Viewing cable 06SANSALVADOR2960

06SANSALVADOR29602006-12-18 15:34:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Salvador

DE RUEHSN #2960/01 3521534
P 181534Z DEC 06
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 184972 
¶1.  SUMMARY:  Pursuant to reftel, this cable provides 
information on the worst forms of child labor in El Salvador. 
As a country eligible for trade benefits under the 
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), El Salvador has 
implemented steps to eliminate the worst forms of child 
labor, including the comprehensive USDOL-funded ILO/IPEC 
Timebound Program.  Information is keyed to sections within 
reftel paragraph #8.  END SUMMARY. 
A)  Laws and Regulations Proscribing the Worst Forms of Child 
The Salvadoran Constitution (Article 38.10) prohibits child 
labor under the age of 14.  It also prohibits child labor for 
older children while they are still receiving compulsory 
education through the ninth grade.  Minors, age 14 or older, 
may receive special Labor Ministry permission to work, but 
only where such employment is indispensable to the sustenance 
of the minor and his or her family.  However, according to 
article 114 of the Labor Code, children aged 12 to 14 can be 
authorized to perform light work, as long as it does not harm 
their health and development or interfere with their 
education.  To do so, they may receive special Labor Ministry 
permission.  Children under 16 years of age are prohibited 
from working more than 7 hours per day, and 34 hours per 
week.  Children under the age of 18 are prohibited from 
working at night. 
El Salvador defines the worst forms of child labor or 
hazardous work as the ILO defines those terms.  Forced or 
compulsory labor is prohibited by the Constitution, except in 
cases of public calamity and other cases specified by the 
law.  All forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery 
are forbidden under a general provision of El Salvador's 
Constitution (Article 9), as well as under Article 367-B of 
the Criminal Code.  The sale and trafficking of children, 
debt bondage, and serfdom are specifically penalized in 
Article 367-B of the Criminal Code.  This last reform 
(Article 367-B) was approved in October 2004, but entered 
into force in January 2005.  Criminal penalties for 
trafficking range from 4 to 8 years of imprisonment, and 
increase by one-third if the victim is under the age of 18 
years.  On April 29, 2006, the Government of El Salvador, 
through the Ministry of Governance, opened a shelter for 
victims of trafficking, and as of October, 58 victims had 
been sheltered.  Some were minors, but usually repatriated to 
their country of origin.  As of December 13, twelve victims 
were sheltered.  The Embassy through the INL program 
supported this Government of El Salvador shelter financially 
and logistically through its INL program. 
Article 215 of the Salvadoran Constitution authorizes 
compulsory military recruitment for those between 18 and 30 
years old; recruitment of children is not permitted. 
However, voluntary service can begin at age 16.  The use, 
procurement, or offering of a child for prostitution, for the 
production of pornography, or for pornographic performances 
are penalized in Articles 170, 170-A, 172, 173, 173-A, and 
173-B.  Although the Criminal Code does not criminalize 
prostitution per se, it penalizes the inducement, 
facilitation, or promotion of prostitution of a person 
younger than 18 years old.  The Penal Code considers the 
commercial sexual exploitation of children, trafficking of 
children, and child pornography forms of organized crime, and 
provides harsher penalties for such crimes.  Article 54 of 
the law that regulates drug-related activities penalizes the 
use of a child for illicit activities.  Articles 105, 106, 
and 107 of the Labor Code prohibit types of work that will 
likely harm the safety or morals of children.  In 1999, the 
Government of El Salvador submitted to the ILO a document 
identifying hazardous forms of work prohibited for minors 
under Convention 182 and Convention 138. 
Additionally, El Salvador continues to focus on the Timebound 
Program for identification of the worst forms of child labor: 
fireworks production, fishing, sugarcane harvesting, 
commercial sexual exploitation, and garbage-dump scavenging. 
B)  Regulations for Implementation and Enforcement of 
Proscriptions Against the Worst Forms of Child labor: 
Enforcement of child labor law, when it refers to 
administrative rather than criminal procedures such as those 
that derive from trafficking, is the responsibility of the 
Ministry of Labor, but labor inspectors usually tend to focus 
on the formal sector where child labor is less frequent, and 
as a result, few complaints are presented.  The 2006-2010 
National Plan to Eradicate the Worst Forms of Child Labor 
places the Ministry of Labor in charge of reviewing, 
updating, and modernizing the legal framework related to 
child labor, as well as to increase legal oversight and labor 
inspections to prevent and eradicate hazardous job 
conditions.  The Civilian National Police (PNC), the 
Immigration Office, and the Office of the Attorney General 
(FGR) are the government agencies responsible for enforcing 
trafficking laws. Administrative complaints presented before the 
Ministry of Labor, when it refers to child labor violations different 
from criminal activity such as trafficking, offering a child 
for pornographic or prostitution services and others.  The 
Ministry of Labor could impose fines.  However, if the child 
labor violation is considered a crime, then the Attorney 
General Office in conjunction with the National Civilian 
Police are in charge of enforcing child labor laws.  In 
general, such legal remedies are adequate to punish 
violations but it may be difficult to deter them, due to 
Salvadoran economic, cultural and social conditions, which 
can not be addressed merely through legal remedies. 
The Ministry of Labor invests USD $107,200 annually in the 
investigation of child labor cases.  This amount covers 
salaries, transportation and meal allowances. 
The Ministry of Labor has 163 labor inspectors distributed in 
different regions and departments, 24 of whom work 
specifically on child labor issues.  During the year, the 
Government of El Salvador concentrated on monitoring and 
inspection of sugarcane plantations, with the following 
Special inspections:  10 
Programmed inspections:  36 
Re-Inspections:  6 
Monitoring:  202 
Number of workers who were covered by these inspections: 
Number of children who were removed from child labor:  149 
Awareness campaigns:  33 which covered 13,287 workers 
The Ministry of Labor imposed three fines during 2006. In 
2006, the Attorney General prosecuted 35 cases of 
trafficking, and in 4 cases there were adjudications that 
involved 7 traffickers.  Traffickers received sentences of 3 
to 20 years imprisonment. 
During 2006, the Ministry of Labor in conjunction with the 
ILO trained and provided awareness training, including 
prevention of child labor, combating child labor, and 
re-insertion of children, as follows: 
--  102 inspectors for elimination of child labor.  (The 
training program included domestic and international 
legislation such as ILO Conventions 138, 182, 77 and 78.) 
--  60 PNC agents of the trafficking and alien smuggling 
division, 280 officers, 21 agents of the prevention unit, 
and 1800 agents from other units.  (Also, in coordination 
with the National Academy of Public Security, 62 new PNC 
agents were trained on child labor issues.) 
--  75 psychologists of the Ministry of Education. 
--  90 employers of the National Institute for Women's 
Development (ISDEMU) 
--  90 judges 
--  145 agents of the Immigration Directorate 
Also, the Salvadoran Sugar Producers Association 
(FUNDAZUCAR), Coca Cola Company, and Telefonica company have, 
as part of their social responsibility programs, sponsored 
public awareness campaigns against child labor in sugarcane 
C)  Social Programs to Prevent and Withdraw Children from the 
Worst Forms of Child Labor: 
The Ministry of Labor, in coordination with the ILO, 
conducted social programs to prevent and withdraw children 
from the worst forms of child labor including: 
--  Academic reinforcement post-regular classes (Salas de 
Nivelaci"n), to prevent children from engaging in 
exploitative work situations.  From October 2003 to August 
2005, a total of 10,909 children received these classes. -- 
Vocational training for children:  From October 2003 to 
August 2005, a total of 2,788  children received such 
--  Psychological counseling:  From October 2003 to August 
2005, a total of 294 children received counseling. 
--  Health Services:  From October 2003 to August 2005, a 
total of 1,368 children and 618 parents received health 
--  Nutrition Services:  From October 2003 to August 2005, a 
total of 4,946 children received nutrition services. 
--  School Materials:  From October 2003 to August 2005, a 
total of 29,337 children received school supplies. 
--  Other services:  From October 2003 to August 2005, a 
total of 5,935 children participated in the "Dreaming to 
Become" program.  Under this program, at-risk children and 
adolescents explore what it would be like to become a nurse, 
teacher, doctor, firefighter, etc. 
--  Vocational training for parents:  From October 2003 to 
August 2005, a total of 1,857 parents received vocational 
--  Literacy training:  From October 2003 to August 2005, a 
total of 914 parents received literacy training. 
In addition, the 2005-2009 "Solidarity Net" national 
anti-poverty program, which aims to reduce extreme poverty 
and benefits 100,000 families of the poorest municipalities 
of the country, assists in withdrawing children from work 
Other projects, such as the IDB's four-and-a-half-year Social 
Peace Program Support Project, target 200,000 children and 
adolescents, operating in municipalities with the highest 
rates of crime affecting young people--both as victims and 
offenders.  The project includes provision of services to 
child victims of violence, efforts to prevent violence among 
adolescents, and efforts to rehabilitate young offenders 
through job-training scholarships and enhancement of the 
educational system. 
Article 56 of the Salvadoran Constitution establishes that 
education is free and compulsory through the 9th grade. 
A September 2006 DOL-sponsored MOL publication titled 
"Advances in the Elimination of Child Labor in El Salvador, 
2005-2006", established that, according to the Ministry of 
Education's 2004-2005 school attendance census, approximately 
15 percent of students between 5 and 17 years old work. 
Children from 10 to 15 years old in rural areas are most 
likely to work.  For every working girl, there are 2.33 
working boys.  However, girls' work is usually less visible, 
because of girls' employment in households, which the girls' 
families often do not consider child labor.  The Ministry of 
Education also reported that the proportion of children who 
attend school but also work had decreased 25.7 percent during 
2004-2005, in part because of awareness programs on this 
subject.  (Note:  In 2004, 14.5 percent of children (235,528) 
attended school and worked, while in 2005, only 10.7 percent 
(175,108) did so.  End note.) 
Although laws prohibit impeding childrenQ,s access to schools 
for being unable to pay school fees or wear uniforms, some 
school continued to charge school fees to cover budget 
D)  Comprehensive Policy Aimed at the Elimination of the 
Worst Forms of Child Labor: 
On September 20, The Government of El Salvador launched its 
first National Plan for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of 
Child Labor.  The Ministries of Labor, Education, Health, 
Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Governance, Economy, 
and the National Secretariat for the Family, the National 
Secretariat for Youth, the National Institute for the 
Development of Children and Adolescents (ISNA), in 
conjunction with the Small and Medium Enterprises Committee, 
the National Superior Labor Council, the National Round Table 
Against Sexual Commercial Exploitation, and the National 
Committee For the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child 
Labor, joined efforts with the ILO/IPEC International Program 
on the Elimination of Child Labor to launch a four-year 
national plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. 
The plan aims to continuously reduce at least 10% of the 
targeted population of 288,221 children from 5 to 17 years 
old who work. 
The general principles of the plan are to promote gender 
equity; a culture of lawfulness; involvement of parents, 
children, and employers; and empowerment of community and 
families relating to child labor.  This global strategy 
includes, among other things, strengthening governmental 
capacity to assume the plan's responsibilities effectively 
and efficiently, and promoting international cooperation. 
The strategic areas involve strengthening the legal and 
institutional framework, education and health care, culture 
and sports, and increasing family income and public awareness 
campaigns.  The Plan will be presented to the international 
community and donors during the next month. The Plan's 
initial steps include a budget of USD $27,720. 
The Government has made public statements and commitments to 
eradicate the worst forms of child labor on several 
occasions.  The most significant public statement occurred 
during the launching of the National Plan, which was attended 
by high-level officials from all relevant ministries, as well 
as the First Lady. 
E)  Country's Continual Progress Toward Eliminating the Worst 
Forms of Child Labor: 
Nature:  El Salvador defines child labor as any economic 
activity (according to the National Accounting System of the 
United Nations) performed by children between 5 and 17 years 
old.  However, not all economic activity can be considered as 
exploitative work.  This definition of child labor does not 
include domestic households, which are non-economic 
activities.  In spite of that, the consequences and 
implications of domestic household work performed by children 
are similar to that of child labor. 
Magnitude:  An estimated 10.2 percent of children ages 5-14 
were counted as working in El Salvador in 2003. 
Approximately 13.7 percent of all boys 5 to 14 were working, 
compared to 6.5 percent of girls in the same age group.  The 
majority of working children were found in the agricultural 
sector (51.2 percent), followed by services (35.3 percent), 
manufacturing (12.4 percent), and other (1.1 percent).