2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - São Tomé and Príncipe

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:40,435
Working children, 5-14 years (%), 2000:15.4
Working boys, 5-14 years (%), 2000:17.2
Working girls, 5-14 years (%), 2000:13.5
Working children by sector, 5-14 years (%):
     – Agriculture
     – Manufacturing
     – Services
     – Other
Minimum age for work:14
Compulsory education age:13
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2008:130.4
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2008:97.1
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2000:68.8
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2007:78.9
ILO Convention 138:5/4/2005
ILO Convention 182:5/4/2005
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in São Tomé and Príncipe work on plantations and in subsistence agriculture, informal commerce, and domestic service. The Government has indicated that commercial sexual exploitation of children occurs in the country.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The minimum age for work in São Tomé and Príncipe is 14 years. The law prohibits children under 18 years from working in unhealthy or dangerous conditions, as well as from working underground. Children may not work more than 7 hours a day and 35 hours per week. The law also prohibits minors from working at night, but government authorities may grant permission for those 16 and above to work at night in exceptional cases. Minors are likewise generally prohibited from engaging in "extraordinary" work beyond normal working hours, except in cases such as force majeure. The law calls for the imposition of fines for violations of provisions regarding the minimum age for both work and hazardous work.

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor. The law also prohibits trafficking in persons. The law prohibits the incitement of minors under 16 to debauchery, including prostitution, and provides for imprisonment for violations. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has noted, however, that under the country's laws, children involved in prostitution are considered to be criminals, rather than victims.

Military service is compulsory at 18 years; voluntary service may begin at 17 years with parental consent.

São Tomé and Príncipe was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions. As part of the regional Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Government agreed to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders; to rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to assist fellow signatory countries to implement these measures under the Agreement.

The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child labor laws. As of March 2009, the Ministry employed five labor inspectors. No cases of child labor law violations were prosecuted during 2008.

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

The Government of São Tomé and Príncipe operates shelters for street children where they are provided with education and training.


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