Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 12:43 GMT

2007 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Rwanda

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 - Rwanda, 27 August 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48caa48932.html [accessed 23 September 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 Labor2935
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:27.3
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:29.9
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:24.8
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:13
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:119
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2005:73
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:55.3
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2003:46
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated
* Must pay for miscellaneous school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Rwanda, children primarily work in subsistence agriculture. Children also work on tea, sugar cane, and rice plantations; in sand extraction quarries, brickyards, and stone crushing; and engage in domestic service for third-party households and prostitution.2936 Children also work in coffee harvesting; charcoal burning and carrying;2937 and microenterprises.2938 They are found working at waste disposal sites.2939 In urban areas, children live on the streets and work as porters, car guards, garbage collectors, and vendors, selling items such as cigarettes and candy. Street children, particularly girls, are at high risk of sexual exploitation.2940 The problem of child labor has been attributed partly to the high incidence of children who have been orphaned and are now heading households as a result of Rwanda's civil war, 1994 genocide,2941 and the high incidence of HIV/AIDS.2942

Children are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation, including forced prostitution. A small number of girls also engage in prostitution to survive – most are between 14 and 18 years and head their own households. Children are trafficked within Rwanda for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic service.2943

There continued to be reports in 2007 of an armed group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) recruiting Congolese refugee children living in Rwanda and trafficking them for forced labor and soldiering.2944

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age of employment at 16 years,2945 but this does not apply to children working in subsistence agriculture.2946 Subject to certain provisions and restrictions, children can be employed at 14 years with parental consent.2947 The Ministry of Labor can also make exceptions to allow children 14 to 16 years to work in a company or in apprenticeships. By law, however, the Ministry of Labor will only grant exceptions for light work that will not harm children's health or education. Children under the age of 16 years are prohibited from working between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. or from performing any work deemed hazardous or difficult as determined by the Ministry of Labor, and must have at least 12 hours of rest between work shifts.2948

The law prohibits forced labor.2949 All sexual relations with children under the age of 18 are considered rape under Rwandan law. The law also prohibits prostitution and compelling another person to engage in prostitution. Violations are punishable by 10 years of imprisonment and a fine if the crime is committed against a minor under the age of 18 years.2950 If the child is between 14 and 18 years and the crime is committed by a person in a position of authority over the child, it is punishable by a fine and life imprisonment. If the child is under 14 years, the crime is punishable by life imprisonment. Using or exploiting children in pornographic publications is prohibited and is punishable by a fine and between 5 and 12 years imprisonment.2951 Laws against slavery, child prostitution, forced prostitution, and kidnapping can be used to prosecute traffickers.2952 The law also prohibits the use of children in drug trafficking.2953 The law sets the minimum age for military service at 18 years.2954 However, this law does not apply to the Local Defense Forces, a paramilitary government militia,2955 and there are no legal penalties for recruiting children under 18 years for military service.2956

The Ministry of Public Service, Skills Development, and Labor's labor inspectors continue their efforts to enforce child labor laws by issuing warnings and levying fines against employers who employed children illegally.2957 The Government's 12 regional offices employed 30 child labor inspectors; however, these offices were not given adequate resources to identify or prevent child labor. According to USDOS, the Government lacks the staff and capacity to effectively enforce child labor laws.2958

Rwanda was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperation 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.2959 As part of the Multilateral Cooperation 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.2960

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

The Government is implementing its National Plan of Action against Child Labor, which was developed with assistance from ILO-IPEC under the USDOL-funded Global Child Soldiers Project.2961 This 5-year plan includes activities such as the development and implementation of a national child labor survey and the development of a child labor monitoring system. The elimination of child labor is also specifically mentioned as a government priority in Rwanda's Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which was adopted in November 2007.2962 The USDOL-funded KURET project provided technical assistance to the Government in incorporating child labor into the EDPRS.2963 In 2007, labor inspectors were trained by the USDOL-funded KURET project and UNICEF on child labor issues.2964 Additionally, targets to reduce child labor have been included in district officials' performance contracts, which are signed personally by President Kagame.2965

In July 2007, the Government of Rwanda adopted a strategic plan to implement its National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC).2966 This targets working children, children living in child-headed households, children affected by armed conflict, children exploited in prostitution and sexual abuse, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and street children. The National Policy on OVC includes specific strategies to address child labor, such as improving children's working conditions, better enforcement of labor laws, supporting income-generating activities for families, strengthening a "catch up" education system, and conducting child labor studies and sensitization campaigns.2967

The Ministry of Education continued to provide education to children who missed out on primary school as a result of working.2968 Rehabilitation and training programs were also provided to help children who had been working in plantations, mines, and quarries to return to school.2969

The Government of Rwanda continues to participate in the 4-year, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together (KURET) project, funded by USDOL at USD 14.5 million and by World Vision at USD 5.8 million. Implemented by World Vision, the International Rescue Committee, and the Academy for Educational Development, the KURET Project aims to withdraw or prevent a total of 30,600 children from exploitive labor in HIV/AIDS-affected areas of these four countries through the provision of educational services.2970

The Government also participated in a global USD 7 million USDOL-funded project implemented by ILO-IPEC through May 2007, to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict and support the rehabilitation of former child soldiers.2971 The project withdrew a total of 4,335 children and prevented a total of 4,560 children from involvement with armed groups in 7 countries, including Rwanda.2972 Throughout 2007, Rwandan children who had been soldiers in the DRC received assistance, education, and reintegration services from the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission's (RDRC) Muhazi child demobilization center near Kigali.2973 The National Poverty Reduction Program, the Local Development Program through Labor-Intensive Public Works, and other local initiatives also provide opportunities for former child soldiers.2974 The RDRC continued to broadcast radio messages in Eastern DRC and Rwanda, encouraging combatants in the DRC to disarm and return home.2975 The Government continued to raise awareness among refugees living in Rwandan camps on the dangers of child soldiering.2976

The Government continued to closely monitor security checkpoints and vehicle cargo for signs of human trafficking.2977 Police officers received training for identifying trafficking victims, including children, in 2007.2978

The Government continues to work with NGOs to assist child-headed households and sensitize local officials to their needs. Local authorities continue to place street children in foster homes or government-run facilities. The Government supports 12 centers throughout the country that provide street children with shelter and help meet their basic needs.2979


2935 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 Rwanda, Law No. 51/2001 of 30/12/2001 Establishing the Labour Code, (December 30, 2001), article 11; available from http://www.rwandainvest.gov.rw/lawlab.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, "Rwanda," 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. See also UNESCO Institute for Statistics, National Education Systems, [online] [cited March 19, 2008]; available from http://www.uis.unesco.org/statsen/statistics/yearbook/tables/Table3_1.html. See also Government of Rwanda, Constitution of Rwanda, (May 30, 1991), article 27 available from http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/rw00000_.html.

2936 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," section 6d.

2937 World Vision, KURET (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together) Initiative, Project Document, July 18, 2005, 7.

2938 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," section 6d.

2939 Republic of Rwanda, National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children, Kigali, 2003, 33.

2940 Human Rights Watch, Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War on Rwanda's Children, New York, March 2003, 61-63; available from http://hrw.org/reports/2003/rwanda0403.

2941 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, February 27, 2006.

2942 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," section 5.

2943 Ibid., section 5 and 6d. See also U.S. Department of State, "Rwanda (Tier 2)," in Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007, Washington, DC, June 12, 2007; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2007/.

2944 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," sections 2d, 5, 6c, and 6d. See also U.S. Department of State, reporting, February 27, 2008, para 27A.

2945 Government of Rwanda, Labour Code, article 11.

2946 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," section 6d.

2947 Government of Rwanda, Labour Code, article 11.

2948 Ibid., articles 60-61, 63, and 65.

2949 Ibid., article 4.

2950 Government of Rwanda, "Rwanda," in Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offences against Children; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws. See also Government of Rwanda, Criminal Code, 363-365, 374; available from www.protectionproject.org [hard copy on file]. See also U.S. Department of State, reporting, February 27, 2008, para 28A.

2951 Government of Rwanda, "Interpol: Rwanda." See also U.S. Department of State, reporting, February 27, 2008, para 28A.

2952 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Rwanda."

2953 U.S. Department of State, reporting, February 27, 2008, para 28A.

2954 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Programme, Project Document, Geneva, September 17, 2003, 23. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Rwanda," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.childsoldiers.org/document_get.php?id=791. See also U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, March 1, 2007, para 29 A.

2955 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.182) Rwanda (ratification: 2000) 2006, [online] [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm.. See also Human Rights Watch, Lasting Wounds: Consequences of Genocide and War on Rwanda's Children, 16. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Global Report 2004: Rwanda."

2956 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No.182) Rwanda (ratification: 2000), [online] 2006 [cited September 24, 2006]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newcountryframeE.htm.

2957 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, November 30, 2007, para B.

2958 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," section 6d.

2959 See also ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, November 16, 2006.

2960 See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the Trafficking of Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), technical progress report, Geneva, September 1, 2007. See also Emmanuel Goujon, African States Sign up to Fight Human Trafficking, Press Release, Agence France Presse, Abuja, July 7, 2006.

2961 ILO-IPEC, Prevention of Child Recruitment and Reintegration of Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups: Strategic Framework for Addressing the Economic Gap, Geneva, 2007, 21.

2962 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, November 30, 2007, para D.

2963 World Vision, KURET (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia Together) Initiative Technical Progress Report, March 30, 2007, 1.

2964 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, November 30, 2007, para B.

2965 Ibid., para A.

2966 Ibid.

2967 Republic of Rwanda, National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children. See also ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, WFCL: Rwanda. See also UNICEF, Rwanda – Background, [online] [cited December 11, 2007]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/rwanda_1717.html?q=printme.

2968 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Rwanda."

2969 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, WFCL: Rwanda.

2970 World Vision, KURET, Project Document.

2971 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict, Project Document. See also ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-Regional Programme, Project Document Annex, Geneva, September 17, 2006. See also U.S. Department of Labor, Prevention and Reintegration of Children Involved in Armed Conflict: An Inter-regional Program Project Summary, 2007.

2972 ILO-IPEC Geneva official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 14, 2008.

2973 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, November 30, 2007, para C.

2974 ILO-IPEC, Prevention and Reintegration of Children involved in Armed Conflict, Project Document Annex

2975 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Rwanda."

2976 U.S. Embassy – Kigali, reporting, November 30, 2007, para C.

2977 U.S. Department of State, "Trafficking in Persons Report – 2007: Rwanda."

2978 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2007: Rwanda," section 5.

2979 Ibid.

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