Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

2002 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Latvia

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 - Latvia, 18 April 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7489ac.html [accessed 25 April 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 Latvia has initiated a National Program for Preventing Sexual Violence Against Children for 2000-2004,2047 and it is cooperating with the Baltic and Eastern European governments to combat regional organized crime groups that engage in trafficking or prostitution.2048 In 1999, the National Center for the Rights of the Child was restructured to monitor the implementation of legislation on child rights. Inspectors who focus on children's rights protection work at a municipal level to ensure the coordination of activities throughout the country.2049 The government has established an anti-trafficking working group that includes representation from government and NGOs involved in anti-trafficking efforts.2050

Several international organizations have programs that support children. UNICEF and the AIDS Prophylaxis Center carried out a program in 1999 to educate and train employees of NGOs and municipalities on how to work with street children.2051 In October 2001, IOM launched an information campaign aimed at potential victims of trafficking, the press, the general public, and government authorities.2052 IOM also instituted a counter-trafficking project aimed at establishing a coordinated system of assistance for trafficking victims from the Baltic Republics.2053 The Children's Unit of the Council of Baltic Sea States supports activities targeting children victimized by sexual exploitation, children living in the streets and children in institutions.2054 The National Center for the Rights of the Child started an education program in 1999 called "A Lesson In Children's Rights for Adults" that in part addresses the situation of children outside the system. The program trains court personnel, teachers and social workers to be equipped to deal with the growing street children situation.2055 The World Bank is providing the Government of Latvia with a loan to implement a 5-year Education Improvement Project to provide school building and structural repairs, improve the quality of education, and strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Education and Science.2056

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in Latvia are unavailable. However, the commercial sexual exploitation of children is known to exist.2057 Prostitution by both boys and girls is a significant problem, particularly in rural areas, near borders and in the capital city of Riga.2058 It is estimated that up to 15 percent of prostitutes in Latvia are children between 8 and 18 years old.2059 Victims from Latvia are trafficked to countries in Western Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Greece, Italy, and UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation.2060 There are also reports of child involvement in the production of pornography.2061

Education is free and compulsory until the age of 15, or through the completion of primary school.2062 Paragraph three of the Latvian Education Law of 1998 guarantees equality in education for all residents; paragraph four defines the mandatory nature of education in Latvia, making acquiring basic education by age 18 mandatory.2063 Article 112 of Part Eight of the Constitution establishes that everybody has the right to education.2064

In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 102.8 percent, while the net primary enrollment rate was 94.4 percent.2065 The government reports that discrepancies in numbers of boys and girls attending primary school in Latvia are not due to discrimination, but rather a result of demographics, with the number of boys exceeding girls.2066

The number of children who do not attend primary school is increasing, the number of children starting school has decreased and the dropout rates have increased dramatically.2067 In rural areas, a number of schools have been closed.2068 In 1997, the Ministry of Science and Education had a record of 1,311 children ages 5 to 15 who were not attending school.2069 In accordance with Regulation No. 439 (December 28, 1999) of the Cabinet of Ministers, information on children who are not attending school is to be compiled by the Ministry of Education and Science; however, this has not been carried out.2070

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code establishes 15 years as the minimum age for general employment, although children over 13 years of age may work in light jobs that are not harmful to their health and morals if it does not interfere with school, and if the child has permission from a parent or guardian.2071 According to the Labor Code, children under 18 years may not be employed in jobs requiring heavy labor, night-time or overtime work, or under conditions that are hazardous to health or morals.2072 The Constitution prohibits forced labor, unless it is required by a court order or in the case of a disaster.2073 Approved in May 2000, Article 165 of the Criminal Code prohibits sending a person to a foreign country for the purpose of sexual exploitation and serves as Latvia's primary antitrafficking legislation. Trafficking of a minor is punishable from 8 to 15 years of imprisonment.2074 The Cabinet of Ministers also adopted Regulations on the Restriction of Prostitution in 1998, which prohibits juveniles from engaging in prostitution.2075 Additionally, the Criminal Code prohibits the procuring, inducing or compelling of a minor to commit prostitution.2076

The Latvian Children's Right's Law was ratified in 1998, which guarantees children's rights and freedoms at the national level.2077

The Government of Latvia has not ratified ILO Convention 138 or ILO Convention 182.2078


2047 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties, CRC/C/15/ Add.142, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Geneva, January 26, 2001, para. 5.

2048 Latvia is involved with the Special Task Force of the Baltic Sea States, which combats regional organized crime, holds training on related issues and coordinates the protection of witnesses and victims. Latvia has also signed bilateral agreements with Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan to implement mutual legal assistance measures. See Anhelita Kamenska, "Trafficking in Women- Latvia," in Trafficking in Women in the Baltic States: Legal Aspects, Research Report Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies, IOM, 2001, Annex III [cited January 2, 2003]; available from http://www.iom.fi/publications/Reports/2001/Baltic-Trafficking/Annex%20III%20-%20national%20paper%20-%20Latvia.pdf.

2049 Government of Latvia, Report of the State of Latvia on Situation after the Conference on Children held by Government leaders of States of the World, 1 and 5 [cited August 30, 2002]; available from http://www.unicef.org/ specialsession/how_country/edr_latvia_en.PDF. Initially the Children's Rights Protection Center was established in 1995 and was restructured in 1999 to become the National Center for the Rights of the Child.

2050 The working group includes representation from the Ministries of Justice, Welfare, Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Education and Science, municipalities, NGOs and others. Nordic-Baltic Campaign Against Trafficking in Women, National Campaign: Latvia, [online] [cited November 15, 2002]; available from http://www.nordicbalticcampaign.org/ latvian/.

2051 UNICEF, Prophylaxis Process for Street Children in Latvia Against HIV, AIDS and STDs, [online] [cited August 29, 2002]; available from http://www.un.lv/unicef/English/Projects/Profil_eng.htm.

2052 IOM Press Briefing Notes, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 15, 2002.

2053 The project takes place in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and is carried out through a partnership among the Ministries of Interior, Border Guards, Departments of Investigating Organized Crime and Ministries of Foreign Affairs. IOM, Online Project Compendium, [online] [cited August 29, 2002]; available from http://www.iom.int/iomwebsite/ Project/ServletSerachProject?event+detail&id+FI1Z045.

2054 Child Center for Children At Risk in the Baltic Sea Region, [online] [cited August 29, 2002]; available from http://www.childcenter.baltinfo.org/.

2055 UNESCO, Education for All 2000 Assessment: Country Reports-Latvia, prepared by Department of Strategy of Education in the Ministry of Education and Science, pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 52/84, 1999, Section 11.1 [cited January 2, 2003]; available from http://www2.unesco.org/wef/countryreports/latvia/contents.html.

2056 World Bank, Latvia – Education Improvement Project, Project Information Document, PID7255, January 7, 1999, [cited October 28, 2002]; available from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/ WDSServlet?pcont=details&eid=000094946_99031911070478.

2057 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties: Latvia, para. 5, 47 and 48. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Latvia, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, 1584-86, Section 5 [cited January 2, 2003]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/ 2001/eur/8279.htm. See also Swedish International Development Agency, Looking Back, Thinking Forward: Fourth Annual Report on the Implementation of the Agenda for Action Adopted at the First World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden, August 28, 1996, Stockholm, 1999-2002, 132.

2058 Swedish International Development Agency, Looking Back, Thinking Forward, 132.

2059 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2001: Latvia, 1584-86, Section 5.

2060 There are no official estimates of the number of trafficking cases. However, Swiss police reported that nearly half of the registered prostitutes in one of the country's 27 cantons were Latvian. See Kamenska, "Trafficking in Women-Latvia." See also Gillian Caldwell, Steven Galster, and Nadia Steinzor, Crime and Servitude: An Exposé of the Traffic in Women for Prostitution From the Newly Independent States, Global Survival Network, 1997, 10.

2061 Swedish International Development Agency, Looking Back, Thinking Forward, 132.

2062 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1994, CRC/C/11/Add.22, prepared by Government of Latvia, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Geneva, March 22, 2000, para. 38.

2063 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Latvia, Section 6.

2064 Government of Latvia, Report of the State of Latvia on Situation after the Conference on Children. See also Constitution of Latvia, 1922, Amended 1998, (February 15, 1922), Article 112 [cited August 30, 2002]; available from http://www.oefre.unibe.ch/law/icl/lg00000_.html.

2065 World Bank, World Development Indicators for 2002 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2002.

2066 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Latvia, Section 6.

2067 Reasons reported for children not in school include family homelessness and inability of parents to provide children with clothes, school supplies and textbooks, particularly for children from families living below the poverty level. Ibid., Section 11.1.

2068 School infrastructure has severely deteriorated. Few investments have been made in teacher training. The financial burden of maintaining and improving schools has fallen heavily on municipalities rather than on the central government, which is burdening local communities with excessive costs. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties: Latvia, para. 43. See also World Bank, Latvia – Education Improvement Project.

2069 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Latvia, Section 11.1. There is a report that in 2001, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Rights of the Child found 15,000 children not in school although this number was not released to the general public. See Latvian Save the Children, Alternative Report to the United Nations of Situation in Area of Protection on the Rights of the Children in Latvia 1998-2002, 2002.

2070 Government of Latvia, Report of the State of Latvia on Situation after the Conference on Children. See also Latvian Save the Children, Alternative Report to the United Nations.

2071 The Council of Ministers approves a list of jobs that are prohibited for children under age 15. Latvia Labor Code, Amended March 17, 1992, Section 180 [cited October 28, 2002]; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/scripts/ natlexcgi.exe?lang=E. In order to enforce Article 180 of the Labor Code, a list of work where it is prohibited to employ children in age up to 15 was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in 1992. Decision No. 292 of Council of Ministers of July 24, 1992, "On Heavy Works and Works Performed Under Harmful Condition Where it is Prohibited to Employ Women and Person Under 18." See Government of Latvia, Report of the State of Latvia on Situation after the Conference on Children, 17.

2072 A State Labor Inspectorate was established by the government to monitor work conditions. If a violation of child labor laws should occur, the government agency will investigate the report and, if necessary, forward the case to state courts. Latvia Labor Code, Amended March 17, 1992, Sections 182, 84 and 86. See also U.S. Embassy – Riga, unclassified telegram no. 1381, October 2001.

2073 Constitution of Latvia, 1922, Amended 1998, Article 106.

2074 Because it is relatively new, the effectiveness of Latvia's trafficking legislation has not yet been tested. In general, fear of retribution from traffickers makes victims reluctant to testify. In addition, victims report dissatisfaction with police handling of cases, which often prevents them from seeking immediate police assistance. Article 152, which prohibits illegal deprivation of liberty, and Article 153, which prohibits kidnapping, can also be used to prosecute trafficking. See Latvia Criminal Code, Articles 152, 53 and 65 as cited in Kamenska, "Trafficking in Women-Latvia," 3, 4, 6 and 18.

2075 Kamenska, "Trafficking in Women-Latvia," 4.

2076 Latvia Criminal Code, Articles 164, 65, as cited in Kamenska, "Trafficking in Women," 5.

2077 UNESCO, EFA 2000 Report: Latvia, Section 7.

2078 ILO, Ratifications by Country, ILOLEX, [database online] [cited August 30, 2002]; available from http://ilolex.ilo.ch:1567/english/newratframeE.htm.

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