htm.

975 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

976 Ibid.

977 Government of the Central African Republic, Analyse Causale des Problemes de protection des Enfants de la Rue en Centrafrique, Ministry of Family and Social Affairs, Bangui, April 2004.

978 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic.

979 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

980 In the weeks preceding the 2003 coup, for example, many street children were enrolled in security forces to repel the rebellion. See UN Commission on Civil and Political Rights, List of issues prepared in the absence of the second periodic report of the State party, due on 9 April 1989, September 3, 2003; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/880cc0a9e81c0a75c1256da90022b550?Opendocument. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic.

981 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 – Central African Republic, 2004; available from www.child-soldiers.org/regions/country.html?id=41.

982 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

983 Ibid. See also UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 658th Meeting: Central African Republic, February 14, 2001 [cited May 20, 2005]; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/7c0595bc56c343b5c12569f500598d21?Opendocument.

984 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

985 Ibid.

986 Journal Officiel de la Republique Centrafricaine: Projet de Constitution, (October 21). See also Portent Orientation de l'Education, 97/014, (December 10, 1997).

987 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

988 OANDA Customizable Currency Converter, oanda.com, [online] [cited June 6, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic. See also Government of the Central African Republic, Decision No 190, Ministry of Education, Bangui, September 4, 2004. See also interview with Jonas Guezewan-Piki, Direction of National Education, April 28, 2005.

989 Government of the Central African Republic, Decision No 190.

990 Mary Gutmann, TDA In-Country Data Collection for Central African Republic, May 31, 2005.

991 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrollment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005).

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

993 Government of the Central African Republic, Enquête a Indicateurs Multiples en République Centrafricaine, 10-11.

994 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

995 Instituant le Code du Travail de la Republique Centrafricaine, 61/221, (June 2, 1961). See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

996 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1994: Central African Republic, November 18, 1998; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/fb066e7732d518c0802567a6003b7aad?Opendocument. Children may work in traditional agriculture or home services starting at age 12. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

997 NATLEX, Central African Republic: Elimination of child labour, protection of children and young persons, in NATLEX, [database online] [cited May 20, 2005]; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.details. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1994, para. 62.

998 Le Code Minier, (February 1, 2004).

999 U.S. Department of State, Background Notes: Central African Republic, Washington, D.C., February 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/4007.htm. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "New Constitution Adopted, 15 to Vie for Presidency", IRINnews.org, [online], December 20, 2004 [cited May 26, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=44736.

1000 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1994, para. 61.

1001 Journal Officiel de la Republique Centrafricaine: Projet de Constitution.

1002 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

1003 This section of the Penal Code was amended in 1964. Code Penal de la Republique Centrafricaine, (2000), Articles 196-214. The ILO's Committee of Experts has raised questions about what provisions in the country's law protect children under 18 from prostitution. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial reports of States parties due in 1994. See also CEACR, Direct request, Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Central African Republic (ratification: 2000), ILO, Geneva, 2004, Clause (b)1; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org.

1004 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

1005 CEACR, Direct request.

1006 Code Penal de la Republique Centrafricaine, Article 212.

1007 Amnesty International, Central African Republic: Five Months of War Against Women, London, November 10, 2004.

1008 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 6d.

1009 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 658th Meeting, Section 28.

1010 Ibid., Section 6f. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic, Section 5.

1011 Government of the Central African Republic, Decree no 018/MFASSN/CAB/SG/DGAS 04, Ministry of Family and Social Affairs, November 2004, Article 6.

1012 Government of the Central African Republic, Note a l'attention du Ministre a l'occasion de la celebration de la journee mondiale du travail des enfants pour l'annee 2005, Ministry of Labor, Bangui, May 30, 2005.

1013 Interview with Jean Pierre Sapoua, Labor Inspector and Social Laws, Director of Studies and External Relationships, May 12, 2005.

1014 Government of the Central African Republic, Plan d'Action 2005: Programme Scolarisation des Filles, Ministry of Family and Social Affairs, Bangui, 2005.

1015 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Central African Republic. See also Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research, Plan National d'Action de l'Education Pour Tous 2003-2015: République Centrafricaine, Bangui, July 21, 2003; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=20942&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "National Education Plan Endorsed", IRINnews.org, [online], April 26, 2004 [cited May 20, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=40758.

1016 Government of the Central African Republic, Plan d'Action 2005: Programme Scolarisation des Filles.

1017 World Bank, Country Re-engagement Note for the Central African Republic, July 14, 2004, 12, para. 37; available from http://www wds.worldbank.org.

1018 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Government gets post-conflict aid of US $8.5 million", July 27, 2004 [cited May 20, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=42393&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes&SelectCountry=CENTRAL_AFRICAN_REP UBLIC.

1019 Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Education Sector Gets a Boost from UNICEF", [online], October 3, 2003 [cited May 20, 2005]; available from www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=36942. See also UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 658th Meeting.

1020 For a discussion of HIV/AIDS and its relationship to child labor, see UNICEF, At a Glance: Central African Republic, [online] [cited May 20, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/car.html.

1021 UNICEF, Central African Republic: Donor Update, July 16, 2004 [cited May 20, 2005]. See also UNICEF, At a glance: Central African Republic. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "WFP in Awareness Raising Campaign for School Feeding Programme", IRINnews.org, [online], January 29, 2004 [cited May 20, 2005]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=39197.

1022 UNDP, Programme du Gouvernement de la Republique Centrafricaine, Bangui, January 2005.

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