Cablegate: Mozambique: Updated Child Labor Information

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: (A) STATE 163967

(B) 2004 Mozambique Human Rights Report
Draft, Potts 9/22/2004 email
(C) 03 MAPUTO 000284 (Post draft 2003
Trafficking in Persons Report)

1. Please handle accordingly. Not for internet distribution.

2. (SBU) Mozambique is party to the ILO convention
against the worst forms of child labor. The Government
of the Republic of Mozambique (GRM) has a regulatory
framework in place to monitor and prosecute infractions
of the labor code, but it does not have a regulatory
body specifically devoted to child labor cases. The
Ministry of Labor (MOL) has worked to develop programs
to combat the worst forms of child labor, but impact to
date has been minimal. The Labor Law regulates child
labor; however, child labor remains a problem in
Mozambique. End Summary.

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor
3. (U) A rapid assessment child labor survey of
children under 18 conducted between 1998 - 2002 by the
MOL and UNICEF identified the worst forms of child
labor prevalent in Mozambique as children working in
commercial agriculture, domestic labor, and child
prostitution. The major factors contributing to child
labor where chronic family poverty, lack of employment
for adults, breakdown of family support mechanisms,
changing economic environment, lack of education
opportunities resulting from inadequate education
system, gender inequality, and the impact of HIV/AIDS.
(Note: Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS often are forced
to work because they are left without any adult family
members or with only extended family members who were
unable to support them. End note.)

Laws and Regulations Defining Child Labor
4. (U) The government ratified ILO Conventions 182 and
29 in July 2003, but has not signed nor ratified the
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and
Child Pornography, nor the Protocol to Prevent,
Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. Law 8/98
sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years, but in
exceptional cases, allows for children between the ages
of 12 and 15 to work with the joint approval of the
Ministries of Labor, Health, and Education. The law
sets restricted conditions on the work minors between
the ages of 15 and 18 may perform, limits the number of
hours they can work, and establishes training,
education, and medical exam requirements. For children
between 15 and 18 years of age, the employer is
required to provide for their education and
professional training and to ensure conditions of work
that are not damaging to their physical and moral

5. (U) For minors under 18 years, the maximum workweek
is 38 hours and the maximum workday is 7 hours. Minors
under 18 years of age are not permitted to work in
unhealthy or dangerous occupations or those requiring
significant physical effort. Children must undergo a
medical examination before beginning work. By law,
children must be paid at least the minimum wage or a
minimum of two-thirds of the adult salary, whichever is
higher. The Constitution prohibits forced labor,
except in the context of penal law.

6. (U) Due to high adult unemployment in the formal
sector, estimated at around 50 percent, few children
are employed in regular wage positions; however,
children, including those under the age of 15, commonly
work on family farms; independently in seasonal
harvests or commercial plantations, where they are paid
on a piecework basis, which principally involves
picking cotton or tea leaves; or in the urban informal
sector, where they perform such tasks as guarding cars,
collecting scrap metal, working as vendors, and selling
trinkets and/or food in the streets. Regulations are
not enforced in the informal labor sector. Children
also are employed as poorly paid domestic laborers, and
this number appears to be increasing.

7. (U) Mozambican law does not specifically prohibit
trafficking in persons. Traffickers can be prosecuted
using laws on sexual assault, rape, abduction, and
child abuse, but to post's knowledge, few to none of
such cases have been brought to trial. The government
has responded to trafficking-related allegations in the
press by conducting follow-up investigations and
issuing public awareness announcements. In September
2003, the government launched a program to enhance its
child protection laws, including the development of
legislation to specifically address trafficking in
children. A pilot program of police stations dedicated
to dealing with trafficking victims, and staffed with
trained officers, was implemented in three provincial

Implementation and Enforcement of Labor Laws
8. (SBU) The MOL is authorized to regulate child labor
in both the informal and formal sectors. Labor
inspectors are authorized to obtain court orders and
use police to enforce compliance with child labor
provisions. Violations of child labor provisions are
punishable with fines. Enforcement remedies generally
are adequate in the formal sectors, but remain
inadequate in the regulation of informal child labor.
The Labor Inspectorate and police force lack adequate
staff, funds, and training to investigate child labor
cases, especially in areas outside of the capital. The
government provides training for police on child
prostitution and abuse (including pornography);
however, there is no specialized child labor training
for the Labor Inspectorate. The government has
disseminated information and provided education about
the dangers of child labor.

9. (SBU) Education is compulsory and free through the
age of 12, but there is a matriculation fee for each
child, and children are responsible for purchasing
books and school supplies. Children who have a
certificate that testifies that their parents' incomes
are below a certain poverty level do not pay any
matriculation fees. Nevertheless, the fees and
associated costs are a significant financial burden for
many families. Enforcement of compulsory education
laws is inconsistent due to the lack of resources and
the need for additional schools in the upper grades.

Social Programs to Counter Child Labor
10. (SBU) The MOL and other organizations have done
some work on child labor issues, but with little
impact. Currently, the MOL is developing an action
plan for reducing child labor and has allocated funds
to organize a seminar to discuss this issue. The GRM
also has programs aimed at supporting children from
impoverished families to stay in school and away from
the labor market and the worst forms of child labor.
For example, the GRM has established a scholarship
program to cover the costs of school materials and fees
for children. These programs are especially targeted
at young girls and child-headed households, a
phenomenon resulting from the high prevalence of
HIV/AIDS in Mozambique.

11. (U) The GRM's Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2001-
2005, includes an education investment component. The
GRM designated approximately 2.41 percent of total
expenditures for education in 2003. The Ministry of
Education (MINED) has made significant progress in
increasing enrollments at all levels, expanding the
school network, rolling out a new primary education
curriculum, launching a national in-service teacher
education program and decentralizing resources for key
school inputs directly to primary schools (grades 1 -

12. (U) Key indicators attest to such progress with
indicators established for 2003 generally reached or
surpassed. The net admission rate for children aged 6
in grade 1 was 44 percent, 2 points higher than
expected. At the middle school level, gross enrollment
rates were 37 percent and 28 percent for boys and
girls, respectively. The 2003 target gross enrollment
of 45 percent for girls at the primary school level was
achieved. The completion rate, however, is increasing
more slowly, from 22 percent in 1997 to 37 percent (29
percent for girls) in 2002, which was 1 point below the

National Policy and Plan of Action
13. (U) Government policies to assist the poor and most
vulnerable, such as child laborers, include a Poverty
Alleviation Action Plan (PARPA), decentralized
planning, and a multi-sectoral approach to HIV/AIDS
where the disease forces children to drop out of school
in order to work. The Government of Mozambique and
UNICEF signed a Master Plan of Operations in 2002 aimed
at improving the living conditions of the country's
children through the PARPA. The overall goal of the
UNICEF Country Program is to support and strengthen
Mozambique's commitment and capacity to promote,
protect and fulfill children's rights, meet their basic
needs, and expand the opportunities of children to
reach their fullest potential. To achieve this goal,
UNICEF is working with the GRM on a national,
provincial and district level, as well as with young
people and children in the community. With respect to
trafficking in children, the GRM actively participates
in The Campaign against Trafficking in Children, and is
establishing an assistance center at the border post of
Ressano Garcia for repatriated victims of child

14. (U) In April 2004, Mozambique's National Assembly
opened its doors to youth representatives of the Second
National Child Parliament. During the session, youth
delegates spoke to the concerns and demands of the more
than 9 million children in Mozambique. The Child
Parliament was organized by the Ministry for Women and
the Coordination of Social Action with the support of
UNICEF, the Save the Children Alliance and other

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