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Cablegate: Nigeria: Update of Child Labor Information For

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

311156Z Aug 05




E.O. 12958: N/A



1. As per ref B, para 5, Post met with Ministry of Labor,
ILO, UNICEF, law enforcement and immigration, as well as NGO
representatives to update the mandatory child labor report.
The following paragraphs are updates keyed to the topics
listed in ref B, para 7. Post has provided a separate
response to ref A. Many of the facts included in ref A but
not mentioned in ref C need to be updated and corrected.

2. Laws and regulations proscribing the worst forms of child

From Lagos 1914:
Yes. President Obasanjo signed ILO Convention No. 182 on the
Worst Forms of Child Labor in 2002, following ratification by
the National Assembly in June 2001. Obasanjo also has signed
ILO Convention No. 138 on Minimum Age for Employment and ILO
Convention No. 111 on Equality of Occupation.

Federal legislation also outlaws forced or compulsory labor.
In most sectors, the minimum work age is 15
years, which is consistent with the age for completing
educational requirements. The law prohibits employment of
children less than 15 years of age in commerce and industry
and restricts other child labor to home-based agricultural or
domestic work. The law states that children may not be
employed in agricultural or domestic work for more than 8
hours per day. Apprenticeship of youths at the age of 13 is
allowed under specific conditions.

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In July 2003, the National Assembly passed the Child Rights
Act, bringing together into one law provisions from various
existing laws, including the prohibition of exploitative
labor. The Act must be signed by all the states. To date,
three of thirty-six states have signed, and the others are
reviewing the Act.

August 2005 Update:
As of today, a total of six states have passed the Child
Rights Act.

3. Regulations for implementation and enforcement of
proscriptions against the worst forms of child labor

From Lagos 1914:
Mixed. Since 2000, the government has had a memorandum of
understanding with the International Programme on
Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) to fund and develop a plan
to implement provisions of Convention 182.

Nigeria passed the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law
Enforcement and Administration Act in June 2003.
The Act makes it a crime to force a person into labor outside
Nigeria; however, it apparently does not
explicitly outlaw forced labor in Nigeria. This apparent gap
in the legislation currently is in review.
However, preexisting legislation would seem to outlaw forced
labor within Nigeria. As called for by the Act,
the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in
Persons (NAPTIP) was created in August 2003 to
enforce the provisions of the Act and other related laws,
including provisions addressing child labor and

Since its establishment in 2003, NAPTIP reports receiving
more than fifty complaints of child labor,
especially domestic labor. NAPTIP officials claim, however,
that their ability to act on the complaints is
limited. Its mandate they claim is unclear due to the lack
of uniformity in the body of laws affecting child
labor. However, some high-profile cases of trafficking in
children have been pursued. A widely reported case
occurred in Oyo, Ogun, and Osun states in September and
October of 2003. Nigerian police, alerted by staff from
a nongovernmental organization (NGO), found more than 200
children from Benin forced to work in stone and
granite quarries. The children were returned to Benin, and
investigations are ongoing in Benin and Nigeria to
prosecute the traffickers. In another case, in Cross River
State, police arrested two traffickers and
prevented sixty Nigerian children from being sent to work on
cocoa plantations in Odun State.

The Ministry of Employment, Labour, and Productivity has a
unit to deal specifically with child labor
issues, as well as an inspections department whose major
responsibilities include enforcement of legal
provisions relating to conditions of work and protection of
workers. However, there are fewer than 50
inspectors for the entire country, and the Ministry has
conducted inspections only in the formal business
sector, in which the incidence of child labor is not

Other agencies that share responsibility for enforcing child
labor laws include the Federal Ministry of Women
Affairs and Youth Development, the Child Rights Department of
the National Human Rights Commission, and
local government areas of the thirty-six states and federal
capital territory. President Obasanjo also
selected a special assistant for human trafficking and child
labor in June 2003. Available legal remedies
include criminal penalties and civil fines.

August 2005 Update:
NAPTIP has led the establishment of state-level
anti-trafficking committees, consisting of immigration
officials, civil society organizations, law enforcement
agents, and federal ministries in 22 states. Being
constituted at the local level, these committees are more
effective at sensitizing the local population about the
dangers of trafficking than if the education and outreach
were performed through highly centralized federal mechanisms.

The Ministry of Employment, Labour, and Productivity has an
office with an inspectorate in every state. There are
approximately 420 inspectors, and 120 of them are dedicated
to the informal economy. However, the inspectors are not as
effective as they could be, due to inadequate funding and

4. Whether there are social programs to prevent and withdraw
children from the worst forms of child labor

From Lagos 1914:
Yes. Private and government initiatives to stem the
incidence of the worst forms of child labor and child
employment in general are on-going. These programs, however,
suffer from financing and human resource
constraints. In conjunction with the ILO, the government
formulated a national program of action in
support of child rights, survival, protection, development,
and participation; however, the program
has shown few results due to logistical problems and changing
personnel in the Ministry of Employment,
Labour, and Productivity. The government is implementing the
ILO/IPEC West Africa Cocoa Agriculture
Project (WACAP) to combat hazardous child labor in the cocoa
and other agricultural sub-sectors and prevent
the trafficking of children for labor exploitation.

Laws call for universal basic education throughout Nigeria;
however, authorities do not consistently
enforce laws requiring parents to send their children to
school. President Obasanjo launched the Universal
Basic Education (UBE) program in 1999, at the beginning of
his elected administration. The program aims to make
education free and compulsory for all children at the primary
and junior secondary school levels. Progress
towards the goals of this program varies among the states.

The British Council program that provides technical
assistance for UBE says that about twenty-eight of
thirty-six states have declared free basic education as
official policy. In theory all children in these states
have "access" to free education. However, in practice
education is not free due to the numerous associated
costs of books, transport, uniforms, etc., so actual access
is considerably below 100 percent even in these
states. As of July 2003, the national net enrollment rate was
below 60 percent. The completion rate was
about 64 percent, and the transition rate from primary to
secondary was 44 percent. Among other factors,
analysts blame underfunding and a lack of qualified teachers
for the shortcomings of the UBE program.

Several programs by NGOs and international organizations
(IOs) address child labor in Nigeria.
UNICEF undertakes a mix of advocacy, awareness-raising, and
support activities across the country. One program
works to remove young girls from the street hawking trade and
relocate them to informal educational
settings. ILO programs work to involve communities and
schools in withdrawing children from exploitative
situations such as street hawking and prostitution. The
programs aim to reintegrate the children into school,
if possible, or otherwise provide vocational training. A new
ILO program partners with the News Agency of
Nigeria to raise awareness and build media capacity in
eliminating child labor and trafficking.
The Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradication Foundation
(WOTCLEF) (initiated by the wife of
Nigeria's vice president) focuses on advocacy, counseling,
and rehabilitation. The organization has
organized national and international conferences, presented
an anti-trafficking bill to the National
Assembly, and established prevention and awareness programs
in primary schools.

August 2005 Update:
UNICEF has implemented a children's congress program. In
each state, one child, age 10-17, is chosen from each local
government area to represent his/her area. The congress
meets in the capital for moderated discussions of civil
rights and the evils of human trafficking. Each
representative is expected to return to their community with
a report. A national congress has also been formed, and
UNICEF claims that the progress and positive effects of the
program are significant.

UNICEF is also collaborating with the Nigerian Government on
a Strategy for Acceleration of Girls Education in Nigeria,
which seeks to narrow the gap between boys' and girls' access
to education.

5. Does the country have a comprehensive policy aimed at the
elimination of the worst forms of child labor?

From Lagos 1914:
Yes. While there is no single national child labor law,
Nigeria has made significant progress toward
developing comprehensive child labor policy. The collective
body of domestic labor laws and
international agreements provides a solid legal foundation
for addressing the problems through
institutional means. The Child Rights Act brings many of the
various provisions under one law, but some
parties are still pushing for a formal national child labor
policy and advocacy strategy.

August 2005 Update:
No change from previous report.

6.Is the country making continual progress toward eliminating
the worst forms of child labor?

From Lagos 1914:
Yes. Nigeria has made qualitative progress toward
eliminating the worst forms of child labor. Awareness
has spread throughout civil society and the government has
shown its commitment to the issue. NGOs report
having a strong relationship with members of the National
Assembly. They say many legislators are
sensitized to the issues and ready to work with them.

Unfortunately, in spite of programs designed to reduce child
labor of all types, economic hardship has
resulted in high numbers of children in commercial activities
aimed at enhancing meager family income.
Children frequently are employed as beggars, hawkers, and bus
conductors in urban areas. The use of children
as domestic servants also is common. Few data are available
to analyze changes in the incidence of child
labor. The only survey conducted by Obasanjo administration,
the National Modular Child Labour
Survey Nigeria 2000/2001, reported approximately 15 million
children working in Nigeria. Of these, 6
million were not attending school and more than 2 million
were working very long days (15 or more hours per day).

Trafficking in children is a problem in Nigeria. The country
is an origin, transit, and destination country
for trafficked persons. Children are trafficked internally to
work as domestics or on cocoa and orange
plantations. Children are also trafficked to other nearby
countries to serve as domestics or agricultural
laborers. Disconcertingly, NGOs say many parents are pleased
with the opportunity to traffic their children,
believing that they are providing a better future for their
children and themselves. Children trafficked
internally often return to their villages at Christmas with
gifts purchased for the families by their
traffickers, who seek to create a false sense of economic
gain and generate a supply of future victims.
In 2003, many states that arrested traffickers were forced to
release them when victims and their families
refused to testify. There are no reliable statistics on the
overall number of trafficked persons per year.
The government is working to eliminate international and
internal child trafficking. It provides support to
international NGOs, which protect trafficking victims.
Nigerian embassies in destination countries provide
assistance to victims, and the Foreign Ministry created a
position to facilitate victim repatriation.

Internally, regional centers to monitor child rights
violations have been established. There is federal and
state government acknowledgement of trafficking, and
prevention efforts are underway at all levels.
Awareness campaigns, undertaken by NGOs, the U.N., prominent
politicians, state governments, and members
of the press continue to gain widespread attention. The
government has also initiated prosecutorial
proceedings against traffickers.

A host of issues intertwine to compound the child labor
problem in Nigeria. Roughly 70 percent of Nigeria's 135
million people live on less than $1 per day. Poverty is by
far the largest push-factor leading to child
employment. A national HIV/AIDS rate of five percent
exacerbates poverty and contributes to the incidence of
children living without one or both parents. The complexity
of the child labor problem requires a
comprehensive social, economic, and legal approach.

August 2005 Update:
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons
(NAPTIP) continues to expand its activities against
trafficking, and has recorded three successful convictions of
traffickers and has two more cases pending. In March 2005,
police rescued more than 100 trafficked children, including
67 children aged between one and 14 concealed in a truck,
ostensibly transporting frozen food. The children were
headed to Lagos, potentially to wind up as domestic servants.
In July, police in Cross River State, acting on a tip,
stopped a bus carrying 40 children to Cameroon for forced
labor. The children were returned to their homes in Cross
River and Ebonyi States, and NAPTIP is planning to prosecute
the traffickers.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crimes provides assistance with
research, law enforcement training, and the creation of
regional communication networks to the government of Nigeria
in the Global Program Against Trafficking in Human Beings.
Nigeria is also partnered with Italy in the UN Interregional
Crime and Justice Research Institute pilot project, focusing
specifically on trafficking in children from Nigeria to Italy.

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