Last Updated: Monday, 22 December 2014, 14:34 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Haiti

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 - Haiti, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa47528.html [accessed 22 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 Labor1576
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2005:29
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2005:32.2
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2005:26
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:11
Free public education:Yes *
Gross primary enrollment rate (%):
Net primary enrollment rate (%):
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:81.2
Survival rate to grade 5 (%):
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Haiti work on family farms and in the informal sector, such as street vending. In general, because of high unemployment and job competition, few children work in the industrial sector or on commercial farms.1577

The most common form of work for children in Haiti is domestic service.1578 The practice of sending children, particularly girls, from poor rural areas to work as domestic servants for relatively richer families is common. While some of these children, referred to as "restaveks," are cared for and receive an education, many are victims of trafficking. Such children receive no schooling; are sexually exploited and physically abused; and are unpaid, undocumented, and unprotected.1579 It is estimated that up to 300,000 children work under the restavek system in Haiti.1580 A requirement to pay a salary to domestic workers of 15 years and older encourages employers to dismiss the restaveks before they reach that age, which in turn contributes to a large population of street children in Haiti.1581 Many children who live on the streets in Haiti are former domestic servants. Children on the streets work as vendors, beggars, and also in prostitution.1582

In addition to internal trafficking, children are also trafficked from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.1583 An IOM/UNICEF study in 2002 found that more than 2,000 Haitian children are victims of such trafficking each year.1584 Haitian children trafficked to the Dominican Republic work in domestic service, agriculture, and construction, and they often live in miserable conditions.1585 There have been conflicting reports as to whether the transport of undocumented Haitians for work on Dominican sugarcane plantations has lessened.1586 Girls are also trafficked from the Dominican Republic to Haiti for commercial sexual exploitation.1587 In 2003, ILOIPEC published a rapid assessment on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Haiti, which found that the majority of the child commercial sex workers surveyed were street children in the age range of 13 to 17 years, with some as young as 9 and 10 years old.1588

Haiti continues to experience a lack of public safety.1589 Children are involved with armed groups in the country; they work as porters, spies, messengers, and combatants.1590

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for work in industrial, agricultural, or commercial enterprises in Haiti is 15 years, while the minimum age for domestic service is 12 years.1591 However, there are no legal penalties for employing children in domestic labor as restaveks.1592 The minimum age for work as an apprentice is 14 and a medical exam of the child is required.1593 Minors ages 15 to 18 years old must obtain a work authorization from the Ministry of Labor. Employing a child without a work authorization is punishable by fines.1594 Children less than 18 years of age are prohibited from night work in industrial jobs, and minors (of undefined age) are prohibited from hazardous work.1595

The law prohibits the forced labor of adults and children.1596 The law also prohibits the corruption of youth below the age of 21, including by prostitution, with penalties ranging from 6 months to 3 years imprisonment.1597 Child trafficking is illegal, as is recruiting children for sexual exploitation, pornography, and illicit activities.1598 There are no penalties for trafficking, although there are laws prohibiting and penalizing slavery and kidnapping.1599 The law obligates Haitians over the age of 18 to perform military service, but the military forces have been disbanded by presidential order.1600

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, through the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), is responsible for enforcing child labor laws.1601 IBESR often takes the lead on anti-child trafficking efforts.1602 The Haitian National Police's Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) is responsible for investigating crimes against children, which include trafficking. The BPM monitors the movement of children crossing into the Dominican Republic.1603 However, due to a lack of regulations and penalties, the BPM does not investigate restavek cases.1604 In August 2007, authorities working with two NGOs released 47 children from a fake orphanage. Nonetheless, USDOS reports that a lack of resources, training, and established procedures hamper the work of the BPM.1605 According to USDOS, an absence of governmental institutions, the lack of capacity to adequately monitor borders, and the lack of a well-trained and equipped national police force have inhibited the Government from effectively addressing child trafficking.1606

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

The Ministry of Social Affairs provides minimal assistance to street children. The Government refers victims of trafficking to NGOs and social welfare agencies that provide return and reintegration services. The Government also provides a small sum to repatriated persons, who may be victims of trafficking, to aid in their return to their communities of origin.1607 The Government of Haiti participated in a USD 400,000 regional project that ended in June 2007 to eradicate the worst forms of child labor, funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by ILO-IPEC.1608 The Government is also participating in a USD 1 million project funded by USAID and implemented by the Pan American Development Foundation to strengthen legislation and law enforcement associated with trafficking.1609


1576 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 Haiti, Code du travail, (1984), article 335; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/135/64790/F61HTI01.htm. See also UNESCO, Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006: Literacy for Life, Paris, 2005, 306; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=43283&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html. See also Government of Haiti, Constitution de la République d'Haiti, (1987), article 32; available from http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Haiti/haiti1987fr.html. See also U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," 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/2007/100643.htm.

1577 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 6d.

1578 ILO-IPEC, "Haiti escenario de moderna esclavitud," Boletín Encuentros (August 2005); available from http://www.oit.or.cr/ipec/encuentros/noticia.php?notCodigo=469. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 6d.

1579 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Trafficking in Persons Report-2007, Washington, DC, June 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/86204.htm. See also ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (articles 19, 22 and 35 of the Constitution), Third Item on the Agenda: Information and Reports on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, ILO Conference, 92nd session, Geneva, 2005; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/pdconv.pl?host=status01&textbase=iloeng&document=7698&chapter=6&query=%28C029%29+%40ref+%2B+ %28Haiti%29+%40ref&highlight=&querytype=bool&context=0. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims of Human Trafficking in Haiti, [online] December 4, 2006 [cited December 15, 2007]; available from http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/featureArticleAM/cache/offonce?entryId=12185. See also ILO, "Hope for Haiti's restavecs: South-South cooperation against child labour," Relief Web (2008); available from http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-7BJN9W?OpenDocument.

1580 The Protection Project, "Haiti," in 2007 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2007; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/haiti.doc. See also ILO, "Hope for Haiti's restavecs: South-South cooperation against child labour." See also ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts.

1581 ILO, Report of the Committee of Experts. See also Government of Haiti, Code du travail, article 350.

1582 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," sections 5 and 6d.

1583 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti." See also The Protection Project, "Haiti," in 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2005; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/haiti.doc.

1584 UNICEF, At a Glance: Haiti: Background, [online] [cited December 15, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/haiti.html. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims.

1585 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti." See also U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic (Tier 2 Watch)," in Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, DC, June 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/82805.htm. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims.

1586 U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," 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/2007/100637.htm. See also IOM, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims. See also U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti."

1587 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti."

1588 ILO-IPEC, Etude exploratoire sur l'exploitation sexuelle des mineurs à des fins commerciales, Port-au-Prince, 2003, 50, 52. See also Ministry of the Feminine Condition and Women's Rights official, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 14, 2006.

1589 U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78895.htm. See also UNICEF, At a Glance: Haiti: Background. See also Louis Joinet, Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, UN Economic and Social Council, January 24, 2006, 2.

1590 UNICEF, At a Glance: Haiti: Background. See also Child Protection Unit official, UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 25, 2006.

1591 Government of Haiti, Code du travail, articles 335 and 341.

1592 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 6d.

1593 Government of Haiti, Code du travail, article 73.

1594 Ibid., articles 337 and 340.

1595 Ibid., articles 333 and 334.

1596 Ibid., article 4. See also Government of Haiti, Loi relative à l'interdiction et à l'élimination de toutes formes d'abus, de violences, de mauvais traitements ou traitements inhumains contre les enfants, (June 5, 2003), article 2.

1597 Government of Haiti, Código penal de Haiti, article 282; available from http://www.unifr.ch/ddp1/derechopenal/legislacion/ht/cp_haiti.htm.

1598 Government of Haiti, Loi relative a l'interdiction et a l'elimination de toutes formes d'abus, article 2.

1599 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 5.

1600 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Haiti," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=829.

1601 Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor official, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 17, 2006. See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, February 28, 2008.

1602 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, February 28, 2008.

1603 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 5.

1604 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, February 28, 2008.

1605 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Haiti," section 5.

1606 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti." See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, February 28, 2008.

1607 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Haiti." See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

1608 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, December 12, 2007.

1609 U.S. Department of State, U.S. Government Funds Obligated for Anti-Trafficking in Persons Projects, Fiscal Year 2007, accessed March 11, 2008; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/rpt/101295.htm.

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