2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Suriname

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:14
Compulsory education age:12
Free public education:Yes*
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:118.7
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:94.1
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%):
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:79.7
ILO Convention 138:No
ILO Convention 182:4/12/2006
ILO-IPEC participating country:Associated

* In practice, must pay for various school expenses

** Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Children in Suriname work in the informal sector in rural and urban areas. They work in gold mines and the informal urban sector. Maroon children, particularly boys, are often engaged in exploitive labor. Children have been found in the commercial sex industry and trafficking of minors is a problem. There are reports of children being trafficked internally and internationally. Some minors are trafficked into the sex trade associated with gold mining camps. The Government of Suriname acknowledges the lack of information available on the incidence and nature of child labor in Suriname.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 14 years. However, children 12 to 14 years may work in family or special vocational settings if the work is not too physically or mentally demanding or hazardous. Children under 15 years are prohibited from working on fishing boats. Children under 18 years are prohibited from night work, which is defined as the hours between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and hazardous work, which is defined as work that endangers life, health, and decency, or as determined by the Minister of Labor. Employers are required to maintain a Register of Young Persons that includes each employee's name, address, date of birth, and the occupational starting and ending dates. Employing a child under 14 years is punishable by fines and up to 12 months in prison. Parents who permit their children to work in violation of child labor laws may be prosecuted.

The law prohibits forced labor, trafficking in persons, slavery, and practices similar to slavery. Trafficking in persons, including for the purpose of sexual exploitation, is punishable with 5 to 20 years of imprisonment. The penalty for trafficking of minors under 16 years ranges from 10 to 20 years of incarceration. The Attorney General's Office may press dual charges against a trafficker for human trafficking and rape. Exploiting a child for the purpose of prostitution is punishable with 6 to 20 years of incarceration. Child pornography is punishable with 2 years of imprisonment. Brothel operation is illegal, but the law is not enforced.

Military service is not compulsory. Research has been inconclusive regarding the minimum age for voluntary recruitment into the Armed Forces. The ILO Committee of Experts has requested the Government to provide information on the minimum age for enlistment.

The Ministry of Labor's Department of Labor Inspections implements and enforces labor laws, including child labor laws, through its 40 inspectors. Labor inspectors and police officers investigate allegations of child labor. USDOS reports that both Government action and resources need to increase in order to expand beyond urban areas and into the hinterland. The laws consider the worst forms of child labor to be crimes, and as such, they are enforced by the Ministry of Justice and Police, in conjunction with the Youth Police Department. The Youth Police are authorized to remove children from the worst forms of child labor and prosecute offenders. The police conduct investigations and raids, including random checks of brothels, to ensure that minors are not working on those premises. The Trafficking in Persons Unit of the Police Department has conducted checks on known prostitution locations and has rescued victims of trafficking, including children.

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

During the reporting period, the Government continued to make up a working group on child labor, which consists of representatives from the Ministries of Labor, Social Affairs, and Education as well as representatives from labor unions, the private sector, and NGOs. The Government supports vocational programs for children who are no longer in school. The Minister of Labor, the Youth Affairs Section of the Police Force, and the Commission for Child Rights continue to conduct awareness-raising campaigns to combat child labor.

The Government of Suriname continues to combat trafficking in persons through the Anti-trafficking Working Group, which coordinates government efforts to address human trafficking, including the trafficking of children. The Working Group is composed of the Attorney General's Office, the Ministries of Justice, Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Home Affairs, and NGOs. The Government has made available a hotline for children and youth to discuss youth-related issues, including trafficking.

The Government of Suriname participated in Phase II of a 5-year USD 750,000 regional project to combat the worst forms of child labor in the Caribbean, funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by ILO-IPEC. It also took part in a regional initiative to raise awareness of trafficking in persons, funded by USDOS and implemented by IOM. The Police Anti-trafficking Unit participated in training conducted by the Government of the Netherlands on human trafficking.

The Ministry of Transport, Communication, and Tourism is part of the Joint Group for the Elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Tourism, which conducts awareness-raising campaigns to combat the commercial exploitation of children in Latin America. It was created in 2005 and includes the Ministries of Tourism of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.


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