2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Venezuela

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 10-14 years (%), 2005:2,753,796
Working children, 10-14 years (%), 2005:5.4
Working boys, 10-14 years (%), 2005:7.1
Working girls, 10-14 years (%), 2005:3.6
Working children by sector, 10-14 years (%), 2005:
     – Agriculture28.3
     – Manufacturing8.0
     – Services61.1
     – Other2.6
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:15
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:106
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:92.2
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2005:94.9
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:97.8
ILO Convention 138:7/15/1987
ILO Convention 182:10/26/2005
ILO-IPEC participating country:Yes

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Venezuela, children can be found working in agriculture and small-to medium-sized businesses, scavenging in garbage dumps, and participating in gold mining. Children work in the formal and informal economic sectors. Some of them work as street vendors and store retailers. According to the Government of Venezuela Statistics Office, 142,098 children work in the agricultural sector, 14,057 in the manufacturing sector, and 36,852 in the construction sector. Minors are engaged in commercial sexual exploitation and pornography. Trafficking in children is a problem. There are reports of the trafficking of children internally and internationally for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Indigenous children are trafficked and forced to work as miners and prostitutes in illegal gold mining camps. Child prostitution in urban areas and child sex tourism in resort destinations appear to be growing.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum employment age at 14 years. However, children 12 to 14 years may be authorized to work in certain circumstances that do not compromise the health, education, or development of the child. They are prohibited from work in mining and smelting factories. Children 14 to 16 years may work in activities allowed by the law with previous legal authorization. Children 14 to 17 years may not work in any activity expressly prohibited by law or which affects their development. While children under 16 years may work up to 6 hours per day, 30 hours per week, the Labor Code allows them to work 8 hours per day if the workload is light. Children under 18 years may only work between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Children under 16 years are prohibited from working in the entertainment industry without authorization.

The law establishes that children who work must be registered in the child labor registry kept by the Council for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, a municipal agency that protects the rights of children. Minor workers are also entitled to the same rights and benefits provided to adult workers. Employers who hire minors must keep a registration, make sure the children undergo medical examinations every year, and notify authorities if they hire a minor as a domestic worker. Minors may not be paid by piece work or less than other workers for equal work. Labor Code provisions likewise apply to minors working under apprenticeships.

Employing or profiting from the employment of a minor in work for which they are physically unfit is punishable by 6 months to 2 years of imprisonment. Fines are established for violations of the registration, medical, and social security system requirements, as well as for employers that impede child labor inspections. Fines are also established for employing any minor 8 to 12 years, and employing or profiting from the employment of a child 12 to 15 years of age who does not have authorization to work. Hiring a child under 8 years is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison.

Forced labor and trafficking of persons is prohibited by law. According to the Organic Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, forced child labor is punishable by 1 to 3 years of incarceration, and prison terms for slavery and slave trafficking are 6 to 12 years. Trafficking children internationally is punishable by 2 to 6 years in prison, and fines apply for transferring a child to a third party or transporting a child without authorization. However, the Organic Law on the Right of Women to a Violence-Free Life establishes prison sentences of 15 to 25 years to any person who participates in the trafficking of women, girls, and adolescents for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, illegal adoption, or trafficking of organs directly or indirectly. Child trafficking by members of organized groups is punishable by 10 to 18 years of incarceration. Persons who promote or assist human trafficking may be punished with prison sentences ranging from 4 to 10 years. The sentence will increase by 50 percent if health, life, or integrity is endangered.

The sexual exploitation of children is prohibited and punishable by 3 to 8 years of incarceration. Inducing, supporting, or facilitating the prostitution of a minor to another party may result in 3 to 18 months of incarceration. If the crime is done repeatedly, or for profit, it is punishable by 3 to 6 years of incarceration. The punishment for using minors to commit crimes is 1 to 4 years in prison.

The law prohibits child pornography and penalizes it through fines and prison sentences of between 3 months and 4 years. However, producing or selling child pornography by organized criminal groups may result in prison terms of 16 to 20 years. Using any form of information technology to depict child pornography is punishable by 4 to 8 years of incarceration and fines, with penalties increased under certain circumstances.

Punishments of 2 to 6 years of incarceration are established for the recruitment of minors into criminal organizations, with the prison sentence ranging from 4 to 8 years if the perpetrator is an authority figure.

The minimum recruitment age for the Government Armed Forces is 18 years. Secondary students are required to complete 2 years of pre-military instruction.

USDOS reports that the Ministry of Labor and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (INPSASEL) enforced child labor laws effectively in the formal sector, but less effectively in the informal sector. INPSASEL provides training to labor inspectors on child labor. State and local Councils on the Rights of Children and Adolescents, the local Councils for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, Courts for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, and the Children's and Adolescents' Ombudsmen make up the System for the Protection of the Child and Adolescent, which is responsible for defending the rights of children. There is no information available on the number of trafficking investigations, or convictions, or sentences for the trafficking of children.

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

In 2008, the Government of Venezuela launched a program, Neighborhood Children Mission, which aims to protect the rights of children and provide services to vulnerable and poor children. The program, in Phase I, will offer services to 3,600 vulnerable children, including street children, working children, and children at risk of working. In Phase II, the program will provide educational, sports, and cultural activities to poor children.

The Venezuelan Government participates in a 4-year USD 3.3 million regional initiative to combat child labor in South America, funded by the Government of Spain and implemented by ILOIPEC. The Government of Venezuela continued to raise awareness of commercial sexual exploitation of children, forced child labor, and child sex tourism. The Government is implementing a National Plan of Action against Sexual Abuse and Commercial Sexual Exploitation. However, research did not uncover information about the current activities carried out under this program.

The Government of Venezuela and the government members and associates of MERCOSUR are carrying out the Niño Sur (Southern Child) initiative to defend the rights of children and adolescents in the region. The initiative aims to raise awareness of commercial sexual exploitation, improve country legal frameworks, and exchange best practices to tackle issues related to victim protection and assistance. The Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism is part of the Joint Group for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism, which conducts prevention and awareness-raising campaigns to combat the commercial exploitation of children in Latin America. Created in 2005, it includes the Ministries of Tourism of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Uruguay.

During the reporting period, the Government of Venezuela trained public officials on anti-trafficking efforts and operated a national hotline to receive trafficking complaints. It conducted a campaign to raise public awareness of the dangers of human trafficking and encourage trafficking victims to both denounce traffickers and utilize services available to victims provided by NGOs. The Government also supported anti-trafficking activities implemented by NGOs and international organizations. UNODC provided anti-trafficking training to government officials.


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