2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Trinidad and Tobago

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Percent of children 5-14 estimated as working in 2000:3.5%4134
Minimum age for admission to work:164135
Age to which education is compulsory:124136
Free public education:Yes4137
Gross primary enrollment rate in 2004:102%4138
Net primary enrollment rate in 2004:92%4139
Percent of children 5-14 attending school in 2000:97%4140
As of 2003, percent of primary school entrants likely to reach grade 5:100%4141
Ratified Convention 138:9/3/20044142
Ratified Convention 182:4/23/20034143
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes, associated4144

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Trinidad and Tobago are reported to work in agriculture, scavenging, loading and stocking goods, gardening, car repair, car washing, construction, fishing, and begging.4145 Children also work as handymen, shop assistants, cosmetologist assistants, domestic servants, and street vendors.4146 These activities are usually reported as being part of family business.4147 Children are also reported to be victims of commercial sexual exploitation.4148

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment in public or private industries at 16. However, children 14 to 16 may work in activities in which only family members are employed or that have been approved as vocational or technical training by the Minister of Education.4149 Children under 18 are prohibited from working between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except in a family enterprise or within other limited exceptions.4150 One such exception enables children 16 to 18 to work at night in sugar factories.4151 Violation of these regulations is subject to fines.4152

The law prohibits the procurement of minors under 16 for prostitution or sexual offenses with penalties of imprisonment up to 15 years.4153 Procurement is considered an offense whether committed in Trinidad and Tobago or elsewhere.4154 The operation of a brothel is punishable by imprisonment for 5 years,4155 and exploiting minors under 16 for commercial sexual purposes in a brothel is subject to imprisonment for 10 years.4156 Any person responsible for a girl younger than 16 who causes or encourages commercial sexual exploitation of the minor is subject to imprisonment for 2 years.4157 There is no compulsory military service in Trinidad & Tobago, and the minimum age for voluntary military service is 16.4158

The Ministry of Labor and Small and Micro-Enterprise Development and the Ministry of Social Development are currently responsible for enforcing child labor provisions.4159 Labor inspectors have the authority to enter, inspect, and examine at all reasonable hours any premises when there is reasonable cause to believe that violations are taking place.4160 Laws concerning the worst forms of child labor, traditionally considered to be crimes, are enforced by the Police Service.4161 According to the U.S. Department of State, enforcement of child labor laws is weak because there is no comprehensive government policy on child labor and there are no established mechanisms for receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints.4162 In general, the government's capacity to carry out its commitment to protect the rights and welfare of children is limited by lack of funds and expanding social needs.4163

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

In August 2006, the Ministry of Social Development published the Revised National Plan of Action for Children, which includes specific goals for combating commercial sexual exploitation of children and exploitive child labor.4164 The National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor, with the advice and support of the ILO, is participating in a project to withdraw and rehabilitate child laborers at two landfill sites in Trinidad and Tobago.4165


4134 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates, October 7, 2005.

4135 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 27, 2007. See also Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Miscellaneous Provisions Act, No.11 of 2006, Fifth session, Eighth Parliament (2006).

4136 U.S. Department of State, "Trinidad and Tobago," 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/2005/61743.htm.

4137 Ibid.

4138 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Gross Enrolment Ratio. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

4139 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Net Enrolment Rate. Primary. Total, accessed December 20, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

4140 UCW analysis of ILO SIMPOC, UNICEF MICS, and World Bank surveys, Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Rates.

4141 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Survival Rate to Grade 5. Total, accessed December 18, 2006; available from http://stats.uis.unesco.org/.

4142 ILO, Ratifications by Country, accessed October 18, 2006; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

4143 Ibid.

4144 ILO, Alphabetical List of ILO Member Countries, [online] October 5, 2006 [cited October 18, 2006]; available from http://www.oit.org/public/english/standards/relm/country.htm.

4145 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, reporting, August 24, 2004.

4146 Ibid.

4147 Ibid.

4148 Government of Trinidad and Tobago, National Plan of Action on Children, Port of Spain, 2006.

4149 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain official, E-mail communication to USDOL official, March 27, 2007. See also Right to Education, Constitutional Guarantees: Trinidad and Tobago, [online] [cited July 5, 2006]; available from http://www.right-to-education.org/content/age/trin_and_tob.html. See also Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Trinidad and Tobago – A Guide to Legislative Reform, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, June 2005, 26.

4150 Right to Education, Constitutional Guarantees: Trinidad and Tobago. See also U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Trinidad and Tobago," Section 6d.

4151 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Trinidad and Tobago," Section 6d.

4152 Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Trinidad and Tobago – a Guide to Legislative Reform, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean, June 2005, 35.

4153 Interpol, Legislation on Sexual Offences Against Children, [online] [cited October 22, 2006]; available from http://www.interpol.int/Public/Children/SexualAbuse/NationalLaws/csaTri….

4154 The Protection Project, "Trinidad and Tobago," in 2005 Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, 2005; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/trinidad.doc.

4155 Interpol, Legislation on Sexual Offences Against Children.

4156 The Protection Project, "Trinidad and Tobago."

4157 Ibid.

4158 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, "Trinidad and Tobago," in Child Soldiers Global Report 2004, London, 2004; available from http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=838. See also, Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, 32.

4159 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Trinidad and Tobago," Section 6d.

4160 Clive Pegus, A Review of Child Labour Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, 37.

4161 Ibid., 40.

4162 U.S. Department of State, "Country Reports – 2006: Trinidad and Tobago," Section 6d.

4163 Ibid., Section 5.

4164 Government of Trinidad and Tobago, National Plan of Action on Children.

4165 U.S. Embassy – Port of Spain, reporting, August 26, 2005.

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