Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More



Cablegate: Ukraine: Update of Child Labor Information for Tda


DE RUEHKV #2925/01 3341108
R 301108Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A) STATE 149662

B) 2006 KYIV 4542

1. Post provided detailed information on child labor in
Ukraine last year (ref B), the first time that Ukraine was
covered by this Trade and Development Act (TDA) reporting
requirement. As requested by ref A, below Post provides
updated information on child labor issues.

2. Post will also send this information via email to USDOL
POC Tina McCarter. Post's POC is Christian Yarnell,
Economic Officer - Email:; Phone: 011-
380-44-490-4276; Fax: 011-380-44-490-4277).

Laws/Regulations Proscribing the Worst Forms of Child Labor
---------------- ------------------------------------------

3. Ukraine's Labor Code sets 16 as the minimum age for
employment, although as of age 15 adolescents may engage in
"light work" with their parents' consent. The law does
not, however, clearly define the term "light work." In
addition, children aged 14 can legally do some forms of
agricultural and social work on a short-term basis, with
the consent of one parent.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

4. The law "On Childhood Protection" provides the primary
legal framework for combating child labor. Article 21 of
this law forbids the "involvement of children in the worst
forms of child labor" and defines the "worst forms of child
labor" in line with ILO Convention 182. Ukraine ratified
ILO Convention 182 on December 14, 2000. The law "On
Childhood Protection" provides a list of occupations
considered among the worst forms of child labor but does
not specify particular activities within those broad
occupations. Ukraine's National Tripartite Social and
Economic Council is currently developing a more detailed
list of activities considered the worst forms of child

Implementation and Enforcement

5. The State Labor Inspectorate (full name: State
Department of Surveillance over Labor Legislation
Observance) under the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy
is responsible for implementing and enforcing child labor
laws in the formal sector. The State Labor Inspectorate
maintains local offices in all of the country's 25 regions
and has approximately 2,000 individual inspectors
countrywide. In the informal sector, enforcing
responsibility falls to the Department of Juvenile Affairs
(under the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sport) and the
Criminal Police (under the Ministry of Internal Affairs).
The GOU cooperates with the ILO's International Program on
the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC).

6. Experts agree that child labor in Ukraine exists most
often in the informal sector, where the activities children
are engaged in are illegal. Common examples include sex
services, pornography, and unsanctioned coal mining.
Specific cases from 2007 include Europol's discovery in
November of a child pornography ring that victimized 21
Ukrainian children, and an investigation in the eastern
oblast of Donetsk of a boarding school for disabled
children that allowed a group of underage orphans to sift
and load coal for a nearby company. In such cases, law
enforcement agencies usually take the lead and seek
prosecution of those responsible for the illegal activity
and illegal hiring of children. Tetyana Minenko, National
Program Manager for ILO/IPEC, told Econoff on November 23
that recent surveys indicated that enhanced GOU enforcement
efforts had at least eliminated child labor underground at
unsanctioned coal mines, although children continued to
work on the surface at such mines.

7. According to Article 150 of Ukraine's Criminal Code, the
unlawful employment of an underage child carries a sentence
of up to six months imprisonment, or judicial restraint for
up to three years, along with restrictions for up to three
years on the right to occupy certain positions and conduct
certain business activities. A stiffer sentence of
imprisonment from two to five years is possible if multiple
underage children are involved, if the offender causes
considerable damage to the health or physical condition of
the child, or if the work involves some kind of hazardous
production. In addition, Article 304 of the Criminal Code
allows for imprisonment, or judicial restraint, for a term

up to three years for the involvement of adolescents under
18 into criminal activity, drunkenness, begging, or

8. The government investigates complaints and attempts to
address violations, although incidents of child labor
remain. Ukraine's system of labor inspections is split
among three different bodies -- the State Labor
Inspectorate, the State Committee for Industrial Safety,
Occupational Health, and Mining Supervision, and the State
Committee on Occupational Hygiene (under the Ministry of
Health). Better integration of the inspection function
would likely improve the government's ability to combat
child labor. Some legal restrictions also constrain labor
inspectors in their efforts to combat child labor. For
example, labor inspectors cannot investigate cases at
private residences (including household farms), where some
businesses employing children may be registered. The
Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is currently drafting
legislative amendments meant to eliminate these

9. Violators of child labor laws in the formal sector
usually face only small administrative fines, and
punishments do not constitute a serious deterrent.
Employers of children who engage in criminal activities are
more difficult for the government to monitor, but routinely
face criminal prosecution when discovered.

10. Investigating child labor abuses is part of the State
Labor Inspectorate's broader enforcement of labor laws, and
there are no inspectors devoted solely to child labor.
Through 563 inspections during the first half of 2007, the
State Labor Inspectorate found 1500 cases in which
adolescents under 18 years old were working. Inspectors
passed 62 cases to law enforcement bodies to pursue
criminal prosecution. Authorities filed administrative
charges with the courts in 257 cases. Information on how
these cases concluded is not available. Fifteen employers
faced administrative liability for refusal to cooperate
with labor inspectors.

11. Inspectors receive some training on child labor laws,
although State Labor Inspectorate representative Irina
Vasylenko told Econoff on November 9 that inspectors could
benefit from additional training on how to conduct
interviews more effectively with children and employers.

Social Programs to Combat Child Labor

12. Parliament adopted "The National Program on Supporting
Youth for 2004-2008" on November 18, 2003. The program
aims at creating favorable political, social, economic,
legislative, financial, and organizational conditions for
addressing the urgent problems of young people.

13. The President of Ukraine issued a Decree "On Priority
Measures to Protect Children's Rights" on July 11, 2005.
The government of Ukraine subsequently developed a series
of policy initiatives to implement the President's goals.
Among these initiatives are the following:

-- The Decree "On the Statute of SOS-Children Village,"
issued on March 15, 2006, established a specialized
nonprofit organization, under the supervision of the
Department of Juvenile Affairs, which seeks to provide
disadvantaged children with life skills and educational
opportunities within a family environment.

-- "The State Program on Family Support for 2006-2010" was
approved by the Government on May 11, 2006. It acknowledged
the increasing number of street children and the high level
of child neglect. The initiative sets a minimum level of
financial assistance for vulnerable families. It also
carries provisions for psychological support, and for broad
public awareness campaigns on family values and healthy

-- "The State Program on Reforming the Boarding System for
Children-Orphans and Children, Deprived of Parental Care,"
approved on May 11, 2006, seeks to restructure the nation's
boarding schools, and to promote foster care and other
alternative models of child care.

-- "The State Program on Education Development for 2006-
2010," approved on July 12, 2006, aims to reform the

Ukrainian education system along European lines. It
supports improved education in rural areas and for children
lacking parental care.

-- The government amended the "Regulation On Setting and
Payment of State Allowances for Families with Children" on
August 1, 2006 to provide single-parent families with state
allowances for children, up to 23 years of age, studying in
institutions of higher education. The state previously
provided such assistance for children only up to 18 years
of age.

-- "The State Program on Combating Trafficking in Human
Beings," approved on March 7, 2007, and in force until
2010, contains special provisions on child trafficking.
The program requires the Ministry of Family, Youth and
Sports, as well as other executive bodies, to allocate
budget funds to help the victims of trafficking, and child
trafficking in particular.

14. The Ministry of Education and Science takes the lead in
developing and implementing programs to support children's
access to schooling. In particular, the Ministry publishes
and supplies free manuals for schools, provides busing for
children in rural areas, and supports teachers in rural
schools through initiatives to provide teachers with
housing and supplemental wages.

15. The government provides support to vocational programs
for older children that can serve as an alternative to
work. The Public Employment Service operates a vocational
training program for unemployed youth who are outside the
education system. In collaboration with the Ministry of
Education and Science, the Public Employment Service also
conducts job counseling and vocational reorientation
activities to meet current labor market demands, and has
expanded its efforts to provide training for school
guidance counselors. Working with the ILO's SCREAM
Initiative ("Supporting Children's Rights through
Education, the Arts, and the Media"), the Ministry of
Education has provided materials to schools across the
country meant to promote children's participation in
extracurricular activities, and to keep them out of the
labor force.

16. Ukraine's Constitution calls for universal education,
and authorities generally enforce this requirement. Public
education is free, but students are sometimes expected to
cover their own expenses for books, supplies (including
school uniforms), and transportation. These expenses can
be quite costly for poorer Ukrainian families and can, in
rare cases, prevent some children from attending school.
Transportation can be a particularly difficult impediment;
the state's ability to provide buses in some school
districts, particularly those between small villages, is
limited by budgetary constraints. The Ministry of
Education is implementing a $96 million World Bank project
meant to improve the country's education system and ensure
equal access for all Ukrainians.

Comprehensive Policy for Elimination of Child Labor
--------------------------------------------- ------

17. Through the 2005 Decree "On Priority Measures to
Protect Children's Rights," the President empowered the
Government to draft a National Action Plan (NAP) for the
period 2006-2016 aimed at the effective implementation of
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as a
National Program to Combat Child Homelessness for the
period of 2006-2010. The NAP, approved on April 22, 2006,
tracks closely with the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child. The draft NAP also outlines an improved Child Labor
Monitoring System. In 2006, the government submitted the
NAP for parliamentary approval, which would help guarantee
consistent state budget funding for the protection of the
rights of children. Parliament adopted the NAP as a law
only in July, when Ukraine was in the midst of a political
crisis, and the law never took effect because the President
refused to recognize the legality of any acts passed by the
Parliament during this period. The Ministry of Labor hopes
that the new Parliament, which took office in November,
will return to the issue.

18. The 2005 Presidential Decree also requested the
Ministry of Justice to examine and improve the juvenile
justice system. The Ministry of Interior, meanwhile, was
tasked to improve efforts to locate missing children,

better identify individuals who involve children in illicit
activities (begging, prostitution, etc.), and bring these
individuals to justice.

19. President Viktor Yushchenko has made the elimination of
the worst forms of child labor a government priority since
taking office in 2005, and has spoken publicly on the issue
on several occasions.

Progress toward Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor
--------------- ------------------------------------------

20. As established by the Constitution of Ukraine, child
labor has been and remains formally prohibited. However,
it has always existed, and was an integral part of the
Soviet educational system, considered valuable experience
in preparing children for the workplace. Under the planned
Soviet economy, child labor did not have an overly
destructive impact on children because it was overseen by
national education bodies and was utilized as a means of
education rather than family subsistence. The situation
changed dramatically after the downfall of the Soviet Union
and the subsequent collapse of the Ukrainian economy,
however, when child labor as a large scale social and
economic problem took on new dimensions. The collapse of
the economic system fostered the emergence of a large
shadow economy in which child labor is widely used. Petty
commerce appears to be the most common occupation in which
children are engaged, as approximately one third of working
children sell products on the streets or in unofficial
markets. Poverty became the primary driving force for
child labor, and general social disorder rendered children
unprotected, particularly in relation to the employer.

21. Children are not found in Ukraine to be working in
slavery or practices similar to slavery. Children are
trafficked to work, however. Ukraine is a point of origin
for internationally trafficked men, women, and children.
The main destinations are Russia, Turkey, Western and
Central Europe, particularly Poland and the Czech Republic,
and the Middle East. The country is also a transit route
for individuals from Central Asia, Russia, and Moldova.
According to the International Organization for Migration
(IOM), the main trafficking victims are females up to 30
years of age (for sexual exploitation) and older females
(for labor exploitation), males of all ages (for labor
exploitation), and children under the age of 16 (both for
sexual and labor exploitation). Children who were
trafficked across the border or within the country are
forced to provide sexual services, engage in unpaid work,
or beg. The law provides for penalties of three to eight
years' imprisonment for trafficking in persons for various
purposes, including sexual and labor exploitation. Under
some aggravated circumstances involving trafficking of
minors aged 14 to 18, traffickers may be sentenced to
prison terms of from five to 12 years. Traffickers of
minors under the age of 14 may be sentenced to terms of
from eight to 15 years.

22. Although the ILO cites encouraging trends in the
decrease of unemployment to seven percent in Ukraine in
2006, 23 percent of those registered as unemployed at the
State Employment Service are young people. The situation
is even worse in rural areas. According to research
conducted in 2003 by the National Institute on Problems of
International Security, the main reason for rural youth to
go abroad (and to be vulnerable to trafficking) is
unemployment, while for urban youth it is low-paying or
non-paying salaries.

23. The government has made progress in combating child
labor in recent years, but substantial tasks remain. The
majority of local government agencies, as well as some
central government bodies, still do not possess sufficient
awareness, commitment, and capacity to plan and implement
interventions to combat child labor. In addition,
Ukrainian society has only recently begun to recognize the
existence of child labor and associated problems. Broad
societal support, strong and consistent political
commitment, as well as support from a wide range of
government agencies still need be ensured. Institutional
capacity also needs to be strengthened, both in substantive
(child labor related knowledge and methodology) and
technical (program management capacity and resource
mobilization) areas. That said, the government's recent
efforts to combat child labor, and its cooperation with the
ILO on this issue, have been a very positive step.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.