Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August 2014, 07:41 GMT

2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Djibouti

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 22 September 2005
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Djibouti, 22 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca51c.html [accessed 28 August 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 
Ratified Convention 182 
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Djibouti are unavailable.[1274] Although information is limited, reports indicate that children work in Djibouti.[1275] In rural areas, children perform unpaid labor on family farms. In urban areas, children often work in the informal sector in small-scale family businesses, trade, catering, crafts, or as domestic servants.[1276] Children displaced from Ethiopia and Somalia also seek work in the informal sector in Djibouti's cities, working as shoe polishers, car washers, khat[1277] sellers, street peddlers, money changers, beggars, and in commercial sexual exploitation.[1278] Commercial sexual exploitation of children is reportedly increasing, particularly among refugee street children in the capital city. A report by the Ministry of Youth and UNICEF found numerous girls between the ages of 8 and 17 years, many from Ethiopia, leaving work as domestic servants to become involved in commercial sex exploitation.[1279]

Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 16 years.[1280] Although education is free, the additional expenses of transportation, uniforms, and books often prevent poor families from sending their children to school.[1281] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 40.3 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 34.0 percent.[1282] Both gross and net enrollment rates are lower for girls than for boys.[1283] Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Recent primary school attendance statistics are not available for Djibouti. According to reports, primary school attendance is particularly low in rural areas.[1284] According to one estimate, approximately 65,000 school-aged children are currently not attending school in the country.[1285] As of 1998, 76.7 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.[1286]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.[1287] Night work is prohibited for children under the age of 16, and the hours and conditions of work for children are regulated.[1288] Forced and bonded labor of children is also prohibited.[1289] Djiboutian law prohibits prostitution.[1290] The Penal Code provides protection for children against many of the worst forms of child labor, such as the use of children for prostitution, pornography, and trafficking of drugs.[1291] The authority to enforce child labor laws and regulation rests with the Police Vice Squad "Brigade Des Moeurs" and the local Gendarmerie. The Labor Inspection Office has the authority to sanction businesses that employ children.[1292] However, according to the U.S. Department of State, the government has a shortage of labor inspectors and limited financial resources with which to enforce labor laws.[1293]

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

The Government of Djibouti is taking steps to increase awareness about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which includes provisions on child labor. It has broadcast radio and television programs on the rights of the child and the advancement and protection of girls in four languages (Afar, Somali, Arabic, and French).[1294] The government has also created a National Policy for Youth that focuses on children not in school. Under this policy, the government is encouraging community involvement and the use of Community Development Centers that host activities for out-of school children and serve as reading rooms for children in school.[1295] Every November 20th, on the Djiboutian Day of the Child, children's rights are discussed in schools and in the media, by NGOs, and children participate in shows and debates.[1296]

The World Bank supports several projects in Djibouti. The School Access and Improvement Project is funding the rehabilitation of classrooms for primary and middle schools, upgrading training materials, providing training, and improving government capacity to manage education reform.[1297] The Social Development and Public Works Project aims to enhance living standards in Djibouti by construction/rehabilitation of social infrastructures such as health posts and schools.[1298]


[1274] LABORSTAT, Djibouti: 1A-Total and economically active population by age group (Thousands), Geneva, [database online] 2004 [cited September 29, 2004]; available from http://laborsta.ilo.org. See also U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124, August 24, 2004.

[1275] U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1072, October 2002. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1993, CRC/C/8/Add.39, prepared by Government of Djibouti, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, February 1998, paras. 144-45; available from http://66.36.242.93/reports/djibouti_crc_c_8_add.39_1998.php.

[1276] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties, paras. 144-45.

[1277] "Khat" is a leaf that is chewed and its effect is as a stimulant. See Peter Kalix, Khat (Qat, Kat): Chewing Khat, World Health Organization, 1986; available from http://www.a1b2c3.com/drugs/khat2.htm. [cited September 29, 2004]

[1278] ILO, Review of Annual Reports Under the Follow-Up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, The Effective Abolition of Child Labour: Djibouti, GB.277/3/2, Geneva, March 2000, 270. See also U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124.

[1279] ECPAT International, Djibouti, in ECPAT International, [database online] [cited May 14, 2004]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Djibouti, CRC/C/15/Add.131, United Nations, Geneva, June 2000, para. 57; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/9af640001bbfa27180256900003612b6?Opendocument. See also U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1443, December 2002.

[1280] U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Djibouti, Washington D.C., March 11, 2004, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27724.htm.

[1281] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Djibouti, Section 5.

[1282] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004 [CD-ROM], Washington D.C., 2004.

[1283] In 2001, the gross primary enrollment rate was 34.8 percent for girls and 45.7 percent for boys. The net primary enrollment rate was 29.6 percent for girls and 38.3 percent for boys. See Ibid.

[1284] UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, Djibouti: Special report on girls' education, [online] [cited January 27, 2004]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=39139&SelectRegion=Horn_of_Africa&SelectCountry=DJIBOUTI.

[1285] U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124.

[1286] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2004.

[1287] See ILO, The Effective Abolition of Child Labour: Djibouti, 269. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Djibouti, Section 6d. See also U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124.

[1288] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties, paras. 24, 25.

[1289] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Djibouti, Section 6c.

[1290] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties, para.148. See also ECPAT International, Djibouti.

[1291] U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124.

[1292] The Office of the Labor Inspector currently has one inspector, who is responsible for supervising ten controllers. Ibid.

[1293] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2003: Djibouti. See also U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1072.

[1294] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 637th Meeting: Djibouti, CRC/C/SR.637, United Nations, Geneva, January 8, 2001; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/63755405aec3c40bc12569d60047821b?Opendocument.

[1295] U.S. Embassy-Djibouti, unclassified telegram no. 1124.

[1296] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 637th Meeting: Djibouti, para.22.

[1297] The project runs through June 2005. See World Bank, School Access and Improvement Project, [online] [cited March 11, 2004]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P044585.

[1298] The project runs through June 2006. See World Bank, Social Development and Public Works Project, in Projects Database, [database online] May 20, 2004 [cited May 20, 2004]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P044584.

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