Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Djibouti

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 27 August 2008
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Djibouti, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa46a3c.html [accessed 20 December 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 Labor991
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 (%), 2005:42
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:34
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:No
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In urban areas of Djibouti, children work in a variety of informal sector activities.992 Children perform jobs such as shining shoes, guarding and washing cars,993 cleaning storefronts, sorting merchandise, selling various items, and changing money.994 Children work day and night in family-owned businesses such as restaurants and small shops.995 Some children work as domestic servants and others are involved in begging.996 Children are also involved in the sale of drugs.997 Many working children are displaced from neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia, and some live on the streets.998 In rural areas, children work in agriculture and with livestock.999

Large numbers of voluntary economic migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia pass illegally through Djibouti en route to the Middle East; among this group, a small number of girls are trafficked for domestic service or commercial sexual exploitation. A small number of girls from impoverished Djiboutian families may also be exploited in prostitution as a means of income, in some instances under the auspices of traffickers.1000 There were credible reports of child prostitution on the streets and in brothels despite increased government efforts to stop it, including keeping children at risk off the streets and warning businesses against permitting children to enter bars and clubs.1001

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment and apprenticeships in Djibouti is 16 years.1002 Young persons 16 to 18 years may not be employed as domestic servants or in hotels and bars.1003 The law calls for the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Health to develop additional categories of work that are prohibited to young persons, but these have not yet been established.1004 Young persons must receive the same payment as adults for similar work. The Labor Inspector can require a medical exam to verify if the work is beyond the capabilities of the young person.1005 Penalties for non-compliance with the provisions regarding equal pay and medical exams are punishable by fines.1006 Night work is explicitly forbidden for individuals younger than 18 years, with penalties for non-compliance that include fines and, on the second infraction, 15 days of imprisonment.1007

The law prohibits forced and bonded labor.1008 The law also prohibits the procurement of prostitution, with punishments including a fine and up to 10 years of imprisonment when a minor is involved. Increased penalties also apply if coercion is used or in cases involving the trafficking of persons outside or into the country.1009 The law also provides for penalties against the use of children in pornography and in the trafficking of drugs.1010 Djibouti does not have compulsory military service. The Government of Djibouti stated in a 1998 report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that "as is the case for all civilian and military jobs, young people under 18 may not be accepted into the army." The Government has a voluntary national services program for persons ages 17 to 25 that includes 3 months of military training, but there were no reports of any people under 18 in the armed forces.1011

In late December, the President of Djibouti signed into law a comprehensive anti-trafficking in persons law, emphasizing preventative efforts as well as protection for victims. This new law stipulates that persons convicted of trafficking may receive a fine and up to 30 years in prison.

The authority to enforce child labor laws and regulations rests with the Police Vice Squad (Brigade des Moeurs) and the local police department (Gendarmerie).1012 The Brigade des Moeurs has reportedly closed bars where child prostitution may be occurring.1013 The Labor Inspection Office has the authority to sanction businesses that employ children.1014 As of April 2006, the labor inspection office had one inspector and six controllers.1015 According to USDOS, this shortage of inspectors limits the Government's ability to enforce labor laws.1016

In 2007, the Brigade des Moeurs recaptured and convicted a foreign national who had fled the country while awaiting trial for sexually exploiting two boys and is now in prison. An investigation concerning a child sexual exploitation network, stemming from the 1990s, was also initiated during 2007 and is ongoing.1017

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

In March 2007, the Government of Djibouti's Ministry of Communication initiated its first antitrafficking public awareness campaign, specifically citing child prostitution.1018 This campaign also included coverage of a Government debate in October 2007 regarding the recently enacted anti-trafficking law.1019 Moreover, the President of Djibouti and his wife hosted a public education event that highlighted putting an end to child trafficking.1020


991 For statistical data not cited here, see the Data Sources and Definitions section. For data on ratifications and ILO-IPEC membership, see the Executive Summary. For minimum age for admission to work, age to which education is compulsory, and free public education, see Government of Djibouti, Loi n°133/AN/05/5ème L portant Code du Travail, (January 28, 2006), article 5; available from http://www.uddesc.org/Chartes,%20Conventions,%20Constitutions,%20D%E9clarations,%20Lois,%20Trait%E9s, %20etc/nationales/Code%20du%20Travail%20de%2028%20janvier%202006.pdf. See also Government of Djibouti, Loi n°96/AN/00/4ème L portant Orientation du Système Educatif Djiboutien, (July 10, 2000), articles 14, 16. See also U.S. Department of State, "Djibouti," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007, Washington, DC, March 11, 2008, section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100478.htm.

992 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, August 17, 2005.

993 Ibid.

994 Ministry of Employment and National Solidarity official, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 11, 2006, Ministry of Labor official, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 11, 2006.

995 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Djibouti," section 6d.

996 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, August 17, 2005.

997 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Djibouti," section 6d. See also Directorate of Promotion of Women and Social Affairs official, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 16, 2006. See also Open Door Association official, Interview with USDOL consultant, August 9, 2006.

998 Ministry of Employment and National Solidarity official, interview, July 11, 2006.

999 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, August 17, 2005.

1000 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, July 21, 2008.

1001 Ibid.

1002 Government of Djibouti, Loi n°133/AN/05/5ème L, articles 5, 71.

1003 Ibid., articles 110, 111.

1004 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, January 23, 2007.

1005 Government of Djibouti, Loi n°133/AN/05/5ème L, articles 109, 112.

1006 Ibid., article 288.

1007 Ibid., articles 94, 289.

1008 Ibid., article 2.

1009 The Protection Project, 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2005; available from http://www.protectionproject.org.

1010 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, August 24, 2004.

1011 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti official, E-mail communication, July 21, 2008.

1012 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, August 24, 2004.

1013 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Djibouti (Tier 2 Watch List)."

1014 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, August 24, 2004.

1015 U.S. Department of State, "Djibouti (Tier 2 Watch List)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65988.htm.

1016 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Djibouti," section 6d.

1017 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti official, E-mail communication, July 21, 2008.

1018 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Djibouti (Tier 2 Watch List)."

1019 U.S. Embassy – Djibouti, reporting, February 28, 2008, para. 3g.

1020 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Djibouti (Tier 2 Watch List)."

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