Cablegate: Information On Child Labor and Forced Labor for Dol
RR RUEHBC RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0107/01 0340534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030534Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6453
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 BEIRUT 000107
STATE FOR NEA/ELA, DRL/ILCSR - MORGAN, G/TIP - CDEBACA
STATE PASS USTR FRANCESCKI/GROVES
STATE PASS USAID BEVER/LAUDATO/SCOTT
DOL/ILAB FOR STROTKAMP/RIGBY/MCCARTER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD KTIP PHUM SOCI USAID ECON PGOV LE
SUBJECT: INFORMATION ON CHILD LABOR AND FORCED LABOR FOR DOL
CONGRESSIONAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS - LEBANON
REF: A. STATE 131995
B. 09 BEIRUT 65
C. 09 BEIRUT 435
1/TVPRA: FORCED LABOR AND EXPLOITATIVE
CHILD LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION OF GOODS
1A. (SBU) As noted in the 2009 TVPRA report, tobacco was the only
good in Lebanon whose production was documented to include child
labor. However, no tobacco from Lebanon was exported, according to
the regional office of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
1B. (SBU) In addition, the ILO regional office noted that the
presence of children on tobacco plantations was not exploitation.
Tobacco farms -- mainly located in the south, and some in the
eastern Bekaa region -- were family businesses in which all family
members participated and faced similar hazardous conditions.
Children were mainly involved in the harvesting of tobacco leaves,
the hazards of which involved the use of needles, threads, and
steelheads to string the tobacco to dry.
1C. (SBU) Post's information comes from meetings in late 2009 and
early 2010 with ILO, Ministry of Education (MOE), and Ministry of
Labor (MOL) representatives, as well as conversations with
non-governmental organizations active in combating child labor.
1D. (SBU) According to a 2007 ILO report, the majority of the
working children in tobacco cultivation were 12-15 years old,
although some fell in the 9-12 years age range. As of January 2010,
the ILO had not updated its 2007 figures.
1E. (SBU) According to a 2007 ILO report, the production of tobacco
involved around 25,000 child laborers aged 7-17 years old. As of
January 2010, the ILO had not updated its 2007 figures.
1F. (SBU) Post obtained conflicting reports on tobacco child
laborers, school attendance, and GOL efforts to combat child labor
in tobacco. The ILO noted that during the tobacco harvesting
season, school hours were adjusted in coordination with the MOE to
allow children to work in the fields to prevent dropouts. In
addition, the vice president of a prominent NGO based in the south,
the Association for the Development of Rural Capacities (ADR), told
us that during the harvesting season schools were empty and the MOE
unofficially condoned absences. However, a senior MOE official
denied that public schools adjusted their teaching hours for any
reason. Until the GOL finds an alternative livelihood for families
dependent on tobacco production and musters the political will to
address the issue (the GOL's Regie des Tabacs et Tombacs buys all
tobacco production at subsidized prices), child labor in the tobacco
sector will remain problematic, Embassy contacts opined.
(SBU) The ILO noted that in early 2009, a prominent multinational
corporation provided tobacco farmers free machines that
automatically align tobacco leaves and thread them, a process
normally done by children. These machines had eliminated many of
the hazards for children and decreased the number of children in the
fields in 2009, ILO representatives said. After the success of this
project, the company was looking into raising enough funds to
provide these machines to all tobacco farmers.
(SBU) In addition, ADR in collaboration with the Spanish government
ran a 3-year program (2006-2009) that provided remedial classes and
extra-curricular activities on holidays to children from 12
different schools working in tobacco plantations in order to help
them make up absences from the production season. ADR also actively
encouraged families in southern Lebanon to switch from tobacco to
more profitable alternative crops, such as medicinal plants, thyme,
and olive trees.
2A: PREVALENCE AND SECTORAL DISTRIBUTION
OF EXPLOITATIVE CHILD LABOR
(SBU) In 2009, child labor in Lebanon was predominantly concentrated
in informal sectors of the economy, including small family
businesses, mechanical workshops, carpentry, construction, welding,
agriculture, and fisheries. According to the ILO, an increasing
number of children were involved in the drug trade, prostitution,
domestic work (mainly in north Lebanon), and street vending
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(especially Syrians and Roma selling flowers in restaurants,
primarily in Tripoli). ILO representatives noted that Lebanon was
becoming a transit hub for the trafficking of women from Eastern
Europe, some of them children, to work as prostitutes in Gulf
countries, but the ILO lacked figures about the prevalence of this
(SBU) Up-to-date figures on child labor in Lebanon in 2009 were
unavailable. The ILO noted that its longstanding estimate of
100,000 child laborers -- commonly cited in literature and by the
GOL -- was no longer accurate. Anecdotal evidence suggested the
number of child workers had risen in 2009 and their distribution
among sectors had changed, with fewer children working in tobacco
production and more in the hidden services sector, such as
prostitution. The ILO said worsening economic conditions had forced
parents to remove their children from schools and put them to work
to provide extra income for the family. As of January 2010, the ILO
was working with a private research institute to update its child
(SBU) The Central Administration of Statistics (CAS), in
collaboration with the ILO, planned to conduct a labor force survey,
but the approval of the prime minister had been pending since May
2009. CAS, in collaboration with UNICEF, recently finished the
fieldwork for its Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS3), which
will include a section on child labor, and planned to publish its
results in the coming months.
2B: LAWS AND REGULATIONS
(SBU) As of January 2010, new legislation and amendments to current
laws to bring Lebanon into conformity with UN Convention 182,
including new provisions on child labor within the Labor Law and
adopting the list of "worst forms of child labor," were still
pending cabinet approval and ratification.
(SBU) Although a draft law raising compulsory education from 12 to
15, in compliance with UN Convention 138, was still pending in
parliament at year's end, the ILO and MOE expected parliament would
soon approve it. Although raising mandatory schooling ages would
help reduce dropouts, the ILO questioned whether the GOL had
sufficient administrative capacity to enforce the proposed law, and
it was unclear if the schools had the capacity to absorb the
additional students. In principle, public education was free, but
families were required to pay registration and other miscellaneous
(SBU) In 2009, the Higher Council for Childhood (HCC), part of the
Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA), was working with UNICEF Lebanon,
Save the Children Sweden, and World Vision Lebanon on a Child
Protection Law to further develop Law 422 on the protection of
children. Meanwhile, in 2009 the UN Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) submitted a draft law on trafficking to the Ministry of
Justice that was still pending approval in the cabinet at year's
2C: INSTITUTIONS AND MECHANISMS FOR ENFORCEMENT
(SBU) According to the MOL, most accounts of child labor in 2009
related to hazardous child labor, not forced child labor.
Representatives of the MOL Child Labor Unit explained that the GOL
does not differentiate between hazardous and forced child labor
since the two conditions were difficult to distinguish on the
ground. Therefore, we will respond to questions 1-14 jointly,
unless noted otherwise.
1. (SBU) The MOL, via its Child Labor Unit, and the Ministry of
Interior (MOI), via the Internal Security Forces (ISF), were
responsible for the enforcement of laws related to hazardous child
labor and forced labor.
2. (SBU) In 2009, there were minimal mechanisms for exchanging
information between the MOL and MOI. The MOL expected coordination
to improve following the adoption, expected in February 2010, of a
joint monitoring system at the MOL to coordinate nationwide efforts
on child labor. (Note: See part 2E for details on the monitoring
system. End note.)
3. (SBU) There was no formal mechanism for submitting complaints
about child labor violations, but the MOL received informal
complaints in 2009. MOL inspectors could enter formal sector
workplaces based on a complaint, but they also conducted routine
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workplace inspections. According to the MOL, inspectors could only
investigate alleged cases of child labor in the informal sector
following a complaint. In such cases, MOL inspectors would summon
the suspected informal sector employer to the ministry to discuss
the complaint. For complaints regarding tobacco farms, which fall
in the informal sector, MOL inspectors could inspect the farm itself
if the employer ignored the MOL request to meet. For complaints
regarding child labor/forced labor in homes, however, MOL inspectors
lacked a mandate to enter homes to continue investigations. The
MOSA's social workers could enter informal places of work where
child labor was suspected, but they were only empowered to assess
the overall welfare of the family entity, not the working conditions
of individuals, including children.
4. (SBU) MOL inspectors received their regular salaries, in addition
to transportation allowances, compensatory time, and compensation
for each inspection made. According to the ILO, salaries were low
and inspectors lacked the facilities and financial and technical
support to properly perform their duties.
5. (SBU) In 2009, the MOL employed approximately 130 labor
inspectors and assistant inspectors. The MOL admitted that the
number of inspectors was inadequate.
6. (SBU) The GOL does not maintain statistics on the number of
inspections carried out by the MOL.
7. (SBU) The GOL does not maintain statistics of the number of
children who were removed or assisted as a result of inspections.
8. (SBU) The ISF must report all cases in which protection was
requested for juveniles -- whether as accused, victims or witnesses
-- to the Directorate of Juveniles at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ),
according to a memorandum between the Internal Security Forces (ISF)
and MOJ. The head of the MOJ directorate, who lacked any
information about child labor court cases, noted that most ISF
officers were unaware of the requirements or lacked clarity
regarding what information they were required to report. In
addition, the MOJ noted that any data on legal cases would be
inaccurate since some cases involving child labor inspections were
solved administratively or via warnings instead of entering the
9. (SBU) Neither the MOL nor MOJ maintained figures or estimates
about the number of child labor cases that were closed in 2009.
10. (SBU) Neither the MOL nor MOJ maintained figures or estimates
about the number of child labor violations or convictions achieved
11. (SBU) Since neither the MOL nor MOJ maintained figures or
estimates about the number of child labor cases that were closed or
opened in 2009, no information on the average length of each case
12. (SBU) Since neither the MOL nor MOJ maintained figures or
estimates about the number of child labor cases that were closed or
opened in 2009, no information about penalties applied in 2009 was
13. (SBU) The GOL lacked resources to effectively combat child labor
in 2009, but official interlocutors expressed a commitment to combat
child labor within the resources available and to improve the
legislative framework to more effectively address child labor
violations. In particular, GOL interlocutors expected more progress
following the establishment of a monitoring system for child labor
based at the MOL. (Note: Please refer to part 2E for details on the
monitoring system. End note.) The ILO also noted the MOL's
commitment to combat child labor in 2010.
14. (SBU) The ILO provided ongoing training on best practices for
MOL labor inspectors in 2009.
2D: INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS
FOR EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT
(SBU) The GOL lacked detailed information on child trafficking,
commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), or the use of
children in illicit activities. As of January 2010, World Vision
was finalizing an assessment of child trafficking in Lebanon. The
HCC noted that Lebanon -- still in the primary stages of addressing
child trafficking -- was focused on awareness more than enforcement
and therefore had no record of convictions. Because of these
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factors, we received only merged data -- when data existed -- on the
three categories. Therefore, we will answer questions 1-13 jointly
for all three categories, unless noted otherwise.
1. (SBU) The HCC, ISF, MOJ, and MOL were jointly charged with
enforcement of child trafficking, CSEC, and the use of children in
illicit activities. There were no figures in 2009 on the number of
people responsible for and dedicated to related investigations. The
HCC had a full-time staff of seven coordinators and 22 outsourced
social workers. MOL employed approximately 130 labor inspectors and
assistant inspectors. None of the ISF's 23,000 officers focus
specifically on child trafficking, CSEC, or the use of children in
illicit activities, according to the HCC.
2. (SBU) Because no trafficking law existed 2009, information was
unavailable regarding funding for trafficking investigation
3. (SBU) No mechanism existed in 2009 to report violations. The
HCC, in collaboration with Save the Children and UNICEF, was working
on establishing a hotline, but the secretary general of the HCC said
the project -- still in its primary stages -- lacked a projected a
time frame for completion.
4. (SBU) Because no laws in 2009 specifically included child
trafficking, CSEC, or the use of children in illicit activities, no
data on arrests or prosecutions on these charges existed. If those
accused of these offenses were prosecuted, charges were listed under
prostitution, rape, withholding a passport, or similar crimes. The
MOJ's Directorate of Juveniles published online the partial data
that it had collected. The figures for preliminary investigations
during 2008 showed 14 accused and 44 victims in the category "rape
and sexual abuse," while nine others were accused of "prostitution."
These were the only figures available for investigations and post
had no means to independently verify the data.
5. (SBU) Neither the GOL nor NGOs maintained information on the
number of children rescued.
6. (SBU) Because no laws specifically included child trafficking,
CSEC, or the use of children in illicit activities, information on
the number of arrests or prosecutions for these charges in 2009 was
7. (SBU) Because no laws specifically include child trafficking,
CSEC, or the use of children in illicit activities, information on
the number of cases resolved in 2009 was unavailable.
8. (SBU) Because no laws specifically include child trafficking,
CSEC, or the use of children in illicit activities, no figures were
available on the number of convictions in 2009.
9. (SBU) Lebanon's legal framework on child trafficking, CSEC, and
the use of children in illicit activities differed according to the
issue. CSEC and the use of children in illicit activities probably
fell under the Law on Juveniles (Law 422), according to the HCC, but
the 2002 law was vague and thus difficult to enforce. In 2009, no
legislation existed for child trafficking. The HCC, as part of the
MOSA, was working on a draft child protection law that would
explicitly cover child trafficking, CSEC, and the use of children in
illicit activities. In addition, UNODC drafted a trafficking law
for the MOJ that included a section on child trafficking; UNODC
expected the MOJ to submit the draft law to the cabinet for approval
in early February. (Note: If approved by cabinet, the law would go
to parliament for approval. End note.)
10. (SBU) Because no laws specifically included child trafficking,
CSEC, or the use of children in illicit activities, information
regarding sentences served in 2009 was unavailable.
11. (SBU) Because no laws specifically included child trafficking,
CSEC, or the use of children in illicit activities, information
regarding the length of time required to resolve cases in 2009 was
12. (SBU) The HCC, in collaboration with World Vision, will begin a
pilot training program during the first quarter of 2010 on how to
identify, enforce, and record child trafficking cases. This initial
project is not expected to include more than 20 ISF members.
13. (SBU) No armed conflict took place in Lebanon in 2009.
2E: GOVERNMENT POLICIES ON CHILD LABOR
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1. (SBU) In the new cabinet's ministerial statement of December
2009, the GOL vowed to enact policies to "move from social care to
social development" and "to focus on protecting vulnerable groups,"
including children. The ministerial statement also prioritized
"solving the issue of abandoned children and beggars in the
streets," along with implementing the Convention on Children's
2. (SBU) The GOL promised to formulate a plan to combat violence
against women, as well as legislation to combat trafficking in women
and children for sexual exploitation and forced labor. No action on
these issues was taken in 2009.
(SBU) The MOL is expected to start implementing Phase III of the
ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC)
in February 2010. This three-year program will focus primarily on
child labor in the north and reopen the referral centers -- used to
file complaints of child or forced labor -- that were closed due to
violence in the area and a lack of funding. More importantly, Phase
III will focus on establishing a child labor monitoring unit at the
MOL. This unit, which will include representatives from the MOI,
the MOE, the MOSA, the MOJ, and the Ministry of Public Health, is
designed to coordinate child labor policies and enforcement efforts.
3. (SBU) Phase III of the IPEC program is expected to start soon in
northern Lebanon with funding of approximately $1 million from the
Government of Italy. The MOL will not provide direct funding to the
project, but it will pay the salaries of MOL employees in the Child
Labor Unit who will help implement the project. Foreign funding and
MOL contributions to support IPEC and broader efforts to combat
child labor were not sufficient, according to the MOL, and there is
no separate allocation for child labor in the MOL budget.
4. (SBU) The MOL collaborated with the ILO to plan and implement the
first two stages of the IPEC program and in the planning of the
5. (SBU) According to the MOL, formulation of the third stage of the
IPEC program was successful, and implementation will begin in 2010.
6. (SBU) The government did not participate in any commissions or
task forces on child labor.
7. (SBU) The GOL did not sign a bilateral, regional or international
agreement to combat trafficking in 2009.
2F: SOCIAL PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE OR PREVENT CHILD LABOR
1. (SBU) During 2009, the HCC held a number of awareness campaigns
and training sessions targeting child labor and forced labor
throughout Lebanon. In collaboration with World Vision, the HCC
held six workshops (from June to October 2009) with stakeholders
from the public and private sectors, including NGOs, associations,
and municipalities to raise awareness of child trafficking.
(SBU) The Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI) established a
child labor unit in 2005 with the help of the ILO. In 2009 it held
only one workshop specifically on child labor, but it continued a
general awareness campaign and distributed booklets on child labor
during all association events. Child labor, which was mainly
concentrated in informal sectors of the economy, was minimal within
the 800 ALI member companies, all of which must be registered at the
Ministry of Industry.
2. (SBU) The ministerial statement of the new cabinet prioritizes
social welfare and economic development, but does not specifically
mention child labor. ILO and MOL contacts assess, however, that the
minister of labor will tackle child labor issues.
3. (SBU) The HCC awareness workshops were funded by World Vision.
The government did not independently fund any such programs.
4. (SBU) The GOL did not provide any non-monetary support to child
labor programs, aside from encouraging MOL employees from the Child
Labor Unit to attend workshops and conferences that improved their
understanding of child labor issues.
5. (SBU) According to the HCC, the MOSA contracted 14
non-governmental organizations throughout Lebanon to provide health,
education, and rehabilitation services to children at risk. MOSA
contributed about $5 million to these organizations in 2009. The
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MOL did not have any programs that provided social services to
children at risk of or involved in exploitive child labor.
6. (SBU) In 2009, the GOL did not sign any bilateral or
international agreements to combat trafficking.
2G: CONTINUAL PROGRESS
(SBU) Although several key pieces of legislation to address child
and forced labor issues have been pending in parliament or in the
drafting stages for years, political instability has distracted the
GOL from prioritizing the issue. The new national unity government
has pledged its desire to focus on social issues going forward, and
hopes are high among anti-trafficking and child labor NGOs. The new
minister of labor has committed to tackling child labor and
prioritized modernizing the Labor Law. As a result, 2010 should be
a key year in determining the GOL's commitment to addressing issues
of child and forced labor.