Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Haiti

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 31 August 2007
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Haiti, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d74939c.html [accessed 23 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 Labor
Percent of children ages 5-14 estimated as working:Unavailable
Minimum age of work:151979
Age to which education is compulsory:111980
Free public education:Yes1981*
Gross primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Net primary enrollment rate:Unavailable
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:Unavailable
Percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:Unavailable
Ratified Convention 138:No1982
Ratified Convention 182:No1983
ILO-IPEC Participating Country:Yes1984
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Haiti work on family farms and in the informal sector. Children also engage in street vending. In general, because of high unemployment and job competition, there is very little child labor in the industrial sector and on commercial farms.1985 Past reports indicate that Haitian children have worked on sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic. Some recent reports indicate that the practice of transporting Haitians to harvest sugarcane in the Dominican Republic has been largely curtailed.1986

The most common form of work for children in Haiti is domestic service.1987 The practice of sending children, particularly girls, from poor rural areas to work as domestic servants for relatively richer families is a common traditional custom. 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 work under conditions of forced labor.1988 Many children who live on the streets in Haiti are former domestic servants.1989 Boys are also victims of trafficking under the restavek practice, in which they are sent to stay with better-off families and find themselves forced to work in agriculture.1990 Save the Children and UNICEF estimated in 2002 that the number of victims of internal trafficking in Haiti was between 176,000 and 300,000.1991

In addition to internal trafficking, children are trafficked from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. An IOM/UNICEF study in 2002 found that more than 2,000 Haitian children are victims of such trafficking each year.1992 Inconclusive evidence suggests that some Haitian children are sent to live with families in the Dominican Republic, where some of them are required to work rather than attend school, raising the possibility that such children are victims of trafficking.1993 Girls are also trafficked from the Dominican Republic to Haiti for commercial sexual exploitation.1994 In 2003, ILO-IPEC 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 13 to 17 age range, with some as young as 9 or 10 years old.1995 Haitians are trafficked to the United States, Europe, and Canada, but it is unclear if children are among those trafficked.1996

Despite the generally peaceful 2006 elections, Haiti has continued to experience insecurity.1997 Children are involved with armed groups in the country; they work as porters, spies, messengers, and combatants.1998

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for work in industrial, agricultural, or commercial enterprises in Haiti is 15 years.1999 The minimum age for employment as a domestic servant is also 15 years.2000 The minimum age for work as an apprentice is 14.2001 Children ages 15 to 18 must obtain a work authorization from the Ministry of Labor. Employing a child without a work authorization is punishable by fines.2002 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.2003

The law prohibits forced labor, including by children.2004 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.2005 Child trafficking is illegal.2006 The law obligates Haitians over age 18 to perform military service, but the military forces have been disbanded by presidential order.2007

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST), through the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), is responsible for enforcing child labor laws.2008 According to the U.S. Department of State, the agency has insufficient resources to investigate child labor violations.2009 IBESR also often takes the lead on anti-child trafficking efforts.2010 The Haitian National Police's Brigade for the Protection of Minors is responsible for investigating crimes against children, which also include trafficking. The Brigade, which has 18 full-time officers, monitors the movement of children across the border with the Dominican Republic.2011 In February 2007, the Brigade arrested the owner of an orphanage involved in trafficking 32 children through fraudulent adoptions.2012 The U.S. Department of State reports, however, that a lack of resources, training, and established procedures hamper the work of the Brigade.2013 The police and Ministry of Interior have posted border agents at the country's international airport to watch for children who might be victims of trafficking.2014 According to the U.S. Department of State, however, a dysfunctional judicial system and corruption, as well as attention to other issues such as the elections and controlling the country's violence, prevent the government from effectively addressing child trafficking.2015

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

The government has established a 5-year National Protection Plan for Children in Difficult Situations and Vulnerable Children that includes strategies to reduce child domestic work, combat child trafficking, and rehabilitate children involved in armed groups.2016 As part of the 2004-2006 Interim Cooperation Framework, an assistance program supported by various bilateral, multilateral, and UN agencies, MAST developed a 2-year plan to open shelters and protect children, including victims of trafficking. Two shelters have been opened, but they were not functioning during the reporting period.2017 Government officials from several ministries received training on trafficking issues during 2006.2018 The government refers victims of trafficking to NGOs that provide return and reintegration services. It also provides a small sum to repatriated persons, who may be victims of trafficking, to aid in their return to their origin communities.2019

The government also participated in a USD 430,000 Canadian-funded project implemented by ILO-IPEC to eradicate and prevent the worst forms of child labor, which ended in September 2006.2020


1979 Government of Haiti, Code du travail, (1984), Article 335; available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/135/64790/F61HTI01.htm.

1980 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.

1981 Government of Haiti, Constitution de la République d'Haiti, (1987), article 32; available from http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Haiti/haiti1987fr.html. See also UNESCO, Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006: Literacy for Life, 84. See also U.S. Department of State, Background Note: Haiti, [online] June 2006 [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1982.htm.

1982 ILO, Ratifications by Country; accessed October 18, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

1983 Ibid.

1984 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, October 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/docstore/ipec/prod/eng/20070228_Implementationreport_en_Web.pdf.

1985 U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78895.htm.

1986 International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Internationally-Recognised Core Labour Standards in the Dominican Republic: Report for the WTO General Council Review of Trade Policies of the Dominican Republic, 2002, 7; available from http://www.icftu.org/www/pdf/englishclsdominicanrepublic.pdf. See also International Organization for Migration, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims of Human Trafficking in Haiti, [online] December 4, 2006 [cited January 29, 2007]; available from http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/featureArticleAM/cache/offonce?entryId=12185. See also U.S. Department of State, "Dominican Republic," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2006, Washington, DC, March 6, 2007, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78889.htm.

1987 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 – 2006: Haiti," Section 6d.

1988 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Haiti," section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006, Washington, DC, June 5, 2006; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2006/65991.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.

1989 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Haiti," Section 5.

1990 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

1991 International Organization for Migration, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims.

1992 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Haiti." See also International Organization for Migration, Americas: Assistance for Children Victims.

1993 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Dominican Republic," Section 6d.

1994 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Haiti."

1995 ILO-IPEC, Etude exploratoire sur l'exploitation sexuelle des mineurs à des fins commerciales, Port-au-Prince, 2003, 50, 52. See also Chief of the Cabinet of the Minister of the Feminine Condition and Rights of Women, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 14, 2006.

1996 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Haiti," Section 5.

1997 Ibid. See also UNICEF, At a Glance: Haiti: Background, [online] [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/haiti.html. See also Louis Joinet, Situation of Human Rights in Haiti, UN Economic and Social Council, January 24, 2006, 2; available from http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G06/104/54/PDF/G0610454.pdf?OpenElement.

1998 UNICEF, At a Glance: Haiti: Background, [online] n.d. [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/haiti.html. See also Representative of the Child Protection Unit, UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti, interview with USDOL consultant, July 25, 2006.

1999 Government of Haiti, Code du travail, Article 335.

2000 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 1. See also Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor official, Interview with USDOL consultant, July 17, 2006. See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince official, Interview with USDOL official, March 21, 2007.

2001 Government of Haiti, Code du travail, Article 73.

2002 Ibid., Articles 337 and 340.

2003 Ibid., Articles 333 and 334.

2004 Ibid., Article 4. See also Government of Haiti, Loi relative a l'interdiction et a l'elimination de toutes forms d'abus, article 2.

2005 Government of Haiti, Código penal, Article 282; available from http://www.unifr.ch/derechopenal/introanu.htm.

2006 U.S. Embassy – Port au Prince, reporting, March 2, 2005. See also Government of Haiti, Loi relative a l'interdiction et a l'elimination de toutes forms d'abus, Article 2.

2007 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.

2008 Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor official, Interview, July 17, 2006.

2009 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Haiti," Section 6d.

2010 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

2011 Minister of Justice and Public Security, Directive Generale portant création, organisation, mission et fonctionnement de la Brigade de Protection des Mineurs de la Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire, Port-au-Prince, 2003, 4. See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports2006: Haiti," Section 5.

2012 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

2013 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Haiti," Section 5.

2014 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

2015 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2006: Haiti." See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

2016 Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, Plan National de Protection: Enfance en situation difficile ou de vulnérabilité, December 2005, 1.

2017 UN, World Bank, European Commission, and Inter-American Development Bank, Republic of Haiti: Interim Cooperation Framework 2004-2006, Summary Report, July 2006, xi; available from http://haiticci.undg.org/uploads/ReportVersion8%20Eng%20FINAL%20Low%20Res.pdf. See also U.S. Embassy – Port au Prince, reporting, March 2, 2005. See also U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince official, Interview, March 21, 2007.

2018 U.S. Department of State, "Haiti," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2005, Washington, DC, March 8, 2006, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61731.htm.

2019 U.S. Embassy – Port-au-Prince, reporting, March 6, 2007.

2020 ILO-IPEC official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 16, 2006.

Search Refworld

Countries