Cablegate: Bangladesh Response to 2008 Dol Request for Trade And
RR RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHHM RUEHJO RUEHLH RUEHMA RUEHNEH
DE RUEHKA #0149/01 0540953
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230953Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0039
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
INFO RUCNCLC/CHILD LABOR COLLECTIVE
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 DHAKA 000149
DOL/ILAB FOR: LEYLA STROTKAMP, RACHEL RIGBY AND TINA MCCARTER
DRL/ILSCR FOR: SARAH MORGAN
G/TIP: LUIS C de BACA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD PHUM SOCI USAID BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH RESPONSE TO 2008 DOL REQUEST FOR TRADE AND
DEVELOPMENT ACT (GSP) 2008 REPORT
REF: A) 08 DHAKA 618, B) 08 DHAKA 745 C) 09 DHAKA 130, D) 09
1. (U) This cable responds to Ref D request for additional
regarding exploitative child labor in Bangladesh under the Trade and
Development Act of 2000 (TDA). As there is no new information on
the use of forced labor and/or exploitative child labor in the
production of goods, Ref A and B respond to the request for
information under the TVPRA. Exploitative child labor was found in
a number of industries but largely in the informal sector. The
Government of Bangladesh had two separate mechanisms for dealing
with crimes against children: one focused on combating labor law
violations and the other on dealing with trafficking crimes. While
the GOB made efforts to strengthen the capacity of both mechanisms,
a lack of resources severely hampered progress.
2. (U) Responses are keyed to Ref D tasking cable.
A) Prevalence and sectoral distribution of exploitative child labor
In what sectors (not related to the production of goods) were
children involved in exploitative child labor?
RESPONSE: Owing to the country's economic conditions, child labor
persists in some formal and almost all informal sectors. The
country is one of less than 50 nations designed by the United
Nations as a "least developed country" (LDC). Labor experts estimate
that the informal sector employed approximately 70 percent of
working children in urban areas, and another 20 percent of children
were employed as domestic workers. According to a 2006 study by the
Bangladesh Institute of Labor studies, attacks on children
constituted more than 50 percent of the deaths, injuries and sexual
assaults reported among domestic workers during the year. In rural
areas, most working children were employed in the agriculture
sector. Child labor could be found in domestic work, street
vending, begging, prostitution, portering, ship-breaking,
shoe-shining, shops, restaurants and farming. According to the
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics' National Child Labor Survey (2003),
nearly 14 percent of all children between the ages 5-14 were engaged
in some form of employment. According to the United Nations
Childrens Fund (UNICEF), there are an estimated 7.4 million children
working in Bangladesh, 1.3 million of whom are considered to be
working in hazardous conditions (roughly 17 percent). In almost all
instances, children worked out of sheer economic necessity to
support themselves and their families.
Did the Government collect or publish data on exploitative child
labor during the period? If so, would the government provide the
data set to DOL for further analysis?
RESPONSE: The Government of Bangladesh (GOB) did not collect or
publish comprehensive data on exploitative child labor in 2009. The
Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) did collect information on
trafficking cases, including trafficking of children. The 2003 NCLS
was the last comprehensive study of child labor in the country.
There have been no updates since then.
In 2006 the International Labor Organization (ILO) released the
Baseline Survey for Determining Hazardous Child Labor Sectors in
Bangladesh, jointly published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
and the ILO. The report identified 45 sectors along with an
estimated number of child workers in each sector. The seven sectors
that employed the most children were: restaurant / tea stall;
rickshaw/van puller; fishing / fish drying; carpentry; welding
works; automobile workshop; rice/ spices milling. The study
estimated that a total of 539,403 children were employed in
Bangladesh across the 45 listed sectors. Most observers agreed that
such studies only provided a small snapshot of the problem.
B) Laws and regulations proscribing the worst forms of child labor.
What new laws or regulations were enacted in regard to exploitative
child labor over the past year? If applicable were the changes
improvements in the legal and regulatory framework?
RESPONSE: No new laws or regulations were enacted in regard to
exploitative child labor over the past year. The government has
formulated a National Child Labor Policy that has yet to be
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approved. Child labor concerns were also part of the government's
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). See section E below for
further details On the National Child Labor Policy and the PRSP.
(NOTE: Ref C contains a review of existing laws covering child
labor. END NOTE.)
Based on the standards in paras 27 and 28, was the
country/territory's legal and regulatory framework adequate for
addressing exploitative child labor?
RESPONSE: Labor rights groups concurred that the country's legal
and regulatory framework was mostly adequate for addressing
exploitative child labor. Bangladesh has not yet ratified ILO
Convention 138 on Minimum Age, but was in line with Recommendation
190, on worst forms of child labor. Most observers agreed that lack
of awareness and poverty were key enabling factors, as the latter
forced millions of children to work for the survival of themselves
and their families. Weak enforcement as a result of resource
constraints (including manpower shortages and poor compensation for
civil servants) and a corrupt and inefficient judicial system were
also to blame.
C) Institutions and mechanisms for enforcement.
Section I: Hazardous Child Labor
What agency or agencies was/were responsible for the enforcement of
laws relating to hazardous child labor/forced child labor?
RESPONSE: The GOB addresses the issue of hazardous child
labor/forced child labor as a part of the broader issue of labor law
violations. Two labor law enforcement bodies exist within the
Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) for this purpose. The
Directorate of Labor did not typically use its enforcement
capabilities. The Chief Inspector of the Department of Factories
and Establishments was the primary enforcer of labor laws and
conducted random inspections in factories, shops and other
establishments nationwide. The inspections teams also visited tea
estates. Inspections cover four broad areas: health, hygiene,
safety and general matters - including payment of wages, overtime,
and child labor. In practice, child labor was not the main focus of
labor inspections, and mostly because of resource constraints the
MOLE did not focus on sectors where child labor was more of an
issue. The Inspector presents violations (including the illicit use
of child labor) to the factory owner for remedy within 21 days. The
Inspector checks for compliance and issues a second letter if no
remedy has been made. The next step is legal action in the form of
a complaint to a labor court. A court enforcement action takes at
least 4 to 5 months to implement and can take 2 to 3 years or
longer. The Chief Inspector reported that most violations were
remedied with a verbal warning at the time of inspection. However,
in rare cases the GOB will impose fines of 5,000 taka (approximately
$75) per violation. Overall, the Chief Inspector claimed the law
was sufficient, but noted his department did not have adequate
resources to monitor and enforce labor laws for the entire country.
Separately, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has taken a lead role in
the creation of ad hoc institutions to improve labor standards more
broadly. For example, a tripartite entity for the ready-made
garments (RMG) sector, the Social Compliance Forum (SCF), has
existed since June 2005. The SCF deals chiefly with occupational
safety and labor welfare issues and includes a monitoring cell.
Since its inception the SCF has focused primarily on awareness
building and information gathering. It also serves in an advisory
capacity for new initiatives in the areas of occupational safety and
The MOLE and the International Labor Organization (ILO) have also
looked into the possibility of creating a monitoring cell to record
child labor violations, as part of a larger unit on child labor.
That project is still in its incipient stages. The aim of the Child
Labor Unit would be to plan, manage, coordinate, monitor and oversee
the implementation of child labor programs across the country.
Separately, the GOB has been in the process of creating a Children's
Directorate under the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs,
which will be responsible for coordinating all activities related to
children, functioning in a similar capacity to the Child Labor Unit
in the MOLE.
UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Social Welfare to design and
institute a national monitoring system on child protection.
While law enforcement officials did not address child labor issues
per se, if a child was a victim of trafficking, the case fell under
the purview of the police and was noted by the anti-trafficking
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monitoring cell at the Police Headquarters in Dhaka, which is part
of the Home Ministry. Depending on the case, the Rapid Action
Battalion (RAB), an anti-crime paramilitary unit, also became
involved in investigation and enforcement. Sex trafficking and
forced labor are among the crimes covered by the monitoring cell.
The cell's main aim is to gather information on trafficking cases
from local police stations (found in each of the country's 64
districts), publish data on the extent of the problem, apprehend
those involved in trafficking crimes, and track and assist local law
enforcement authorities with the prosecution of human trafficking
cases. The Home Ministry also recently started a special
"Trafficking in Human Beings" (THB) project as part of the Police
Reform Program supported by the United Nations Development Program
(UNDP), Britain's Department for International Development (DFID),
the European Commission (EC) and the Government of Bangladesh. The
THB project includes an investigation unit looking into all forms of
trafficking with 12 police officers who receive training on
investigative techniques. The Home Ministry is also working with
the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to develop a
special anti-trafficking course for students at the National Police
If multiple agencies were responsible for enforcement, were there
mechanisms for exchanging information? Assess their effectiveness.
RESPONSE: Enforcement of labor laws was the responsibility of the
MOLE, whereas trafficking-related cases fell under the domain of the
police, the anti-trafficking monitoring cell and the Ministry of
Home Affairs. Mechanisms for exchanging information between these
institutions at the working level were largely ad hoc and informal,
and coordination was sometimes weak, resulting in gaps in coverage.
On trafficking issues, the two Ministries (MOLE and MOHA) met at a
high level, during monthly inter-ministerial meetings chaired by the
Did the country/territory maintain a mechanism for making complaints
about hazardous and forced child labor violations? If so, how many
complaints were received in the reporting period?
RESPONSE: Complaints regarding child labor are directed to the
MOLE, namely the office of the Chief Inspector of the Department of
Factories and Establishments. According to the Chief Inspector and
Deputy Chief Inspector, Engineering, the Department did not receive
any complaints about hazardous or forced child labor violations in
the past year.
What amount of funding was provided to agencies responsible for
inspections? Was this amount adequate? Did inspectors have
sufficient office facilities, transportation, fuel and other
necessities to carry out inspections?
RESPONSE: According to the Chief Inspector, the budget for the
Inspectorate, which has a staff of 198 employees, was roughly 300
million taka ($4.5 million). Of the Inspectorate's 198 employees,
155 are inspectors. There were 87 job vacancies in the entire
Inspectorate. The Chief Inspector claimed that the agency was
severely under-resourced and unable to properly carry out its
functions despite the rapid growth in certain sectors like the
ready-made garments industry. For example, there was only one
official vehicle available nationwide to the entire Inspectorate.
How many inspectors did the government employ? Was the number of
RESPONSE: The Inspectorate of the Department of Factories and
Establishments is the primary entity responsible for enforcing all
labor laws (including child labor laws). It has 31 offices
throughout the country, including a head office and four divisional
offices, as well as regional and branch offices. There are a total
of 155 inspectors and 43 support staff involved in the inspections
of factories, shops, and establishments, including tea estates.
There are currently 87 unfilled positions in the Inspectorate, a
number of which are for the position of inspector. Inspectors of
different ranks conduct a specific number of factory and shop
inspections each month. These inspectors also respond to crisis
conditions as they come up. According to the Deputy Chief
Inspector, Engineering, in a given month, a senior inspector
inspects at least five factories, whereas "first and second class
officers" inspect approximately 15 factories per month. A "third
class" officer inspects roughly 100 shops and other establishments
(banks, other offices, tea estates) per month. This staff is
responsible for investigating child labor as part of its broader
How many inspections involving child labor were carried out? If
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possible please provide breakdown of compliant driven versus random,
government initiated inspections. Were inspections carried out in
sectors in which children work? Was the number of inspections
RESPONSE: There were no inspections specifically for child labor;
rather child labor was one consideration during general labor
inspections. According to the Deputy Chief Inspector, Engineering,
between January 2009 and December 2009, the GOB conducted a total of
51,337 inspections relating to violations of labor law across
Bangladesh, up from 39,123 inspections the year before. During
these inspections, all aspects of applicable labor laws were
reviewed, including laws dealing with child labor.
According to the Ministry of Labor, approximately 770 cases were
filed in 2009. Based on a conversation with the Chief Inspector, in
the month of December 2009, 91 cases were filed in labor courts,
none of which related to child labor. According to the Chief
Inspector and others, very few of the cases filed related to child
labor law violations. Representatives from the international wing
of the AFL-CIO, the American Center for International Labor
Solidarity, also noted that few, if any, of the labor cases filed
over the past several years were related to child labor. Moreover,
the Chief Inspector claimed that many sectors covered by the
inspections regime, including garments and shrimp, were largely free
of child labor. Observers agree that child labor was usually found
in smaller ancillary industries rather than major ones like garments
though doubted whether the government was capable of making such
How many children were removed/assisted as a result of inspections?
Were these children actually provided or referred for services as a
RESPONSE: According to the Chief Inspector, no children were
removed as a result of inspection and very few instances of child
labor were discovered.
How many child labor cases or prosecutions were opened?
RESPONSE: The Chief Inspector did not have data on this but there
were over 770 cases filed in labor courts in 2009. Both the GOB and
NGOs concurred, however, that very few of the cases being heard in
labor courts over the past several years involved child labor.
How many child labor cases were closed or resolved?
RESPONSE: The Chief Inspector was unable to provide a precise
figure. Cases in the labor courts were generally resolved in two to
three years time.
How many violations were found or convictions reached?
RESPONSE: The Chief Inspector could not provide an accurate figure
of this amount given that very few of the cases over the past
several years related to child labor.
What is the average length of time it took to resolve child labor
RESPONSE: There was no breakdown for child labor cases specifically
but in general, cases taken to the labor court can last anywhere
from four to five months up to two or three years.
In cases in which violations were found, were penalties actually
applied, either through fines paid or jail sentences served? Did
such sentences meet penalties established in the law?
RESPONSE: There were no figures on the child labor cases in labor
courts specifically. However, penalties for general labor law
violations ranged from fines to administrative punishments and
sentences did meet those established in the law. In the case of the
shrimp industry, general labor compliance was a key prerequisite in
the licensing and registration of factories. Penalties for
individuals involved in trafficking case ranged in severity and
included life imprisonment.
Did the experience regarding the above questions reflect a
commitment to combat exploitative child labor?
RESPONSE: The GOB was committed to combating exploitative child
labor but was constrained by inadequate resources. The current
enforcement mechanisms (through the labor inspectors and police)
were neither broad enough in scope nor well coordinated enough to
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deal with the complexity of the child labor issue. Given the limited
scope of the MOLE's inspections regime, identification of and action
against certain types of exploitative child labor, including forced
child labor and trafficking, often fell to law enforcement
Did government offer any training for investigators or others
responsible for enforcement? If so, what (if any) impact have these
RESPONSE: The Ministry of Labor (MOL) reported that labor
inspectors received general training on labor law, which includes
child labor provisions. At the ministry and policy level, officials
receive additional training from the ILO. Field staff receive
additional training on child labor on an ad-hoc basis, provided by
NGOs, the ILO, and during periodic courses at government training
The German Technical Corporation (GTZ), through its PROGRESS
project, has worked with the MOLE to offer foundation and refresher
training courses for labor inspectors. In 2009, the GTZ trained
over 50 inspectors. The training focused on all aspects of
Bangladesh labor law but predominantly on occupational health and
safety issues such as workplace hazards, measuring noise levels and
air pollution, chemical handling and fire and electrical safety.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) sponsored a four-day
training program on Child Labor and Education attended by high level
officials of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, the
Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and the Ministry of Labor
Section II: Forced Child Labor
The answers to questions in this section are the same as that for
the section on hazardous child labor. For responses to questions in
the context of forced child labor see above.
D) Institutional mechanisms for effective enforcement
Section I: Child trafficking
Did the country/territory have agencies or personnel dedicated to
enforcement of child trafficking/CSEC/use of children in illicit
activities? How many investigators/social workers/dedicated police
officers did the government employ to conduct investigations? If
there were no dedicated agencies or personnel, provide an estimate
of the number of people who were responsible for such
investigations. Was the number of investigators adequate?
RESPONSE: There was no single agency dedicated to the enforcement
of child trafficking/CSEC/use of children in illicit activities.
The main agency responsible for these violations is the Bangladesh
police. While law enforcement officials do not address child labor
issues per se, if a child was a victim of trafficking, it fell under
the purview of the police, RAB and the anti-trafficking monitoring
cell at police headquarters in Dhaka. The Home Ministry is also in
charge of the THB investigation unit with 12 police officers who are
given training on investigative techniques. The number of
investigators to tackle such crimes was not adequate.
How much funding was provided to agencies responsible for
investigating child trafficking/CSEC/use of children in illicit
activities? Was this amount adequate? Did investigators have
sufficient office facilities, transportation, fuel and other
necessities to carry out investigations?
RESPONSE: The THB was one component of a $13.3 million Police
Reform Program supported by the UNDP, DfID, EC and the Government of
Did the country/territory maintain a hotline or other mechanism for
reporting child trafficking/CSEC/use of children in illicit
activities violations? If so, how many complaints were received in
the reporting period?
RESPONSE: There was no such hotline in Bangladesh apart from the
regular mechanism used to make complaints to the police and the
country's national monitoring cell at police headquarters in Dhaka.
How many investigations were opened in regard to child
trafficking/CSEC/use of children in illicit activities? Was the
number of investigations adequate?
RESPONSE: According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 65 cases were
filed with respect to trafficking of women and children from
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February 2009-February 2010. Authorities conducted a total of 26
trafficking investigations. Independent observers concur that the
number of cases and investigations probably represented a fraction
of the total instances of child trafficking/CSEC/use of children in
illicit activities. Civil society groups estimate that roughly
10,000-20,000 women and children are victims of trafficking every
year in Bangladesh. A UNICEF study however, estimated that there
are 4,000 women and children victims of trafficking every month.
How many children were rescued as a result?
RESPONSE: According to the MOHA, 68 trafficking victims were
rescued between February 2009-February 2010, 30 of whom were
How many arrests were made or other kinds of prosecutions carried
RESPONSE: According to the MOHA, authorities prosecuted 68
trafficking cases, mostly involving women and children).
How many cases were closed or resolved?
RESPONSE: According to the MOHA, the GOB closed 66 cases during
this period, 28 of which were from 2008. In another 21 cases, the
police submitted a final report, which indicated that charges had
not been proven.
How many convictions?
RESPONSE: There were convictions in 19 cases.
Did sentences imposed meet standards established in the legal
RESPONSE: Yes, 24 individuals received life sentences and another
eight received other penalties.
Were sentences imposed actually served?
RESPONSE: Sentences imposed were generally served, however many
cases did not reach the prosecution stage because of lack of
evidence or because the trafficker often settled with the families
of victims out of court.
What is the average length of time it takes to resolve cases of
child trafficking/CSEC/use of children in illicit activities?
RESPONSE: Of the cases that actually went to trial, most typically
took between one to three years to resolve.
Did the government offer any training for investigators or others
responsible for enforcement of child trafficking/CSEC/use of
children in illicit activities? If so, what was the impact (if any)
of these trainings?
RESPONSE: There were several trafficking related training programs
for government officials. Most were sponsored by NGOs and
international donors. The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and
Overseas Employment conducted a refresher course for nearly 20 labor
attaches (working in overseas missions) and officials from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This course included a one-day session
on trafficking, led by the International Organization for Migration
(IOM). Separately, IOM trained 325 government officials from law
enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Social Welfare on victim
care and support. Lastly, the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers
Association (BNWLA) also conducted training for members of different
law enforcement agencies.
If the country/territory experienced armed conflict during the
reporting period or in the recent past involving the use of child
soldiers, what actions were taken to penalize those responsible?
Were these actions adequate or meaningful given the situation?
RESPONSE: Not applicable.
Section II: Commercial Sexual exploitation of Children (CSEC)
The answers to questions in this section are the same as that for
the section on hazardous child trafficking. For responses to
questions in the context of CSEC see above.
Section III: Use of Children in illicit activities
The answers to questions in this section are the same as that for
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the section on hazardous child trafficking. For responses to
questions in the context of the use of children in illicit
activities see above.
E) GOVERNMENT POLICIES ON CHILD LABOR:
Did the government have a policy or plan that specifically addresses
exploitive child labor? Please describe. (Please note that DOL will
not consider anti-poverty, education or other general child welfare
policies to be addressing exploitive child labor unless they have a
child labor component.)
RESPONSE: A modification of a national child labor policy
originally drafted in 2008 has been submitted to the Cabinet for
approval. It specifically seeks to eliminate the worst forms of
child labor in multiple phases. It also calls for more research
into the subject and to set up bodies to coordinate activities in
The Third National Plan of Action for Children (2005-2010) includes
child labor within broader objectives. Administered by Bangladesh's
Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the plan identifies five
areas of action: Food and Nutrition, Health, Education, Protection,
and Physical Environment. Child labor is addressed within the
Protection area of action. The national action plan employs a
rights-based model and seeks to develop district-level child rights
monitoring functions. The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs
seeks to coordinate with all relevant ministries and district
committees to enhance awareness and generate actions in protection
of child rights. To implement this plan, the Ministry of Women and
Children's Affairs is working with UNICEF on a (2006-2010) project
entitled Capacity Building for Monitoring Child Rights.
The GOB is also in partnership with the ILO on the Urban Informal
Economy Project sponsored by the Government of Netherlands to
contribute to the elimination and prevention of worst forms of child
labor in the urban informal economy of Bangladesh. This will be
accomplished through protection, education and preparation for
future employment, social and economic development and capacity
As part of this, at the local government level, Dhaka City
Corporation, has (since 2008) been in an agreement with the ILO to
implement this program with several local NGOs.
Did the country/territory incorporate exploitive child labor
specifically as an issue to be addressed in poverty reduction,
development, educational or other social policies, such as Poverty
Reduction Strategy Papers, etc? Please describe.
RESPONSE: The Government of Bangladesh's 2005 National Strategy for
Accelerated Poverty Reduction specifically articulates Child Rights
as a priority and addresses child labor. Child-related issues are
also detailed elsewhere. In October 2008, the country unveiled a
second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper for three years starting in
FY '09 (FY'2009-2011). Section 5.1.2 mentions development of
children as one of the overarching strategies to address poverty.
One of the government's stated goals is to protect child laborers
and eliminate the worst forms of child labor. Specifically it seeks
to build greater awareness of the problem of child labor, create a
child friendly code of conduct for employers, draft minimum wage and
protective standards regulations and improve learning opportunities
for working children. The PRSP also notes that alternatives should
be created for those children in danger of being trafficked.
Did the government provide funding to the plans described above?
Please describe the amount and whether it was sufficient to carry
out the planned activities.
RESPONSE: The government has committed some resources to the joint
project with UNICEF entitled "Capacity building for monitoring
children's rights." The PRSP will cost an estimated $51 billion to
implement, of which roughly $38 billion is expected to come from the
government though the government had not yet dedicated the funds to
Did the government provide non-monetary support to child labor
plans? Please describe.
RESPONSE: Apart from dedicating human resources to the drafting
of the national plan of action, elements of the PRSP and the joint
UNICEF project, the GOB has not provided any non-monetary support.
Provide any additional information about the status and
effectiveness of the government's policies or plans during the
reporting period in regard to exploitive child labor.
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RESPONSE: The government's plans to combat exploitative child
labor under the mechanism of dealing with labor issues (as opposed
to the law enforcement apparatus) are still in the early stages.
The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs largely plays a
coordinating rather than an enforcement role in this regard.
Did the government participate in any commissions or task forces
regarding exploitive child labor? Was the commission active and/or
RESPONSE: The GOB did not participate in any commissions or task
forces regarding exploitative child labor
Did the government sign a bilateral, regional or international
agreement to combat trafficking?
RESPONSE: The Government indicated a willingness to modify the
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention
on Trafficking. Changes proposed by civil society would broaden the
definition to include male victims of trafficking and trafficking
for other exploitative purposes, including forced labor.
F) SOCIAL PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE OR PREVENT CHILD LABOR:
Did the government implement any programs specifically to address
the worst forms of child labor? Please describe. (Please note that
DOL will not consider anti-poverty, education or other general child
welfare programs to be addressing exploitive child labor unless
have a child labor component.)
RESPONSE: The GOB, under the MOLE, partially funded its own
national program entitled Eradication of Hazardous Child Labor in
Bangladesh. NGOs implement this program, which covers 21 sectors,
including rickshaw pulling, printing, domestic work, welding and
fabrication, automotive repair, brick and stone breaking, machine
shops, hotels and restaurants, cigarettes, match factories,
tanneries, salt factories, daily labor, battery factories, dyeing
operations, potters assistance, blacksmith's assistants, minibus
assistance, construction, shrimp factories, and saw mills. In its
second phase, this program received 298 million taka (USD 4.2
million) for three years. Given prior delays in implementation, the
program stretched its funds to a fourth year of operations and
expired in June 2009. The primary focus of the program was to
provide non-formal education and skills training. Over 30,000
children working in 21 designated hazardous labor categories were
trained in the last four years. The program attempted to transition
children out of hazardous labor conditions through the provision of
additional skills. The program included a micro-credit component
that provided the children's families with alternative income
generating opportunities. As many as 20,000 families received loans
ranging from 5 to 10 thousand taka (USD 75 to 150). The program
also had a public information dimension, including anti-child labor
pamphlets. NGOs are also developing other areas of mass media
messaging. At least one of the implementing NGOs involved in this
project conducts parallel non-formal education activities focusing
on child workers. For example, ESDO (Eco-Social Development
Organization), a local NGO, is conducting a non-formal education
program for 35,185 children to eradicate hazardous child labor in
The GOB also permits NGOs to remove children from the worst forms of
child labor. UNICEF's Basic Education for Hard to Reach Urban
Children (BEHTRUC) provides 351,000 urban working children in six
divisional cities with two years of non-formal education,
specifically targeting urban children aged 8-14 employed in
hazardous working conditions.
Did the country/territory incorporate child labor specifically as an
issue to be addressed in poverty reduction, development, educational
or other social programs, such as conditional cash transfer programs
or eligibility for school meals, etc? Please describe.
RESPONSE: Yes it did in the PRSP, please see discussion above.
Did the government provide funding to the programs described above?
Please describe amount and whether it was sufficient to carry out
the planned activities.
RESPONSE: The government provided partial funding to the MOLE
project but has not yet dedicated funds to the PRSP.
Did the government provide non-monetary support to child labor
programs? Please describe.
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RESPONSE: Apart from human resources, the government did not provide
any non-monetary support.
Provide any additional information about the status and
effectiveness of the government's activities during the reporting
period in relation to the programs described above. If the programs
involved government provision of social services to children at risk
of or involved in exploitive child labor, please describe and assess
the effectiveness of
RESPONSE: See above.
The Eradication of Hazardous Child Labor project has been successful
in achieving outcomes. Bangladesh incorporates the issue of child
labor into its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which is described
above but is yet to develop these strategies into something more
If the government signed one or more bilateral, regional or
international agreement/s to combat trafficking, what steps did it
take to implement such agreement/s? Did the agreement/s result in
tangible improvements? If so, please describe.
RESPONSE: Please note the discussion above. The government is
considering putting forth a modification to the SAARC Convention on
G) CONTINUAL PROGRESS:
Considering the information provided to the questions above, please
provide an assessment of whether, overall, the government made
progress in regard to combating exploitive child labor during the
reporting period. In making this assessment, please indicate
whether there has
been an increase or decrease from previous years in
inspections/investigations, prosecutions, and convictions; funding
for child labor elimination policies and programs; and any other
relevant indicators of government commitment.
RESPONSE: Child labor has been significantly reduced in the seafood
(particularly shrimp) industry, to the extent that most independent
analysts agree that the mainstream processing plants are "nearly
child labor free." NGOs still contend, however, that the child
labor and forced labor exists in shrimp farming, through the use of
third party contractors and family farms. Regarding the RMG
industry, worker advocacy groups agree that within Export Processing
Zones (where many garments are produced), child labor is essentially
absent. Major garment producers are also essentially child labor
free. However, the groups question the claim that all subcontracting
and supply operations serving the garment industry have fully
eliminated child labor. For example, children may be involved with
assisting their parents in performing garment piece work or in
ancillary support roles such as serving tea and making deliveries.
Based on GOB efforts, donor funded efforts, buyer requirements, and
NGO programs to combat the worst forms of child labor, it appears
that progress in addressing child labor is being made in Bangladesh.
However, in the absence of reliable or consistent annual surveys it
is impossible to provide quantitative analysis to assess the impact
of GOB and NGO efforts to combat the worst forms of child labor.
3. (SBU) The continued existence of exploitative child labor in
Bangladesh is a direct function of the country's low level of
economic development. The government's weak enforcement mechanism
is only one such contributing factor. The country's per capita GDP
is $600 per year and 80% of its population lives on less than $2 a
day. Bangladesh's heavy reliance on subsistence agriculture and the
high incidence of poverty contribute to child labor practices. In
many cases, the opportunity costs of sending a child to school
instead of work are insurmountable without monetary incentives. The
size and scope of the informal economy, (especially in its linkages
to the formal economy) combined with a low capacity for effective
legal enforcement of child labor laws are factors that constrain
regulatory approaches to the problem of child labor.
4. (SBU) The GOB makes a clear distinction between child labor in
general and its worst exploitative forms. While the GOB
acknowledges child labor is a consequence of Bangladesh's poverty,
it focuses its limited resources on specific policy and program
steps to ameliorate the worst forms of child labor, in particular
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child trafficking and exploitation. The presence of two separate
mechanisms to combat exploitative child labor is a big handicap,
however. On one hand, there is a well established though narrowly
focused mechanism to deal with violations of labor law, namely the
MOLE's inspection team. Most civil society groups agree that the
inspections team is under-resourced and far too weak to effectively
deal with the problem of child labor against the litany of other
labor issues. Separately, the police are narrowly focused on child
trafficking from a law enforcement angle. In the future, a
specialized entity dedicated to this problem and offering better
coordination between the different actors could make significant
progress in Bangladesh. Increasing involvement by U.S. retailers
who source products directly from Bangladesh will also have a
positive impact on continuing efforts to eliminate child labor.