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03GUATEMALA2108 2003-08-19 15:42:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Guatemala
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1. Summary: In response to Ref A, this cable provides
update information to supplement Refs B (last year's Child
Labor report, which otherwise remains valid) and C (Guatemala
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Report). Significant child labor
developments over the past year include publication of a new
authoritative report in March on child labor produced by the
ILO, UNICEF and the World Bank, entitled "Understanding
Children's Work in Guatemala;" the entry into effect of ILO
Convention 182 on October 11, 2002; the installation of a
National Commission for the Elimination of Child Labor on
October 29, 2002; the introduction of Labor Code reforms to
Congress by the Executive on May 5 (where they remain
pending), to bring domestic legislation in line with ILO
commitments; and Congressional approval of a new Children's
Code in June. While many of these developments are
encouraging, the magnitude of the child labor problem in
Guatemala continues to worsen. End Summary.

Major Findings of New Child Labor Report


2. The ILO/UNICEF/World Bank report was prepared in
cooperation with the Government and National Statistical
Institute, and is based on a national living conditions
survey conducted in 2000 involving a stratified sample of
7,276 households and a total of 38,000 persons. Notable
results include:

-- "The prevalence of children in the workforce appears to be
rising in Guatemala." The latest national employment survey,
in 2002, estimated 23% of children were involved in work, up
from 20% in 2000, 14% in 1998-99, and 8% estimated in 1994.
Note: each of these estimates came from difference sources
and may not reflect the same methodology.

-- 507,000 children aged 7-14 years, (20% of this age group)
are engaged in work.

-- Children,s work is mainly a rural phenomenon. Rural
children make up three-fourths of total child workers and are
twice as likely as urban children to work.

--Around 300,000 children aged 7-14 (12% of this age group)
perform household chores for at least four hours per day.
(The proportion of 7-14 year old girls performing these
chores is triple that for boys.)

-- Most working children (two-thirds) are found in the
agricultural sector and work for their families without wages.

-- Children,s work involves very long hours (average: 47
hours per week).

-- Children can face hazardous conditions in many sectors,
including domestic service in private homes, firecracker
production, agricultural work, mining and quarrying, and
garbage picking.

-- "Unconditional Worst Forms" of Child Labor in Guatemala
include child prostitution and child pornography. Though the
extent of child trafficking is not known, Guatemala is both a
source for and destination of trafficked children. The
government indicates that the number of street children has
increased in recent years (est. 3,500-8,000).

-- Work interferes with children,s education.

-- Determinants of children,s work include gender,
ethnicity, poverty, mother's educational status, household
composition, exposure to collective and individual crises,
and lack of health insurance.

-- The report suggests the following strategies to combat
child labor in Guatemala: reduce household vulnerability;
increase access to and quality of education; improve access
to basic services; promote adult literacy; in rural areas,
increase school enrollment of child agricultural workers and
remove children from the most hazardous forms of work; in
urban areas, remove children from urban workplaces,
especially girls working as domestic servants, and increase
the ability of households to invest in their children,s
education; fill the information gap on the worst forms of
child labor and strengthen grassroots organizations to better
reach street children.

-- Finally, the report recommends bringing national
legislation into conformity with international child labor
norms and strengthening the Government's ability to enforce
and monitor this legislation.

ILO 182 Takes Effect: National Commission Created



3. Twelve months after its ratification, ILO Convention 182
on the Worst Forms of Child Labor went into effect. On
October 29, President Portillo inaugurated the new National
Commission for the Elimination of Child Labor, presided over
by the Vice President, and including various ministries and
government institutions, and representatives of the ILO,
UNICEF, Save the Children Norway, and German Technical
Cooperation (GTZ). The Commission's objective is to support
the implementation of the National Plan to Eliminate Child
Labor (under age 14) and Protect Adolescent Workers (ages
14-17). The Commission and its secretariat working group,
which meets weekly, has been active since its creation,
developing an operation plan to implement the National Plan.
It proposed a funding level of $769,000 for implementation of
the Plan in the 2004 national budget.

GOG Proposes New Labor Code Reforms


4. On May 5, the Executive submitted a package of five
reforms to the Labor Code, including one which proposes to
prohibit paid labor under age 14 (currently the Labor
Ministry can issue permits for workers under age 14; the
Ministry reported issuing 1,012 such permits in 2001, the
latest year for which statistics are available). The reform,
pending before Congress, also proposes applying limited work
hours and protections currently in place for workers under 14
to adolescent workers (ages 14-17); holds employers
responsible for any violations of age requirements, including
fines not less than ten times the year in which the child
worker was born; and prohibits all dangerous and worst forms
of labor for workers under age 18, as defined under ILO
Convention 182. The ILO has submitted comments and suggested
revisions to the draft bill to the Minister of Labor.

Children's Code Passed


5. On June 4, Congress approved the Law for Integrated
Protection of Children and Adolescents, which took effect in
July. The new law modified an earlier version passed in
1999, which proved controversial and therefore never took
effect. The current law codifies a long list of individual
rights enjoyed by children, including the right to protection
against trafficking in children and adolescents, against
economic exploitation, against sexual exploitation and abuse;
and creates a National Commission on Children and