Cablegate: (Un) Request for Update of Worst Forms of Child
DE RUEHLP #1111/01 1101835
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201835Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3304
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS LA PAZ 001111
PLEASE PASS TO DOL, TINA MCCARTER, SHARON HELLER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BL
SUBJECT: (UN) REQUEST FOR UPDATE OF WORST FORMS OF CHILD
LABOR INFORMATION FOR MANDATORY REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
REF: STATE 184972
1. Laws and regulations proscribing the worst forms of child
a) What laws and regulations have been promulgated on child
labor, such as minimum age(s) for employment or hazardous
forms of work?
The minimum age for child labor is 14. Under President
Morales, the Government of Bolivia established age 18 as the
minimum age for children to participate in the most hazardous
forms of child labor. The policy framework for child labor
is the National Plan for Progressive Eradication of Child
Labor, 2000-2010. The policy framework was amended in 2006
to establish a more comprehensive policy on child labor, draw
attention to the issue of child exploitation, and called for
the formation of subcommittees on the worst forms of child
b) If there is a minimum age for employment, is that age
consistent with the age for completing educational
requirements? Are there exceptions to the minimum age law?
The minimum age for employment is 14 and that age is
consistent with the age for completing educational
requirements. The exception to the minimum age law is that
Bolivia does not provide a minimum age for apprenticeships.
c) Do the country's laws define the worst forms of child
labor or hazardous work as the ILO defines those terms?
Bolivia defines the worst forms of child labor in very
general terms, for example, working underground, trafficking
in children, carrying excessively heavy loads, and working
with chemicals. President Morales proposed a law defining
the most hazardous forms of child labor, which include
mining, working in sugar cane fields, cultivating Brazil
nuts, and sexual exploitation, but the law has not yet been
ratified by the Congress.
d) If the country has ratified Convention 182, has it
developed a list of occupations considered to be worst forms
of child labor, as called for in article 4 of the Convention?
Bolivia has ratified Convention 182. The GOB has developed a
list of the worst forms of child labor but the list is
currently with the commission and has not yet been ratified
by the Congress.
2. Regulations for implementation and enforcement of
proscriptions against the worst forms of child labor.
a) Has the government designated an authority to implement
and enforce child labor laws?
The Ministry of Labor is the designated authority to
implement and enforce child labor laws.
b) What legal remedies are available to government agencies
that enforce child labor laws (criminal penalties, civil
fines, court orders), and are they adequate to punish and
The Ministry of Labor has the authority to enforce child
labor laws and inform local authorities of any child labor
violations. The municipal governments conduct child labor
investigations, but in reality, they have very few resources
to follow through with investigations. In areas such as
Potosi, where mining plays a vital role in the economy, the
municipal government has little authority to deter families
from sending their children to work in the mines.
c) To what extent are complaints investigated and violations
Child labor laws are generally not effectively enforced nor
are violations adequately investigated in most areas of
Bolivia due to resource constraints and/or a lack of will by
d) What level of resources does the government devote to
investigating child labor cases throughout the country?
Under President Morales, the government has placed an
increased emphasis on the issue of child labor. The GOB has
raised the country's level of awareness of the hazards of
child labor and has involved almost all government ministries
in activities concerning the oversight and prevention of
child labor, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of
Health, Ministry of Planning, and Ministry of Mining. While
the issue of child labor is more of a priority for the
current government, there are still few concrete resources
dedicated to child labor investigations.
e) How many inspectors does the government employ to address
child labor issues?
The government employs about 15 inspectors throughout the
f) How many child labor investigations have been conducted
over the past year? How many have resulted if fines,
penalties, or convictions?
While the exact number of child labor investigations over the
past year is unclear, in general, there have been very few
investigations. Even fewer have resulted in fines,
penalties, or convictions. The government has authorized a
National Commission to investigate the child labor situation
in Bolivia, but the investigation has not yet been conducted.
g) Has the government provided awareness raising and/or
training activities for officials charged with enforcing
child labor laws?
The government implemented an awareness campaign in airports
and around border areas to prevent trafficking in children.
The government works with multilateral and non-governmental
organizations such as CARE, UNICEF, the International Labor
Organization, the International Office on Migration, among
others, to promote awareness about child labor issues.
3. Whether there are social programs to prevent and withdraw
children from the worst forms of child labor.
a) What initiatives has the government supported to prevent
children from entering exploitative work situations, to
withdraw children engaged in child labor, and to advocate on
behalf of children involved in such employment and their
A new initiative under President Morales is the "Juancito
Pinto" program, a cash payment program conditioned upon
school attendance. Under the Juancito Pinto program, the GOB
provides a disbursement of 100 bolivianos to families with
school-age children at the beginning of the school year, and
another 100 bolivianos if the child completes the school
term. (Note: 100 bolivianos is equivalent to about USD
$12.50. End note). This new initiative promotes access to
education while at the same time helps to prevent children
from entering work situations.
A three-year subplan to combat child labor was adopted in
2005, and several improvements have been made to the plan.
Under the auspices of the National Development Plan, the GOB
has adopted a subcommittee for the protection of children,
which is working to lay out specific laws.
The Ministry of Labor worked with UNICEF to publish books for
children and their families describing child labor laws and
individual rights for those working in sugar cane fields.
b) Does the government support programs to promote children's
access to school and to enhance the quality and relevance of
The government supports programs to promote access to
schooling and to enhance the quality of education. The most
significant measure taken by the current government was the
implementation of the "Juancito Pinto" program. The GOB is
working with international organizations to promote
education. For example, UNICEF has a program in Bolivia to
provide birth registration and identification cards to
children in order to facilitate access to schooling. The
World Bank also provides funding for educational programs.
The Morales government has stated that education is a
priority, but it has few resources, outside of international
donations, to improve the quality of public education.
c) Does the government provide support to vocational programs
for older children that can serve as an alternative to work?
The government supports vocational programs through the
assistance of international organizations and foreign
assistance, including the U.S. Department of Labor.
d) Do the country's laws/regulations call for universal or
compulsory education? Are these requirements enforced?
Bolivia's laws call for compulsory education for ages 6 to
13, but these requirements are rarely enforced.
e) Is education free or are fees charged for attendance,
books, supplies, or transportation?
Public education is free, but fees are charged for books,
supplies, and transportation. Bolivia has a free breakfast
program for primary school children in several
municipalities, which has helped to increase school
4. Does the country have a comprehensive policy aimed at the
elimination of the worst forms of child labor?
a) Does the country have a comprehensive policy or national
program of action on child labor? If so, to what degree has
the country implemented the policy and/or program of action
and achieved its goals and objectives?
Yes, the National Plan for Progressive Eradication of Child
Labor, 2000-2010. The plan was amended and improved in 2006.
b) Has the government made a public statement/commitment to
eradicate the worst forms of child labor?
The issue of child labor is more of a priority for the
current government than for past recent governments. The
government addresses and discusses the issue, but the laws
have not changed significantly. The Morales government
considers child labor to be a social problem, and there is
better differentiation between the issues of child labor and
child exploitation, which the government considers to be
unacceptable. The government has made some progress by
proposing a law which identifies the worst forms of child
labor, but the specifics of the law have yet to be decided
and ratified by Congress.
5. Is the country making continual progress toward
eliminating the worst forms of child labor?
a) What is the child labor situation in the country, and how
has it changed over the past year?
While there is more awareness about the issues of child
exploitation and child labor, the situation has not changed
significantly over the past year. Child labor in the areas
of mining, sugar cane, Brazil nut, and sexual exploitation
continue to be a significant problem.