Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Guinea-Bissau

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 - Guinea-Bissau, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa474c.html [accessed 13 July 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 Labor1524
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:64.2
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:64.4
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:64.0
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:Not Compulsory
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2001:70
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2001:45
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:37.3
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:No
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Guinea-Bissau primarily work in the informal sector.1525 In urban areas, many children work as street vendors.1526 Children also work as shoe shiners and car washers. Many serve as trade apprentices in workshops where they may perform hazardous work, such as that involving metallurgy, mechanics, or carpentry.1527 Some children, including orphans, live with other families as unpaid domestic servants.1528 In rural areas, children perform unpaid farming and cattle herding.1529 For four months each year, during the annual cashew harvest, some children are partially or completely withdrawn from school to work in the fields.1530

Girls are sometimes exploited as prostitutes in Guinea-Bissau, but the extent of this problem is unknown.1531 Children, primarily boys, are trafficked for begging and agricultural labor. Most come from the Bafata and Gabu regions and are trafficked to Senegal; some are sent to other locations such as Mali and Guinea.1532 The practice of sending boys to Koranic teachers to receive education is a tradition in various countries, including Guinea-Bissau; more recently children under this custom have been sent further away, including to foreign nations. While some boys receive lessons; many are forced to beg by their teachers for money and food. Each child must present to the teacher an established amount and are often subject to beaten if they fail to do so. Children may also be forced to shine shoes or perform agricultural work on teacher's plantations.1533 Children from neighboring Guinea are also trafficked to Guinea-Bissau and forced to work in exploitive conditions by Koranic teachers.1534

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for employment is set at 14 years. For heavy or dangerous labor, including work in mines, the minimum age is 18 years.1535 Working minors may not work overtime and must have fulfilled the compulsory education requirements, except in areas where no schools are available. Fines are established for violations of Labor Code provisions involving children.1536 However, the Code applies only to certain kinds of work that involve wage payments and does not apply to many types of work performed by children, such as domestic and agricultural work.1537

Forced child labor is prohibited.1538 Prostitution is illegal, as is the use of violence, threats, or other coercive actions to transport victims to foreign countries.1539 Laws against kidnapping and removal of minors, sexual exploitation, and abuse may be used to prosecute trafficking cases.1540 Kidnapping of children is punishable by 2 to10 years imprisonment.1541 To prevent trafficking, the law requires that persons traveling with children outside of the country submit their personal identification documents as well as the identification documents of the children's parents or of the children.1542 The compulsory recruitment age is 18 years; however, boys under 16 years may volunteer for the armed forces with the consent of their parents or tutors.1543

According to USDOS, although minimum age requirements are generally respected in the formal sector, these requirements were not enforced by the Ministries of Justice or Civil Service and Labor in the informal sector.1544 Child labor violations are not prosecuted in courts, as there is a general lack of awareness regarding relevant laws. Perpetrators often flee before court hearings and the families of many victims believe that they will incur related financial costs, although the Public Prosecution Service may provide a lawyer at no cost for those who cannot afford one.1545 The Ministry of Interior has an inspector responsible for crimes against children who coordinates law enforcement efforts on trafficking.1546 The Government does not actively investigate trafficking cases and there have been no trafficking prosecutions, but police have detained suspected traffickers and assisted victims. The Government, through local law enforcement, deter child trafficking by punishing parents who turn their children over to traffickers. Parents who allow their children to be trafficked are subject to imprisonment and the Government has sentenced one parent to jail.1547 USDOS reports that deference to religious teachers and lack of resources negatively affects the enforcement of laws regarding child trafficking.1548

Guinea-Bissau was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions.1549 As part of the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement, the governments agreed to use the child trafficking monitoring system developed by the USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC LUTRENA project to assist each other in the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of trafficking offenders; and to protect, rehabilitate, and reintegrate trafficking victims.1550

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

During the reporting period, the Government made efforts to repatriate over 60 children trafficked to Senegal.1551 The Government of Guinea-Bissau, including its embassy in Senegal, cooperates with Senegalese authorities, NGOs, and international organizations to repatriate trafficking victims from Senegal, provide them with assistance, and raise awareness about trafficking.1552 Ministry and local government officials, including police officials and judges, have participated in public anti-trafficking awareness efforts.1553 Such efforts have focused on Muslim communities that are often the source for trafficked children.1554 The Government also provides funding to a local NGO whose efforts include awareness raising, victim assistance, managing a shelter for trafficking victims, and establishing Koranic study in villages to discourage parents from sending children to study in cities.1555


1524 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 General Labor Inspectorate official, Interview with USDOL consultant, May 26, 2006, para 137. See also U.S. Department of State, "Guinea-Bissau," 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/2007/100486.htm. See also Ministry of Education official, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 14, 2006. See also Cooperation and Development official, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 12, 2006.

1525 General Labor Inspectorate official, Interview, May 26, 2006. See also Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture official, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 7, 2006. See also U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, September 28, 2007, para 4b.

1526 African Young Workers and Children Movement representative, Interview with USDOL consultant, May 24, 2006. See also Network of Young Educators official, Interview with USDOL consultant, May 25, 2006. See also Independent consultant on child labor, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 5, 2006.

1527 African Young Workers and Children Movement representative, Interview, May 24, 2006. See also Network of Young Educators official, Interview, May 25, 2006. See also Cooperation and Development official, Interview, June 12, 2006.

1528 African Young Workers and Children Movement representative, Interview, May 24, 2006. See also Cooperation and Development official, Interview, June 12, 2006.

1529 Independent consultant on child labor, Interview, June 5, 2006. See also Cooperation and Development official, Interview, June 12, 2006. See also Guinea-Bissau PLAN International official, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 13, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 6d.

1530 Association for Children's Rights official, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 6, 2006. See also Cooperation and Development official, Interview, June 12, 2006. See also Guinea-Bissau PLAN International official, Interview, June 13, 2006. See also Ministry of Education official, Interview, June 14, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 6d.

1531 General Labor Inspectorate official, Interview, May 26, 2006. See also Independent consultant on child labor, Interview, June 5, 2006. See also Association of Friends of Children official, Interview with USDOL consultant, June 6, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 5.

1532 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 27a. See also U.S. Department of State, "Guinea-Bissau (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "On the Child Trafficking Route", IRINnews.org, [online], November 23, 2007 [cited November 23, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=75485.

1533 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 28, 2007, para 27a. See also UNICEF, Under the Facade of Religious Study, Children Fall Victim to Trafficking, July 9, 2007; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/guineabissau_40282.html. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "Coming Home from the Street", IRINnews.org, [online], November 30, 2007 [cited December 2, 2007]; available from http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=75485. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "On the Child Trafficking Route". See also Peter Easton et al., Research Studies Series no. 8, International Working Group on Nonformal Education of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, May 1997; available from http://www.adeanet.org/wgnfe/publications/abel/abel2.html. See also Peter Easton, "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa," IK Notes no. 11 (August 1999), 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org/afr/ik/iknt11.pdf.

1534 Independent consultant on child labor, Interview, June 5, 2006. See also Cooperation and Development official, Interview, June 12, 2006. See also Guinea-Bissau PLAN International official, Interview, June 13, 2006.

1535 General Labor Inspectorate official, Interview, May 26, 2006. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 6d.

1536 General Labor Inspectorate official, Interview, May 26, 2006. See also ILO official, Interview with USDOL consultant, May 26, 2006.

1537 General Labor Inspectorate official, Interview, May 26, 2006. See also Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture official, Interview, June 7, 2006.

1538 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 6c.

1539 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 28, 2007, para 29a.

1540 Ibid.

1541 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 28b.

1542 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of State Parties due in 1992, prepared by Government of Guinea-Bissau, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, July 26, 2001, para 176; available from http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx?country=gw.

1543 Ibid., para 137. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Guinea-Bissau," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, January 26, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/library/global-reports?root_id=159&directory_id=165.

1544 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 6d.

1545 Network of Young Educators official, Interview, May 25, 2006. See also Child Guardianship official, Interview with USDOL consultant, May 30, 2006.

1546 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 30b.

1547 Ibid., para 28f and 28h. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Guinea-Bissau," section 5.

1548 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 29a. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Guinea Bissau."

1549 Catholic Relief Services official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, October 2, 2006. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), technical progress report, Washington, DC, September 1, 2006, 2.

1550 ECOWAS and ECCAS, Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central Africa, Abuja, July 7, 2006, 5-7. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labour Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), Technical progress Report, 10-11.

1551 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 27a.

1552 Ibid., para 27a, 27b and 29j. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Guinea Bissau."

1553 UNICEF, Under the Facade of Religious Study. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "On the Child Trafficking Route". See also U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 27e, 30b.

1554 U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 30b.

1555 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Guinea Bissau." See also U.S. Embassy – Dakar, reporting, February 21, 2008, para 29a, 29c, 30b.

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