Cablegate: Rwanda - Report On Worst Forms of Child Labor


DE RUEHLGB #1095/01 3340948
P 300948Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Post submits the following information for the 2007
Report on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The Government of
Rwanda (GOR) continues to make progress in its efforts to
implement its international commitments to eliminate the
worst forms of child labor. Programs and policies described
in the 2006 report are still ongoing, with significant
updates outlined below. Despite the challenges of child
labor and the extreme poverty that is one of the problem's
underlying causes, the GOR has made addressing the issue a
national priority.

2. (U) Requested information is keyed to reftel.

A) In July, the GOR adopted a strategic plan to implement its
National Policy for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children,
which includes strategies to combat child labor. Both a
draft penal code that includes prohibitions against child
exploitation and a draft law on child trafficking went before
Parliament in the spring of this year and are now under
consideration by requisite parliamentary committees. On the
local level, some districts established and began to
implement bylaws preventing child labor, and child labor
reduction benchmarks have been integrated into district
performance contracts. (Note: President Paul Kagame
personally signs performance contracts with each district
mayor, and each is evaluated on his or her district's yearly
performance. End note.)

B) The Ministry of Public Service, Skills Development and
Labor (MIFOTRA) employed labor inspectors in Rwanda's 30
districts (one inspector per district). Inspectors received
training on child labor issues from NGOs including UNICEF and
"Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia Together" (KURET), and
continued to issue warnings and levy fines against those
illegally employing children.

NGOs provided local government child development committees
with training on monitoring child labor and sensitized
parents and children on child labor issues through these
committees. School-based programs included teacher training
on child labor monitoring and counseling and the formation of
student clubs to raise awareness of social issues including
child labor and HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF gave 300 members of the Rwandan National Police
training on child protection procedures, in addition to
standard government training they receive on child and family
protection and gender-based violence.

C) The GOR continued its collaboration with KURET to withdraw
or prevent children from exploitive labor through the
provision of training and prevention services. Joint efforts
between the GOR and NGOs directed toward street children
included prevention, rehabilitation, and reintegration
programs. In conjunction with NGOs, the GOR worked to
develop a child poverty profile to determine which vulnerable
children would have access to a social support package
including health, educational, justice, and psychosocial

The GOR continued to support a demobilization and
reintegration program for combatants, including children.
During the year, 50 children who had served as soldiers in
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) received care and
reintegration preparation from the Muhazi demobilization
center for children in the Eastern Province. There were some
reports of a DRC-based armed group recruiting children in
refugee camps to be used as combatants or forced laborers.
The GOR sent counselors to these camps to educate refugee
populations on the dangers of child soldiering and to urge
them to report and cease recruitment efforts.

D) The National Advisory Committee on Child Labor (comprised
of Ministries of Gender and Family Promotion, Education, and
Labor; the National Commission on Human Rights; the national
police; trade unions; and NGOs) met regularly to provide
guidance and technical assistance to the GOR on child labor
issues and to develop a national child labor policy. As part
of MIFOTRA's five-year action plan addressing the problem of
child labor, a survey on the extent, details, and causes of
child labor in Rwanda was developed jointly by MIFOTRA, the
Rwandan Bureau of Statistics, ILO/IPEC and several NGOs, and
will be implemented in 5000 households in the coming months.
The development of a national child labor monitoring system
is another goal of the plan.

The GOR Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy,
adopted in November, specifically prioritizes the elimination
of child labor in its public sector capacity and employment
promotion component.

Education is compulsory through primary school or until age
13. While primary school fees were abolished, most parents
still had to pay unofficial fees to support basic school
operations. However, children were not dismissed from school
for their parents' failure to pay such fees. A survivors'
fund assisted with the secondary school fees for school-age
genocide survivors.

According to the Ministry of Education, 92.4 percent of
primary school-age children were enrolled in school.

E) NGOs cited resource constraints and the scope of poverty
in Rwanda as the greatest challenges to the elimination of
child labor, but reported strong will on the part of the GOR
to combat child labor and "overwhelming support" from the
government for their activities despite these challenges.
While the results of the national survey on child labor will
not be available until 2008, a recent joint study carried out
by MIFOTRA and the Bureau of Statistics in the pilot district
of Karongi showed a drop in child labor, from 9.6 percent in
2002 to 3 percent in 2007. In a June meeting with the
Ambassador, the Minister of MIFOTRA described an earlier GOR
study which indicated that approximately 450,000 children
(around 9 percent of the country's four million children
under 18) were engaged in child labor. Recent preliminary
reports indicate that national numbers continued to decline.
In September, a UNICEF official stated the number of children
engaged in the worst forms of child labor in Rwanda had
measurably declined (exact figures were unavailable).

More than 85 percent of the Rwandan workforce is engaged in
subsistence agriculture, and child labor in this sector
persisted. Children also worked as household domestics, in
small companies, and in the brick-making industry. Updated
statistics on the incidence and nature of child labor across
labor sectors were not available.


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