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Cablegate: Portugal Reply On Forced Labor and Child Labor

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLI #1324 1581332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061332Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6868
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS LISBON 001324

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR DRL/ILCSR (MITTELHAUSER), G/TIP (STEINER),
AND DOL/ILAB (RIGBY)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ETRD PHUM SOCI PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGAL REPLY ON FORCED LABOR AND CHILD LABOR
REPORT

REF: SECSTATE 41381

Overview and Background
-----------------------

1. There is no credible evidence that child labor or forced
labor is being used in the production of goods, according to
Joaquina Cadete, Director of the Prevention and Elimination
of Child Labor Program (PETI) in the Ministry of Labor (MOL).
Cadete stated that Portugal does not have an organized use
of child labor in any sector. Joao Gois from ILO in Lisbon
agreed, stating that child labor is not considered a problem
by ILO in Portugal.

Current State of Play
---------------------

2. A decade ago, Portugal was one of the only Western
European nations with a significant child labor force, but
that is no longer the case. The main explanation, Cadete
said, is that public perception has evolved and underage
labor (younger than 16) is no longer viewed as socially
acceptable. In 2006, PETI reported that an estimated 126
children were working in the "worst forms of child labor,"
including drug trafficking, prostitution, and pornography.
PETI is the government entity responsible for addressing such
cases, as well as those that involve children working in
family businesses. Cadete noted that PETI also monitors
children who are at risk of dropping out and working while
underage. PETI does not track foreign minors living in
Portugal and acknowledges that some foreign children,
particularly Roma, work as beggars in cities. The Ministry
of Labor's Inspector General for Work Safety reports much
lower numbers than PETI (only five children employed in
2006), but both organizations agree that forced labor and
child labor in the production of goods is no longer a problem
in Portugal. As administrative entities, both PETI and the
Inspector General's office pass cases to the Ministry of
Internal Administration for legal action in cases of forced
labor or trafficking.

3. The only recent case of alleged child labor in the
production of goods was reported in June 2006. According to
press reports, Zara, a Spanish-owned fashion company, had
employed two Portuguese children to sew shoes by hand. After
an internal investigation, the company announced that it did
not condone the practice and that the boys had been pressed
into employment by their family unbeknownst to the company.
Ballard

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