2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Gabon

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138 
Ratified Convention 182     3/28/2001
National Plan for Children 
National Child Labor Action Plan
Sector Action Plan (Child Trafficking)

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Gabon are unavailable.1849 Children are trafficked into the country from Benin, Guinea, Nigeria, and Togo, mostly to work in Libreville.1850 Trafficked boys are subjected to forced labor in small workshops and as street vendors.1851 Children from Benin and Togo, particularly girls, are found working as domestic servants and in the informal commercial sector, including in roadside restaurants and market vending.1852 There are reports of children who are trafficked to Gabon for domestic labor and are then sexually abused and exploited in prostitution when they escape from their employers.1853 Nigerian children are found working as mechanics. In general, trafficked children worked long hours for no pay and were subject to physical abuse.1854 Children who are purchased in Benin, Togo and Mali may be sold to commercial farms in Gabon and Côte d'Ivoire.1855

Education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 16 years under the Education Act,1856 but prohibitive costs for items such as books, uniforms, and school supplies prevent many from attending school.1857 The government has used oil revenue for school construction, paying teachers' salaries, and promoting education, including in rural areas. However, maintenance of school structures, as well as teachers' salaries, has been declining.1858 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 132 percent, and, in 2000, the most recent year for which data are available, the net primary enrollment rate was 78 percent.1859 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Primary school attendance statistics are not available for Gabon.1860 As of 2001, 69 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.1861 Problems in the education system include poor management and planning, lack of oversight, a shortage of teaching material, poorly qualified teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and a curriculum that is not always relevant to students' needs.1862

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code prohibits children below 16 years from working without the consent of the Ministries of Labor, Education, and Public Health. Children between 14 and 16 years may work as apprentices with permission from the Ministry of National Education.1863 The employment of children in jobs that are unsuitable for them due to their age, state, or condition, or that interfere with their education is also prohibited. According to Decree No. 31/PR/MTEFP of January 8, 2002, children under 16 years who have been removed from exploitative labor must be placed in appropriate reception or transit centers, and trafficked children must be repatriated to their country of origin at the expense of their employer or guardian.1864 Children under 18 years are prohibited from working at night in industrial establishments, except in family enterprises.1865 The minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the military is 20 years.1866

Although there is no law specifically prohibiting the worst forms of child labor in Gabon, there are statutes under which the worst forms can be prosecuted. The Labor Code imposes fines and prison sentences for violations of minimum age laws.1867 Forced labor is forbidden by the Labor Code.1868 The Penal Code prohibits procurement of a minor for the purpose of prostitution, which is punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 5 years and a fine of 100,000 to 2,000,000 CFA francs (approximately USD 184 to 3,683).1869 Since 1999, the Government of Gabon has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.1870

In September 2004, the Government of Gabon passed comprehensive legislation to prevent and combat child trafficking in Gabon.1871 The law outlines measures to protect children under 18 years from trafficking and stipulates fines of CFA 10 million to 20 million CFA francs (approximately USD 18,414 to USD 36,828) and imprisonment of 5 to 15 years for perpetrators. An inter-ministerial council housed within the ministry responsible for human rights is charged with enforcement of the law.1872 Following passage of the law, 26 alleged child traffickers were arrested in January and March 2005, representing the country's first trafficking arrests. The intercepted children, from Benin, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo, were placed in resettlement centers.1873 The Penal Code also prohibits child trafficking, along with forced labor, slavery, abduction, and pimping.1874 The National Police and Gendarmes enforce strict passport and visa requirements at the airport so that children without proper documentation may not enter the country,1875 but many trafficking victims are transported to Gabon by boat or over land.1876

Minimum age laws were strictly enforced in urban areas for the protection of Gabonese children, but rarely were in rural areas.1877 Although the Labor Code is intended to cover all children, abuses involving foreign-born children were rarely reported.1878 The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the enforcement of child labor laws, while the Ministry of Labor is charged with receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints. However, the U.S. Department of State reported that the number of labor inspectors was inadequate, complaints were not routinely investigated, and violations were not effectively addressed.1879

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

The government has undertaken several measures to raise awareness of trafficking issues and the new anti-trafficking law, including the organization of town hall meetings by the Ministry of Justice, extensive coverage of trafficking stories by the government-controlled media, and placement of anti-trafficking posters in government-run schools and other public venues by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.1880

The government has also established a National Programme of Action to combat child trafficking and a National Plan to Fight against Child Labor.1881

The Government of Gabon participates in a regional USDOL-funded ILO-IPEC project to combat the trafficking of children for exploitative labor in West and Central Africa.1882 UNICEF has worked to raise awareness on child trafficking through workshops and seminars, radio and television messages, and posters.1883 The government, in collaboration with UNICEF, operates a toll-free hotline for child trafficking victims. The call center provides trafficking victims with free transportation to a shelter. The government also funds and operates a shelter for trafficking victims that provides educational, medical and psychological services,1884 and has created a regional law enforcement hub to share information on trafficking in persons.1885 The government has an inter-ministerial committee to combat trafficking in persons, but reports indicate that the committee's progress has stalled.1886

The government has adopted a National Plan of Action for Education for All to improve access and quality of education, and a subsequent plan to reduce repetition rates, particularly among girls.1887

1849 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

1850 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington, DC, June 3, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2005/46613.htm.

1851 Ibid.

1852 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Gabon, Washington, DC, February 28, 2005, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41604.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

1853 ECPAT International, Gabon, in ECPAT International, [database online] n.d. [cited June 15, 2005]; available from http://www.ecpat.net/eng/Ecpat_inter/projects/monitoring/online_databas… =facts,affiliation,humanrights&CSEC=Overview,Prostitution,Pronography,trafficking&Implement=Coordination_cooperation,Pr evention,Protection,Recovery,ChildParticipation&Nationalplans=National_plans_of_action&orgWorkCSEC=orgWorkCSEC&Dis playBy=optDisplayCountry. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "GABON: Laws fail to curb child trafficking racket", IRINnews.org, [online], February 4, 2005 [cited June 9, 2005]; available from http://irinnews.org/print.asp?ReportID=45400.

1854 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 5. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

1855 UN Wire, Ship Carrying 250 Children Forced to Return to Benin, United Nations Foundation, [online] April 13, 2001 [cited June 29, 2005]; available from http://www.unwire.org/unwire/20010413/14230_story.asp.

1856 United Nations, Gabon Presents Initial Report to Committee on Rights of Child, press release, January 17, 2002; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/537A47397C7C5527C1256…. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 5.

1857 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 5.

1858 Ibid.

1859 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stat.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrolment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rates in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

1860 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used.

1861 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

1862 In the capital city, Libreville, classes average 100 students in size, and rural classes average about 40 students. Many rural schools are poorly built and lack furniture and educational material. Sixteen percent of school children have only one teacher for all six primary years, and some schools have no teacher at all. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties due in 1996, Addendum: Gabon, CRC/C/41/Add.10, prepared by Government of Gabon, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, July 13, 2001, paras. 216, 217.

1863 Government of Gabon, Code du travail, Loi no 3/94, (November 21, 1994), Articles 82, 177; available from http://natlex.ilo.org/txt/F94GAB01.htm.

1864 Ibid., Article 6. See also ILO, The effective abolition of child labour, 2003, 72; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/decl/download/review03/chil….

1865 Children over 16 years can work in certain industries that, by their nature, must be continued at night. See Code du travail, Articles 167, 168.

1866 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, November 17, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=774.

1867 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 6d.

1868 Code du travail, Article 4.

1869 Government of Gabon, Penal Code, Articles 260, 261; available from Currency conversion at FX Converter, [online] [cited June 29, 2005]; available from http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.

1870 ILO-IPEC, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

1871 Government of Gabon, Loi n° 9/2004 du 21 septembre 2004 relative à la prévention et à la lutte contre le trafic des enfants en République gabonaise, (September 21, 2004).

1872 Ibid., Articles 5, 6, 10, 20. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report. Currency conversion at FX Converter.

1873 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report. See also ILO-IPEC, Combating the trafficking in children for labour exploitation in West and Central Africa (LUTRENA), TPR, technical progress report, Geneva, March 1, 2005, 3. See also Integrated Regional Information Networks, "GABON: Laws fail to curb child trafficking racket."

1874 CEACR, Observation, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Gabon (ratification: 2001), Geneva, 2004; available from http://webfusion.ilo.org/public/db/standards/normes/appl/index.cfm?lang…. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

1875 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

1876 ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, National & Cross-Border Trafficking Routes in West and Central Africa, 4th ed., March 2005, (map). See also Human Rights Watch, Borderline Slavery: Child Trafficking in Togo, 15 no. 8(A), April 2003, 19-20.

1877 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 6d.

1878 Ibid.

1879 Ibid.

1880 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

1881 ILO-IPEC, LUTRENA, March 2005 technical progress report, 3. See also ECPAT International, Gabon.

1882 The regional child trafficking project covers Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Mali, and Togo. The project began in July 2001 and is scheduled for completion in June 2007. See International Child Labor Program U.S. Department of Labor, Combating Trafficking in Children for Labor Exploitation in West and Central Africa, Phases 1 & 2 (LUTRENA), Project Summary, 2004.

1883 UNICEF, At a glance: Gabon, in UNICEF, [online] [cited June 29, 2005]; available from http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/gabon.html.

1884 U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 5.

1885 The government has allocated office space, furniture, and staff for the operation of the hub. See U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report.

1886 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2004: Gabon, Section 5.

1887 UNICEF, At a glance: Gabon. See also République Gabonaise, Plan d'Action National: Education Pour Tous, Libreville, November 2002, 41; available from http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/file_download.php/48c38af33442391….


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