Cablegate: Republic of Congo: Information On Child Labor and Forced
PP RUEHBZ RUEHGI
DE RUEHBZ #0048/01 0431322
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 121322Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1733
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0589
RUEHLC/AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE 0092
RUEHGI/AMEMBASSY BANGUI 0068
RUEHLU/AMEMBASSY LUANDA 0054
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 0099
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBZ/AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE 2165
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 BRAZZAVILLE 000048
DOL/ILAB FOR STROTKAMP, RIGBY, MCCARTER
DRL/ILCSR FOR MORGAN, DANG
G/TIP FOR CDEBACA, YOUSEY
AF/C FOR KORTE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD PHUM SOCI CF
SUBJECT: REPUBLIC OF CONGO: INFORMATION ON CHILD LABOR AND FORCED
REF: STATE 131995
1. Summary: According to Congo's most recent census of 2005, 71
percent of children between the ages of 5 to 17 work, 97 percent
of which work in the home. Exploitative child labor in the
Republic of Congo is estimated by the government at 1339
children, of which 10 percent are girls. Children primarily work
in the informal sector, either with their families or in forced
service activities, including street vending, prostitution, and
domestic labor. Current legislation does not protect children
who are exploited in the informal sectors in the Congo. The
Ministry of Labor uncovered nine cases of child trafficking and
labor in Point Noire, but these cases have been pending for up
to two years. There have been no prosecutions from these cases.
Congo's laws with regard to child labor are not adequate at the
moment but the Parliament passed in August 2009 the Child
Protection Code, which awaits the President's signature. End
FORCED LABOR AND EXPLOITATIVE CHILD LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION OF
2. In Congo, child labor is primarily limited to the informal
sector in the service areas of vending, domestic work, and
prostitution. The Republic of Congo does not have a highly
developed production industry. There are few factories in Congo
and very few goods, with the exception of oil and lumber, which
are refined and/or processed for export. Children are rarely
found working in these industries due to the demanding nature of
the work and the high competition from adult laborers who are
better suited to the tasks. The Ministry of Labor and the
Ministry of Justice have not produced any reports on
exploitative child labor in any production industry.
PREVALENCE AND SECTORAL DISTRIBUTION OF EXPLOITATIVE CHILD LABOR
3. Child exploitative labor occurs primarily in the informal
sector, including the services of market vending, domestic work,
and child prostitution.
4. Domestic work: Children may be exploited as domestic
servants, exchanging long hours and hard labor for room and
board. Children from villages may be trafficked to the cities
of Pointe Noire and Brazzaville in order to serve as domestic
staff for relatives, often with the support of their parents
under the belief that the children will be properly educated and
cared for. There is no reliable data on the instance of child
domestic labor in the Congo.
5. Prostitution: The government of Congo does not have
information on rates of child prostitution. UNICEF estimated in
2007 that of the trafficked population in the Congo, 23 percent
of children are forced into prostitution with an average age of
nine years. There is no data available on the general child
6. Market vending: This trend is prominent in Brazzaville and
Pointe Noire, where there is a high presence of child vendors in
traditional local markets. According to UNICEF, the majority of
trafficked children are exploited in this manner. Children may
be forced to work long hours for no or little pay in order to
earn as little as 1,000 CFA (approximately 2 USD) per day.
7. The Congolese government did not collect or publish data on
LAWS AND REGULATIONS
8. The Labor Code sets the minimum age for employment, including
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apprenticeships, at 16 years. Exceptions may be permitted by the
Ministry of Labor after an inspection of the place of
employment. The code prohibits forced or compulsory labor. The
minimum age of enlistment for service in the armed forces in the
Republic of Congo is 18.
9. Although there is currently no law specifically prohibiting
the worst forms of child labor in the Republic of Congo, there
are statutes under which the worst forms can be prosecuted.
Since 1999, the Government of the Republic of Congo has
submitted to the ILO a document identifying hazardous forms of
work prohibited to minors under Convention 182 or Convention
138. Congo's Parliament passed in August 2009 the Child
Protection Code, which awaits the President's signature.
10. The Penal Code criminalizes procuring a person for the
purpose of prostitution and establishes penalties of ten years
of imprisonment and a fine of 10,000,000 CFA (USD 17,847.60) if
such an act is committed with respect to a minor. While the law
does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, under
existing laws, traffickers could be prosecuted for slavery,
rape, prostitution, forced labor, and illegal immigration.
INSTITUTIONS AND MECHANISMS FOR ENFORCEMENT
11. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for enforcing child
labor laws and monitors businesses in the formal sector, but
most child labor occurs in the informal sector or in rural areas
that lack effective government oversight.
12. The Congo does not have a formal mechanism in place for
making complaints about hazardous or forced child labor,
although complaints on child labor can be brought to the
Ministry of Labor officials.
13. The Ministry of Labor employs 17 full-time inspectors and 11
part-time inspectors, none of which are specifically tasked with
monitoring child labor. According to the Ministry of Labor, they
conduct two inspections of each company per year. The Ministry
discovered nine cases of child labor from 2006-2009, all of
which were in Pointe Noire. No prosecutions or fines have
resulted from these cases.
INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS FOR EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT
14. The Ministry of Social Affairs has approximately ten
inspectors located in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire that are
responsible for identifying victims of child trafficking. The
numbers of investigators are adequate, but training and
resources for these individuals is extremely limited.
Investigators lack proper offices, transportation, and wages in
order to carry out their duties.
15. The Government provided $60,500 in partnership with UNICEF,
who provided $140,000 for the purpose of investigating victims
of child trafficking.
16. The Ministry of Labor does not conduct investigations
specifically for child labor issues. If in the event of labor
investigations child labor is discovered, the issue will be
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addressed. Investigations can last from three to seven months.
17. Currently, there are eight children that are in the process
of repatriation after being discovered as victims of trafficking
and child labor. These children are currently being held in
foster homes in Pointe Noire until the processes are completed
at the Ministry of Social Affairs in order to return the
children to their native countries.
18. There are no current convictions on child labor. There are
only pending cases up to two years old without convictions.
19. Government officials as well as courts officials were unable
to provide detailed statistics of cases brought in front of
court of law that dealt with child labor primarily. However,
they reported that about one third of people sentenced for child
trafficking were also sentenced for illegal child labor.
GOVERNMENT POLICIES ON CHILD LABOR
20. The Government of the Republic of Congo participated in a
three-year inter-regional ILO-IPEC project, funded by USDOL in
2003 and 2006, to reintegrate children involved in armed
conflicts into communities and prevent children from becoming
involved in armed conflicts. USDOL is providing USD 7 million
to the seven-country project.
21. The government has also established the High Commission for
Reintegration of Ex-Combatants, which has worked to demobilize
child soldiers and offers them financial support and technical
training. With funding from UNICEF, the Department of Social
Affairs established the Traumatized Children Project, which
provides counseling for former child soldiers.
22. The government is implementing a National Plan of Action for
Education for All that, among other goals, aims to improve
quality of and access to preschool, primary, non-formal, and
vocational technical education by the year 2015. The plan also
includes specific goals for increasing girls' school attendance.
23. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided over $14
million in-kind resources over fiscal years 2006 to 2008 to
support school feeding and other programs operated by an
American NGO, International Partnership for Human Development
(IPHD). These programs support school feeding, malaria
prevention in schools, distribution of school supplies,
scholarships for girls, construction of water cisterns for
schools, development of parent-teacher associations (PTAs), and
SOCIAL PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE OR PREVENT CHILD LABOR
24. The government did not implement any social programs
specifically designed to address the worst forms of child labor.
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25. The government made some progress in combating child labor
during the reporting period. This is indicated by the increased
number of investigations into child trafficking, in which
children are often the victims of exploitative child labor.
There is also increased funding and government involvement in
anti-trafficking efforts, including the August 2009 passage of a
Child Protection Code. This law, however, is still pending
presidential signature in order to be put into effect.