Cablegate: Timor-Leste: Information On Child Labor and Forced Labor

Published: Thu 4 Feb 2010 06:38 AM
DE RUEHDT #0027/01 0350638
P R 040638Z FEB 10
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: A. A) STATE 131995
B. B) 08 DILI 41
1. Summary: Child labor in Timor-Leste remains pervasive and
difficult to quantify (see ref B for further background).
Children work in agriculture, as street and market vendors, and
as domestic laborers. Although there is some anecdotal evidence
to suggest that underage girls have been forced into
prostitution, this and other severe forms of child labor are not
believed to be chronic or widespread. The successful
maintenance of peace and stability over the last two years has
given the GOTL an opportunity to strengthen its legislation and
enforcement mechanisms in an effort to tackle the problem of
child labor. These efforts are still in the initial stages and
remain incomplete. End Summary.
2. With regard to the questions posed in ref A in relation to
Tasking 1/Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of
2005 (TVPRA), post was unable to collect specific information or
data to indicate that forced labor or exploitative child labor
was used in the production of goods in Timor-Leste. Interviews
with the ILO and local NGOs suggest that child labor in the
agricultural sector (including the production of coffee,
Timor-Leste's primary non-energy export) was widespread, but no
data or observations were offered suggesting that such labor was
forced or exploitative.
3. With regard to the questions posed in ref A in relation to
Tasking 2/Trade and Development Act of 2000 (TDA), the following
answers are provided to the questions posed in para 21:
2A) Children in Timor-Leste are believed to be involved in
domestic service, street vending, and, occasionally, in child
prostitution. The GOTL did not collect or publish data on
exploitative child labor during this period.
2B) The GOTL adopted ILO Convention 182 (Prohibition and
Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child
Labor) in April 2009. Timor-Leste has yet to ratify ILO
Convention 138 (Minimum Age for Admission to Employment),
however, probably due to concerns that the current mandatory
education requirements would set the minimum employment age too
high. The adoption of Convention 182, however, has yet to lead
to meaningful improvements in the legal and regulatory framework
which remains inadequate for addressing exploitative child
labor. Specifically, for example, labor inspectors in
Timor-Leste currently lack the authority to enforce labor laws.
A new Labor Code that is expected to be approved this year may
address this problem.
2C) Sections I & II: Hazardous Child Labor & Forced Child Labor:
1. The Secretary of State for Vocational Training and
Employment, the National Police of Timor-Leste, and the Ministry
for Social Solidarity are the agencies responsible for
enforcement of laws relating to child labor.
2. Mechanisms for exchanging information exist, but are not
3. There was no separate mechanism for making complaints
about hazardous and forced child labor violations (as opposed to
child labor violations). The GOTL has yet to define hazardous
and forced child labor in its domestic legislation and laws.
4. There was no separate funding for enforcement agencies
to carry out inspections.
5. The GOTL employs only 8 permanent labor inspectors.
None are dedicated specifically to child labor.
6. There is no data available on how many child labor
inspections were conducted.
7. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a few children who had
been forced into prostitution were removed and referred to an
NGO that provides assistance to the victims. There is no data
available to indicate the total numbers involved.
8. There were no child labor cases or prosecutions opened.
9. There were no child labor cases resolved.
10. There were no reported violations or convictions.
DILI 00000027 002 OF 003
11. Not applicable.
12. Not applicable.
13. Continued efforts will be needed to effectively combat
exploitative child labor.
14. The GOTL
2D) Child trafficking, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of
Children (CSEC) & the use of children in illicit activities:
1. There are no agencies or personnel dedicated to the
enforcement of these forms of child labor. The lack of data
indicating the scope of the problem in Timor-Leste makes it
difficult to determine whether the 8 permanent labor inspectors
and existing police units are sufficient to address these
2. No specific funding was dedicated to these problems.
Virtually all GOTL enforcement agencies suffer from chronic
capacity problems and lack the necessary funding, training, and
qualified personnel to address these and other problems.
3. There is a hot line for trafficking in persons (not
specifically for child trafficking). Data was not available on
how many complaints were received.
4. There were no investigations opened.
5. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some children were
rescued as child prostitution cases came to light, but there are
no statistics available.
6. No arrests or prosecutions.
7. No cases closed or resolved.
8. No convictions.
9. Not applicable.
10. Not applicable.
11. Not applicable.
12. No specific training was offered.
13. Not applicable.
2E) Government Policies on Child Labor
1. The GOTL did not have a specific policy or plan to
address exploitative child labor, although they have established
a Child Labor Commission (in cooperation with the ILO and the
Brazilian government) to define child labor and begin to develop
policies to address it.
2. Exploitative labor is not specifically addressed in
poverty reduction or other policies.
3. Not applicable.
4. Not applicable.
5. Not applicable.
6. In addition to the Commission mentioned above which is
due to initiate its activities later this year, the GOTL
participated in conferences on child labor in Portugal in
February 2009 and in the Hague in May 2009.
7. The GOTL signed an agreement with the ILO and the
Brazilian government to establish the Commission described above.
2F) Social Programs to Eliminate or Prevent Child Labor:
1. The GOTL has not implemented any programs designed to
address the worst forms of child labor.
2. The GOTL did not incorporate child labor specifically as
an issue to be addressed by other programs.
3. Not applicable.
4. Not applicable.
DILI 00000027 003 OF 003
5. Not applicable.
6. The agreement to establish a Child Labor Commission with
the ILO and Brazil was signed in 2009 and is expected to
initiate its activities in March 2010.
2G) Continual Progress: While the GOTL has not made any material
progress combating exploitative child labor, it has taken steps
to begin addressing the issue. Specifically, the ratification
of ILO Convention 182 in April 2009 represented an important
official commitment to addressing the issue. A new Labor Code
is expected to be adopted this year and would also strengthen
existing enforcement mechanisms to address the problem of child
labor. In addition, the signing of an agreement with the ILO
and the Brazilian government to establish a Child Labor
Commission has established an operational mechanism whereby the
GOTL hopes to adopt a definition of various types of child
labor, raise public awareness of the problem, and develop a plan
to address the problem. The Commission is expected to initiate
its activities in March 2010 and to remain active for one year.
These developments are important steps in establishing the
framework in which the GOTL can begin to address the problem of
exploitative child labor in the coming years.
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