Last Updated: Thursday, 02 December 2021, 11:16 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Congo, Republic of the

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Congo, Republic of the, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 7 December 2021]
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
Population, children, 5-14 years:
Working children, 5-14 years (%):
Working boys, 5-14 years (%):
Working girls, 5-14 years (%):
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:16
Compulsory education age:16
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:105.9
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2006:54.7
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2002:66.3
ILO Convention 138:11/26/1999
ILO Convention 182:8/23/2002
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In the Republic of the Congo, children work in agriculture, subsistence farming, and the informal sector. In Brazzaville and other urban centers, street children, many of whom come from neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), engage in begging and selling goods in the streets, as well as cleaning sewers and latrines. Children also work in domestic service, fishing, and shops; and as street vendors. Children, including trafficking victims from the DRC, are involved in commercial sexual exploitation. Children from Benin are trafficked to Pointe-Noire for forced labor in fishing, trading, and domestic service in communities near the ports. Children from rural areas of the Republic of the Congo, especially from the Pool region, and those from West and Central Africa, including Benin, Cameroon, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, and Togo, are trafficked for forced labor as vendors and domestic servants.

There have been reports of the presence of young ex-combatants in the Pool region, although it is not clear whether children remain involved in armed conflict since the country's civil conflict formally ended in 2003. According to USDOS, children have not been seen in the region's encampments in the past several years.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment, including apprenticeships, at 16 years. Waivers for employment and apprenticeships may be provided by the Ministry of Education upon consultation with the Labor Inspector, following an examination of the type of the work and its legality. However, children working, including those working as apprentices, are not allowed to work beyond their physical capacity and must be provided with, among other things, daily rest and safety, protection, and treatment of injuries. The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, though there are exceptions for military service, natural disasters, and other civic duties. The minimum age of enlistment for service in the armed forces in the Republic of the Congo is 18 years.

The law criminalizes prostitution, including child prostitution. It also establishes a penalty of 10 years of imprisonment if such an act is committed with respect to a minor. There is no law specifically prohibiting child trafficking; however, traffickers can be prosecuted for child abuse, forced labor, illegal immigration, prostitution, rape, extortion, slavery, and kidnapping. According to USDOS, there have been no investigations, arrests, prosecutions, extraditions, or sentences under these laws.

The Ministry of Health has the authority to undertake anti-trafficking efforts. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws and monitors the formal sector; however, according to USDOS, regular inspections for child labor were not possible because of resource constraints. Children work in rural areas of the Republic of the Congo and the informal sector, including on farms and in small businesses, but there is a lack of government monitoring and enforcement of laws in these areas.

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

The Local Plan of Action has been implemented in Pointe Noire by the Government and UNICEF. The Government established a working group comprised of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UNICEF, members of West and Central African consulates, police and law enforcement, and community leaders to provide a "train the trainer" workshop on trafficking.

The Government of the Republic of the Congo and UNICEF held trafficking awareness workshops for members of various government agencies, as well as the consulates of Benin, Togo, and DRC. The Government also raised awareness on child trafficking through street banners and repatriated children to their countries of origin.

The Government of the Republic of the Congo partnered with the UNDP to implement a USD 3.8 million project funded by the Governments of Sweden and Japan, focused on the socioeconomic reintegration of at-risk youth, including ex-child combatants. The project ended in March 2008, reaching 10,578 youth. A second phase has been developed. As part of the second phase, the Government and the UNDP are also implementing activities targeting girls and young women impacted by the conflict.

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