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

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uruguay

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 18 April 2003
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Uruguay, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d748ca3d.html [accessed 11 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.

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

Uruguay is an associated country of ILO-IPEC.3715 In December 2000, the Government of Uruguay created a National Committee for the Eradication of Child Labor.3716 ILO-IPEC has worked with the government and the committee to harmonize the country's laws with ILO conventions on children, improve child labor statistics, develop child labor monitoring and inspection systems, and strengthen social policies and conduct awareness raising campaigns on the issue.3717 The ILO's Inter-American Center for Research and Documentation on Professional Formation funds a number of projects to socially integrate youth into schools and the greater community.3718 In November 2002, the IDB approved funding to the Government of Uruguay to improve the living conditions of at-risk children and adolescents, which will include measures to reduce the risk of school attrition, child labor and child abuse.3719

As part of its national action plan for children, the government has undertaken various initiatives to encourage school attendance and improve the quality of basic education, such as the provision of lunches and medical attention in schools, introduction of a longer school day, more coordinated curricula, teacher training, and projects designed to encourage local involvement in school programs.3720 The National Child and Adolescent Institute (INAME) heads a collaborative effort to provide parents of working children with monthly payments in exchange for regular class attendance by their children.3721 INAME also works with at-risk youth such as those living on the street and provides adolescents with work training.3722 The government collaborates with NGOs to fund the Child and Family Service Center Plan,3723 which provides after school recreational programs for children and special services for street children.3724 INAME heads the Interinstitutional Group for the Prevention and Protection of Children against Youth Sexual Exploitation, which conducts research on the phenomenon and operates a toll-free phone number to connect victims with support services.3725

The National Administration of Public Education (ANEP), an autonomous government agency,3726 has developed a project to train teachers and educate students on children's rights.3727 In August 2002, Uruguay received a USD 3.9 billion loan package from the World Bank, IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank that, in addition to several other purposes, is intended to support research and school rehabilitation conducted by ANEP.3728 This loan is in addition to a USD 43.4 million loan from the World Bank in April 2002 for pre-school and primary education.3729

Uruguay is also participating in regional efforts to combat child labor. In 1997, Uruguay was a party to the Declaration of Buenos Aires, in which it agreed, along with the MERCOSUR partners (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay) and Chile, to promote the harmonization of regional laws and carry out awareness raising activities related to child labor.3730 Uruguay has also committed to exchange best practices in regard to child labor inspections and statistics with its MERCOSUR partners.3731 In addition to providing support for these efforts, ILO-IPEC is also promoting regional projects to strengthen civil society partners, incorporate child labor themes into national and regional policies, remove children from child labor through direct action programs, and establish observer committees responsible for evaluating progress.3732

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In 2000, the ILO estimated that 1 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years were working in Uruguay.3733 The incidence of working boys is greater than that of working girls, and this ratio increases in rural areas.3734 Children work in services, stores, agriculture, ranching, industry, and as artisans and domestic servants.3735 More children work in the interior of the country than in Montevideo, the capital city.3736 Children as young as age 11 or 12 reportedly engage in prostitution;3737 these children work in entertainment establishments and in regions that cater to tourists, such as the resort of Punta del Este.3738 A trafficking ring that brought a small number of Ecuadorian youths to the country and forced them to work in unhealthy conditions was discovered in May 2001.3739

Education is compulsory for a total of nine years, beginning at the primary level, and is free from the pre-primary through the university level.3740 In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 112.8 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 92.3 percent.3741 Primary school attendance rates are unavailable for Uruguay. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.3742

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Children and Adolescents' Code sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years.3743 Under rare circumstances, adolescents between the ages of 14 and 15 may be granted special permission to work by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.3744 Minors between the ages of 15 and 18 also require government permission to work, and are prohibited from engaging in dangerous, fatiguing or night work.3745 All working children under the age of 18 must obtain a work card issued by the National Child and Adolescent Institute and must provide it to their employers.3746 Article 294 of the Uruguayan Penal Code prohibits procuring a person for prostitution.3747 The trafficking of children and child pornography are criminal offenses in Uruguay.3748

The Ministry of Labor and Social Security is responsible for enforcing labor laws.3749 The Adolescent Labor Division of INAME bears primary responsibility for implementing policies to prevent and regulate child labor and to provide training on child labor issues.3750 Minimum age laws and laws prohibiting forced or bonded labor by children are generally enforced in practice.3751

Uruguay ratified ILO Convention 138 on June 2, 1977, and ILO Convention 182 on August 3, 2001.3752


3715 ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] [cited September 5, 2002]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm. See also ILO-IPEC, Plan Subregional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil en los países del Mercosur y Chile, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Lima, 13 [cited December 19, 2002]; available from http://www.oit.org.pe/spanish/260ameri/oitreg/activid/ proyectos/ipec/doc/documentos/folletomercosur.doc.

3716 ILO-IPEC, Plan Subregional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil, 13. The committee is composed of representatives from government agencies and nongovernmental organizations such as the Ministry of Labor, the National Children's Institute, labor unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Nongovernmental Organizations, and UNICEF. See Ricardo Nario, Embassy of Uruguay, facsimile communication to USDOL official, September 6, 2002.

3717 ILO-IPEC official, electronic communication to USDOL official, October 1, 2002.

3718 ILO-IPEC, Observatorio de experiencias: Uruguay, programas y proyectos ejecutados por el Instituto de Educación Popular el Abrojo, [online] [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://www.cinterfor.org.uy/public/ spanish/region/ampro/cinterfor/temas/youth/exp/uru/abrojo/index.htm.

3719 Inter-American Development Bank, IDB Approves $40 Million for Comprehensive Program to Benefit At-Risk Children, Adolescents and Families in Uruguay, [online] November 20, 2002 [cited November 26, 2002]; available from http://www.iadb.org/exr/PRENSA/2002/cp26302e.htm.

3720 ILO-IPEC Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Informe Regional- Uruguay, UNICEF, [online] 1999 [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef.org/lac/espanol/informe_regional/uruguay/ acciones.htm.

3721 The payments approximate the amount of money that a child would earn working on the street. U.S. Embassy-Montevideo, unclassified telegram no. 1824, September 2000.

3722 National Institute for Minors, Centro de Formación y Estudios, INAME, [online] [cited September 6, 2002], 12; available from http://www.iname.gub.uy/TAREA.htm.

3723 Carmen Midaglia, Alternativas de protección a la infancia carenciada: La peculiar convivencia de lo público y privado en el Uruguay, Colección Becas de Investigación CLACSO-ASDI, Buenos Aires, December 2000, 12 [cited December 19, 2002]; available from http://www.clacso.edu.ar/~libros/midaglia/introduccion.pdf.

3724 ILO-IPEC Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Informe Regional- Uruguay.

3725 Other governmental agencies and UNICEF are also members of the commission. Martin Marzano Luissi, La Experiencia Uruguaya en Explotación Sexual de Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes, Instituto Nacional del Menor.

3726 Inter-American Development Bank, Uruguay: Social Protection and Sustainability Program (UR-0151), IDB, Washington, D.C., August 7, 2002, 7 [cited December 19, 2002]; available from http://www.iadb.org.

3727 National Administration of Public Education (ANEP), Derechos del niño: Derechos deberes y garantías, una propuesta pedagógica hacía un indicador de logro actitudinal, segunda parte del proyecto, [online] [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://www.anep.edu.uy/primaria/InformacionInstitucional/ProyectosCEP/Derechos1.htm.

3728 World Bank, World Bank Approves $300 Million to help Uruguay Cope with External Shocks, Strengthen Economic Reforms, (News Release No. 2002/056/LCR), [online] August 8, 2002 [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://www.worldbank.org. See also Inter-American Development Bank, Uruguay: Social Protection and Sustainability Program, 16, 19.

3729 World Bank, Uruguay: World Bank Approves $43.4 Million for Pre-school and Primary Education, (2002/294/ LAC), [online] April 25, 2002 [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://worldbank.org.

3730 ILO-IPEC, Plan Subregional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil, 5.

3731 Ibid.

3732 Ibid., 18-19.

3733 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

3734 ILO-IPEC, "Uruguay" in Trabajo infantil en los paises del MERCOSUR: Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Lima, 1998, 99.

3735 Ibid.

3736 Ibid.

3737 ECPAT International, Uruguay, in ECPAT International, [database online] 2002 [cited September 6, 2002], "CSEC Overview"; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_database/index.asp.

3738 Ibid. See also Swedish International Development Agency, Looking Back, Thinking Forward: The Fourth Report on the Implementation of the Agenda for Action adopted at the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, Stockholm, 1999-2000.

3739 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Uruguay, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 3064-65, Section 6f [cited December 19, 2002]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/wha/ 8231pf.htm.

3740 U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, unclassified telegram no. 1824. See also UNESCO, Uruguay- Education System, [online] 2002 [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://www.unesco.org.

3741 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002.

3742 For a more detailed description on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

3743 Government of Uruguay, Ley núm. 9342, por la que se dicta el Código del niño, [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/scripts/natlexcgi.exe?lang=E.

3744 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Uruguay, 3064-65, Section 6d.

3745 Ibid.

3746 Work cards must contain a medical certificate reflecting the child's good health and parental authorization. During the first 9 months of 2000, National Institute for Children (INAME) issued approximately 1,445 work cards to children between the ages of 14 and 18, with three-fourths of these going to boys. U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, unclassified telegram no. 1824.

3747 If the victim is younger than 14 years, the punishment is 4 years of imprisonment. See United Nations Development Programme, Uruguay: Legislación sobre violencia, [online] 2002 [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http:/ /www.undp.org/rblac/gender/campaign-spanish/uruguay.htm.

3748 U.S. Embassy – Montevideo, unclassified telegram no. 1824.

3749 ILO-IPEC, Trabajo Infantil en los países del MERCOSUR, 101.

3750 ILO-IPEC Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Informe Regional- Uruguay.

3751 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Uruguay, 3064-65, Section 6d.

3752 ILO, Ratifications by Country, ILOLEX, [database online] [cited September 6, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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