Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Eritrea

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 - Eritrea, 31 August 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48d7493233.html [accessed 21 December 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 5-14 estimated as working:Unavailable
Minimum age of work:141555
Age to which education is compulsory:Grade 71556
Free public education:Yes1557*
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2002:63%1558
Net primary enrollment rate in 2002:45%1559
Percent of children 5-14 attending school:Unavailable
As of 2001, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:86%1560
Ratified Convention 138:2/22/20001561
Ratified Convention 182:No1562
ILO-IPEC participating country:No1563
* Must pay for school supplies and related items.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Eritrea, children work on the street, in the agricultural sector, and as domestic servants.1564 Children living in rural areas often work in family businesses, including subsistence farming, and engage in such activities as fetching firewood and water, and herding livestock. Children are expected to work from about age 5 by looking after livestock and working in the fields.1565 For children working in urban areas street vending is typical, however this is not widely prevalent.1566 Many underage apprentices work in shops and workshops such as garages or metal workshops in towns.1567

Children are reportedly involved in prostitution.1568 However, specific data on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Eritrea is lacking.1569

Although the law prohibits recruitment of children under 18 into the armed forces, concerns exist regarding the training and recruiting of children for military service.1570 The government requires all secondary school students to complete their final year of education at a location adjacent to the Sawa military training facility in order to graduate, regardless of age.1571 In addition to not qualifying for graduation, students who do not attend this final year of secondary education cannot sit for examinations to be eligible for advanced education.1572 There is concern that this school is under the authority of the military; at least one official stated that the students are considered members of the armed forces.1573 According to the U.S. Department of State, students attend the Sawa military training camp and undergo military training during their final year of secondary school.1574

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Eritrean law sets the minimum age of employment and apprenticeship at 14 years.1575 Young persons between 14 and 18 may not work between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. or more than 7 hours per day.1576 Children under 18 years are not permitted to work jobs that have been specified as dangerous or unhealthy, including jobs that involve heavy lifting, contact with toxic chemicals, underground work, commercial sexual exploitation, the transport industry, dangerous machines, or exposure to electrical hazards.1577

The recruitment of children under 18 years into the armed forces is prohibited.1578 Child prostitution, pornography, and sexual exploitation are criminal offenses. Trafficking in persons is prohibited.1579

The Ministry of Labor and Human Welfare (MLHW) is responsible for enforcing child labor laws, but according to the U.S. Department of State, inspections are infrequent1580 because of the ministry's finite resources.1581 Legal remedies available to the labor ministry include criminal penalties, fines, and court orders.1582 As of 2004, the most recent year for which information is available, no labor inspection reports had referred to cases of child labor.1583

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

The Government of Eritrea is implementing a national plan of action on child labor that primarily focuses on integrating or reintegrating children with families, communities, and schools as a means of preventing or rehabilitating children engaged in child labor.1584 The MLHW works with children at-risk of entry into work by providing a small subsidy to their families to help with food and clothing, as well as counseling services to help children reintegrate into their nuclear or extended families.1585 At-risk children are also enrolled or reenrolled at local schools, and the MLHW tracks their development through local committees or ministry employees.1586 Additionally, the government provides school-aged street children with allowances to purchase uniforms and books necessary for school participation. Street children who are no longer of school age are provided with private vocational training designed to reintegrate them into the community.1587

Through state media, the government routinely provides information on its strategy and obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has focused on the issue of child labor, in particular commercial sexual exploitation, in awareness-raising campaigns for the general public.1588 Officials charged with enforcing child labor laws have received training.1589


1555 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Eritrea (ratification:2000), [online] 2004 [cited October 20, 2006]; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/index.cfm?lang=EN.

1556 U.S. Department of State, "Eritrea," 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.

1557 Ibid.

1558 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1559 UNIESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1560 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rates to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

1561 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 20, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

1562 Ibid.

1563 ILO, IPEC Action Against Child Labour: Highlights 2006, Geneva, February 2007; available from http://www.ilo.org/iloroot/public/english/standards/ipec/doc-view.cfm?id=3159.

1564 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Concluding Observations: Eritrea, CRC/C/15/Add.204, United Nations, Geneva, June 6, 2003, para 55; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CRC.C.15.Add.204.En?OpenDocument. See also ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention.

1565 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention.

1566 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Eritrea," Section 6d.

1567 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention.

1568 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Eritrea," Section 5.

1569 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports under Article 44 – Concluding Observations, para 57.

1570 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Eritrea," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004.

1571 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Eritrea," Section 5. See also Amnesty International, Eritrea: 'You Have No Right to Ask' – Government Resists Scrutiny on Human Rights, AFR 64/003/2004, Amnesty International, London, May 2004.

1572 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Eritrea," Section 5.

1573 Amnesty International, You Have No Right to Ask, 25. See also Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Global Report 2004." See also Human Rights Watch, Essential Background: Overview of Human Rights Issues in Eritrea, Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C., January 2004; available from http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/01/21/eritre6987.htm.

1574 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, September 8, 2005.

1575 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Addendum: Eritrea, CRC/C/41/Add.12, United Nations, Geneva, December 23, 2002, para 68, 422; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/8a52da90a06e49e7c1256ce000307fc9/$ FILE/G0246422.pdf. U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, September 8, 2005.

1576 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Addendum: Eritrea, para 68.

1577 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Eritrea," Section 6d.

1578 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Addendum: Eritrea, para 88.

1579 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Eritrea," Section 5.

1580 Ibid., Section 6d. See also UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention, Initial reports of States parties due in 1996: Addendum, Eritrea, CRC/C/41/Add.12, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, New York, December 23, 2002, para 422.

1581 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, September 8, 2005.

1582 Ibid.

1583 ILO Committee of Experts, Direct Request, Minimum Age Convention.

1584 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, September 8, 2005.

1585 Ibid.

1586 Ibid.

1587 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 866th Meeting (Thirty-third Session) – Consideration of Reports of States Parties (Continued), Initial Report of Eritrea (Continued), CRC/C/SR.866, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, New York, June 2, 2003, para 77. See also U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, September 8, 2005.

1588 U.S. Embassy – Asmara, reporting, September 8, 2005.

1589 Ibid.

Search Refworld

Countries