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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN2204
2006-12-18 12:12:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: UPDATE OF THE WORST FORMS OF

Tags:   ELAB  EIND  ETRD  PHUM  SOCI  EAID  AC  XL 
pdf how-to read a cable
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RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1582
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0250
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRIDGETOWN 002204 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR AND DRL/IL (TU DANG)
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR FOR ILAB (TINA MCCARTER)
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD PHUM SOCI EAID AC XL
SUBJECT: ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: UPDATE OF THE WORST FORMS OF
CHILD LABOR INFORMATION

REF: STATE 184972



1. Summary: While Antigua and Barbuda lacks a comprehensive
policy or action program on child labor, it does have a
policy and legal framework for addressing issues connected
with child labor, including education, child care, welfare,
social security, and labor administration. Antiguan
officials interviewed claim that the country has no problems
with child labor or the worst forms of child labor. Though
little research has been done on this issue by Antigua or
outside organizations, it is likely that the extent of the
worst forms of child labor problem is limited, given
Antigua's relative prosperity, compulsory education system,
and well developed social safety net. End Summary.



2. The following answers are keyed to questions concerning
worst forms of child labor contained in reftel:

A) Laws and regulations proscribing the worst forms of child
labor.

Antigua and Barbuda has ratified both ILO Conventions 138 and


182. While Antigua and Barbuda has not adopted legislation
addressing child labor per se, the country has in place laws
and regulations on minimum employment age, compulsory
education, childcare protection, social security, and labor
administration, as well as the criminal code, which outlaws
among other things prostitution, pornography, and drug
trafficking.

Antigua and Barbuda has not developed a list of hazardous
occupations or laws specifically targeting the worst forms of
child labor. According to Sheree Yearwood, the ILO Desk
Officer at the Antiguan Ministry of Labour, Public
Administration, and Empowerment, developing such lists and
laws has been considered unnecessary because the Antiguan
government has no evidence that child labor, including its
worst forms, is a problem in the country.

Yearwood said that Antigua's minimum age for employment is
set at 16, which is also the age until which children are
required to attend school. Some children younger than 16 may
work, but according to Yearwood, they work only a few hours a
week and usually during the summer. Younger workers in some
areas, such as construction, must present medical
documentation certifying that they are fit for harder labor.

B) Regulations for implementation and enforcement of
proscription against the worst forms of child labor.

The Antiguan government implements and enforces labor laws
through the Ministry of Labour, Public Administration, and
Empowerment. The Ministry employs two inspectors, who
conduct periodic inspections, both announced and unannounced,
of Antiguan employers. Any violations of Antiguan laws would
be referred to the relevant authorities. According to
Yearwood, the Ministry's inspectors have yet to uncover any

problems involving child labor. The Citizens Welfare
Division of the Ministry of Housing, Culture and Welfare is
charged with investigating all matters concerning the welfare
of children, and the Royal Police of Antigua and Barbuda
would investigate all suspected criminal activities.
According to Citizen Welfare Division's Child Welfare
Officer, Faustina Jarvis, the Division works closely with the
police, hospitals, church and community groups to protect and
remove children from abusive situations. She noted, however,
that the Division's efforts could benefit from a central data
collection point to keep better track of information and
analyze it for possible trends.

Yearwood acknowledged that the Antiguan government has
conducted no research into the issue of child labor and is
therefore basing its assumption that child labor is not a
problem in the country on the absence of any reported cases.
Antigua's growing economy and relatively strong social safety
net would suggest that Antiguan children would be less likely
to resort to or be pressured into the worst forms of child
labor because of poverty.

However, the situation may be different for immigrant
children. Sheila Roseau, Director of the Gender Affairs

BRIDGETOWN 00002204 002 OF 002


Division in the Ministry of Labour, Public Administration,
and Empowerment, agreed with Yearwood's assessment that child
labor does not appear to be a problem in Antigua. However,
Roseau recalled one case of child prostitution in 2002 or


2003. The case reportedly led to the conviction and
imprisonment of the perpetrator. Jarvis also recalled this
case, adding that it involved a Guyanese girl who was
essentially trafficked into Antigua and then sexually
exploited. UNICEF's program officer Heather Stewart, who is
based in Barbados, agreed that one possible area of concern
could be Antigua's growing immigrant population, mainly from
the Dominican Republic. According to Stewart, the language
barrier and uncertain legal status of the immigrants may
leave them and their children vulnerable to exploitation.

C) Whether there are social programs to prevent and withdraw
children from the worst forms of child labor.

Like other countries in the region, Antigua has used
education as the primary tool to prevent child labor and the
worst forms of child labor. Education is compulsory up to
the age of 16, and it is free through the secondary level.
Attendance at primary and secondary schools is monitored by
the Ministry of Education's truancy officers, and any
attendance problems are reported to the Ministry of Labor's
Citizens Welfare Division.

However, a 2001 report on Antigua's implementation of the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child noted a certain level
of discrimination in access to free public education for the
children of immigrants. According to the report, Ministry of
Education officials has sought to alleviate the shortage of
public school spaces by directing immigrants' children to
private, fee-charging schools. According to Jarvis, this
discrimination may still be occurring, but as the immigrants'
status becomes "regularized" their children usually move to
the free public schools.

The Citizens Welfare Division is charged with protecting
children from abuse and would therefore be involved in any
instances of the worst forms of child labor. The Division
cooperates with religious and church organizations in
removing children from abusive situations and placing them in
safe environments. Jarvis mentioned the Good Shepherd Home
for Girls, run by the Catholic Church, and the Sunshine Home
for Girls, run by the Salvation Army, as the two alternatives
they use most frequently. Jarvis noted that the two homes do
not accept boys, unless they are infants, and abused boys are
therefore usually placed in foster care.

D) Policies aimed at the elimination of the worst forms of
child labor.

Antigua does not have a comprehensive policy or national
program of action on child labor.

E) Progress toward eliminating the worst forms of child labor.

Since ratifying ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of
child labor in 2002, Antigua has not taken any significant
steps toward implementing the Convention's provisions. The
government's complacency is due in large part to the
assumption that child labor is not a problem in Antigua. The
lack of research or reported data does not necessarily mean
that the problem does not exist in Antigua and Barbuda, as
the one case reported here demonstrates. However, given the
country's relative prosperity, compulsory education system,
and well developed social safety net, it is likely that the
extent of the worst forms of child labor problem is limited
in Antigua and Barbuda.
GILROY