Last Updated: Friday, 21 November 2014, 13:47 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Russia

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Russia, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca2e3d.html [accessed 23 November 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.

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

The Government of Russia is an associated member of ILO-IPEC.[3661] In January 2000, the government began working with ILO-IPEC on a 3-year project to rehabilitate working street children in St. Petersburg.[3662] The program has included awareness-raising workshops for local government officials and the establishment of an action committee to develop recommendations for city government.[3663] The Government of Russia has also supported the development of ILO-IPEC working papers on the situation of working street children in St. Petersburg,[3664] the surrounding Leningrad region, and Moscow.[3665] In 2003, ILO-IPEC began to develop a model rehabilitation project for working street children in the Leningrad region, and to work with the government to establish a regional child labor working group.[3666] The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is working with UNICEF to establish a number of regional child rights ombudsmen.[3667] USAID also assists the government in efforts to prevent child abandonment and strengthen community services for children in the regions of Tomsk, Khabarovsk, and Magadan.[3668]

In 2002, President Vladimir Putin called for immediate measures to address the problem of working street children. In response, the Ministry of Labor established a hotline for reporting cases of child abuse, including the problem of street children.[3669] In August of the same year, the government initiated a 4-year USD 200 million "Children of Russia" program to improve child welfare, among other goals.[3670] The program has expanded the number of institutions serving orphans, streetchildren, and children and families at risk throughout the country.[3671] Also in 2002, the Governor of St. Petersburg, a trade union federation, and employers signed an agreement aimed at eliminating the worst forms of child labor.[3672]

The government has developed a National Plan of Action on children's rights,[3673] and has a federal commission headed by the Minister of Labor and Social Development that focuses on child labor and education issues.[3674] Some regional governments, particularly Samara and Novgorod, have given priority to providing assistance to abandoned children, while other regions, such as Primorskiy Kray, have chronically under-funded children's programs.[3675] The government has engaged in various awareness-raising efforts on the problem of trafficking,[3676] and has begun a project to develop a regional commission against trafficking and to establish a center to assist victims.[3677]

In 1997, the World Bank provided a loan to the Russian government for a 7-year project to improve the quality of social science education, strengthen school management, and increase textbook quality and availability in secondary schools.[3678] In 2001, the government received World Bank financing for an Education Reform Project to improve general and vocational education and to enhance public educational spending.[3679]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Recent statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Russia are unavailable. Reports indicate, however, that child labor is a problem in the informal sector.[3680] The breakup of the Soviet Union and the transition to a market economy have increased poverty levels in Russia, and in 2002, the World Bank reported that children had a higher poverty rate than the population as a whole.[3681] Economic downturn, the deterioration of social services, and the erosion of family protections have led to an increase in the number of street children in the country.[3682] Estimates of the number of street children range from 100,000 to 150,000, with possibly 3 million additional children at risk of living on the streets.[3683] Experts surveyed by ILO-IPEC in 2001 generally agreed that there were between 30,000 and 50,000 street children in Moscow.[3684] Children work in informal retail services, perform apprenticeships in small shops, sell goods on the street, wash cars, deliver goods, and collect trash.[3685]

Children in Russia are engaged in prostitution[3686] and pornography.[3687] Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation from Russia to various countries, including China,[3688] and are trafficked internally generally from rural to urban areas.[3689] There are reports that rebel forces in Chechnya recruit and use child soldiers.[3690]

Primary education is free until age 15, but the Law on Education allows a child to finish school at the age of 14 with parental andgovernment approval.[3691] Most families pay additional fees for books and school supplies.[3692] There are no primary school enrollment or attendance rates available for Russia.[3693]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code sets the minimum age for regular employment at 16 years,[3694] and regulates the working conditions of children under 18, including bans on overtime, hazardous work, and night work.[3695] Children may work at ages 14 and 15 with parental approval, as long as suchwork does not threaten their health and welfare.[3696] The Constitution prohibits forced labor.[3697] Articles 132-135 of the Criminal Code prohibit forcing a minor under the age of 14 to engage in sex or any acts of perversion, while Article 151 of the Code prohibits involvement of a minor in prostitution.[3698] Although there are no specific legal provisions concerning child pornography,[3699] Article 135 has been used to prosecute child pornographers.[3700] There are no laws specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons,[3701] although articles of the Criminal Code may be used to prosecute traffickers.[3702]

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Ministry of Interior are responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws, but fail to do so effectively.[3703] The Ministry of Labor reported that 12,000 child labor violations were registered in 2001,[3704] and that 36 children died in work-related accidents in 2002.[3705] The government has successfully prosecuted criminals engaged in the production and distribution of child pornography.[3706] Furthermore, the police attempt to address the issue of street children. In 2001, for example, 253,000 parents were cited for leaving children unsupervised. Some of these children were returned to their families and provided assistance from social workers, while in other cases parents were denied custody or criminal charges were filed against parents.[3707]

The Government of Russia ratified ILO Convention 138 on May 3, 1979, and ILO Convention 182 on March 25, 2003.[3708]


[3661] ILO-IPEC, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2002, Geneva, 2002, 16.

[3662] U.S. Consulate-St. Petersburg, unclassified telegram no. 1504, July 17, 2002.

[3663] The action committee consists of trade union, police, academic, employer, religious and other NGO representatives. See Ibid. The project has also established teacher training in schools with high dropout rates, directed families with at-risk children to existing services, and provided rehabilitation to young girls living on the street and food, health care, and other necessities to street children. See U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215, October 2002.

[3664] ILO-IPEC, In-depth Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in St. Petersburg 2000, St. Petersburg, 2001, 8; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/russia/ra/street_s.pdf.

[3665] ILO-IPEC, In-Depth Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow 2001, Moscow, 2002, 6; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/russia/ra/street_m.pdf. See also ILO-IPEC, In-Depth Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in the Leningrad Region 2001, St. Petersburg, 2002, 8; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/simpoc/russia/ra/street_l.pdf. ILO-IPEC has provided training to social workers and school personnel in Moscow on child labor issues. See U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120, September 16, 2003.

[3666] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3667] Such positions have been established in the cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg, and in the regions of Arzamas Volkskiy, Novgorod, Chechnya, Ivanovo, and Volgograd. Ombudsmen only have the authority to request enforcement actions from government agencies. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Russia, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18388pf.htm.

[3668] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3669] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215. See also U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3670] The program also aims to improve children's health and prevent juvenile crime. See U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3671] The Ministry of Labor estimates, however, that thousands more centers are necessary to meet the demand for services. See U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3672] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3673] Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Delegation of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matvienko, Statement at the United Nations Special Session on Children, May 10, 2002; available from http://www.un.org/ga/children/russiaE.htm.

[3674] In addition to government efforts to assist children at risk of working or living on the street, USAID is working with international and local NGOs on an "Assistance to Russian Orphans" project that seeks to prevent child abandonment, promote policy change and increase public awareness on the problems of orphans. See U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3675] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3676] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Russia, Washington, D.C., June 2003; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2003/21277.htm.

[3677] U.S. Embassy-Helsinki, unclassified telegram no. 769, June 13, 2003.

[3678] The project also provides assistance to universities. See World Bank, Education Innovation Project, [online] November 5, 2003 [cited November 5, 2003]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P008825.

[3679] World Bank, Education Reform Project, project appraisal document, Washington, D.C., April 30, 2001, 4; available from http://web.worldbank.org/external/projects/main?pagePK=104231&piPK=73230&theSitePK=40941&menuPK=228424&Projectid=P050474.

[3680] See also ILO-IPEC, Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow, 36. See also U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3681] World Bank, Memorandum of the President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation to the Executive Directors on a Country Assistance Strategy of the World Bank Group for the Russian Federation, Report No: 24127-RU, Washington, D.C., May 14, 2002, 1, 3; available from http://www.worldbank.org.ru/ECA/Russia.nsf/ECADocByUnid/B38DE4AEF2AEB41EC3256CB50033CC73/$FILE/Russia%20CAS%2024127-RU.pdf.

[3682] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6d. See also ILO-IPEC, Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow, 17. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Russian Federation, CRC/C/15/Add.110, United Nations, Geneva, November 1999, para. 12; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/f60a0928c30f787980256811003b8d5d?Opendocument.

[3683] World Bank, Memorandum of the President, 4. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, 1745-52, Section 5, which estimates that 50,000 children a year run away from home.

[3684] ILO-IPEC, Analysis of the Situation of Working Street Children in Moscow, 21.

[3685] Ibid., 36.

[3686] Donna M. Hughes, Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation: The Case of the Russian Federation, No. 7, IOM, Geneva, June 2002, 17; available from http://www.iom.int/documents/publication/en/mrs%5F7%5F2002.pdf. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6d and 6f.

[3687] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6f. See also Hughes, Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation, 24.

[3688] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – Russia. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6f.

[3689] Hughes, Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation, 17. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – Russia.

[3690] Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers 1379 Report, London, November 2002, 76; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/cs/childsoldiers.nsf/6be02e73d9f9cb8980256ad4005580ff/c560bb92d962c64c80256c69004b0797?OpenDocument. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, para. 56.

[3691] Although no law exists to make education compulsory, the Constitution holds parents responsible for ensuring their children receive basic education. See U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3692] Ibid.

[3693] Overall school enrollment is reportedly high, but truancy is a growing problem in poorer regions of the country. See Ibid.

[3694] Labor Code, (February 1, 2002), Article 63.

[3695] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6d. The new labor code came into force on February 1, 2002. See U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication to USDOL official, November 29, 2002.

[3696] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6d.

[3697] Constitution of the Russian Federation, Article 37; available from http://www.friends-partners.org/oldfriends/constitution/russian-const-ch2.html.

[3698] U.S. Department of State official, electronic communication to USDOL official, October 19, 2003. See also U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3699] Government of Russia, National Laws, Legislation of Interpol member states on sexual offences against children: Russia, Interpol, [database online] [cited August 21, 2003]; available from http://www.interpol.int/public/children/sexualabuse/nationallaws/csaRussia.asp. The Criminal Code does prohibit unlawful preparation of pornography for distribution. See Article 242 as cited in Government of Russia, National Laws, Legislation of Interpol members.

[3700] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3701] Hughes, Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation, 24. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6f.

[3702] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15215.

[3703] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Russia, Section 6d.

[3704] Ibid.

[3705] U.S. Embassy-Moscow, unclassified telegram no. 15120.

[3706] The U.S. Department of State provided assistance in these efforts. See Ibid.

[3707] Ibid.

[3708] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited June 30, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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