Viewing cable 07SANSALVADOR2349

07SANSALVADOR23492007-12-04 21:58:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy San Salvador

DE RUEHSN #2349/01 3382158
P 042158Z DEC 07
E.O. 12958: N/A 
REF: STATE 158223 
¶1.  (U) 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 supports 
efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.  During 
2007, the ILO implemented ten programs specifically designed 
to eliminate said abuses.  Based on the information provided 
by the government, it is difficult to assess the 
government,s role in these programs.  Also, it is difficult 
to determine the effectiveness of these efforts because the 
Ministry of Labor conducted no inspections for child labor 
from March through October.  End Summary. 
Laws and Regulations Proscribing 
the Worst Forms of Child Labor 
¶2. (U) The Salvadoran Constitution 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 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. 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. 
¶3. (U) El Salvador defines the worst forms of child labor or 
hazardous work in the same fashion the ILO defines those 
terms.  Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the 
Constitution, except in cases of public calamity and other 
instances specified by the law.  All forms of slavery or 
practices similar to slavery are forbidden under a general 
provision of El Salvador's Constitution, as well as the 
Criminal Code.  The sale and trafficking of children, debt 
bondage, and serfdom are specifically penalized in the 
Criminal Code.  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. 
¶4. (U) Military recruitment of children is not permitted. 
However, voluntary service can begin at age 16. 
¶5. (U) The use, procurement, or offering of a child for 
prostitution, for the production of pornography, or for 
pornographic performances are penalized in the Constitution. 
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.  The law that regulates 
drug-related activities penalizes the use of a child for 
illicit activities. 
¶6. (U) The Labor Code prohibits 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 
identiying hazardous forms of work prohibited for minors 
under Convention 182 and Convention 138.  There ere no new 
laws promulgated in 2007 relating to child labor. 
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Regulations for Implementation and Enforcement 
of Proscriptions against the Worst Forms of Child Labor 
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¶7. (U) Enforcement of child labor law 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 
¶8. (U) The National Civilian 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, are 
different from criminal activity such as trafficking, 
offering a child for pornographic or prostitution services, 
and others. 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. 
¶9. (U) In general, the legal remedies for trafficking are 
adequate to punish violations but likely provide little 
deterrence, due to economic, cultural, and social conditions. 
 The legal remedies for child labor are rarely enforced, 
providing little punishment or deterrence. 
¶10. (U) Through October 2007, the Ministry of Labor reported 
receiving no complaints of child labor.  However, child labor 
is culturally acceptable in El Salvador, and historically 
there have been few complaints.  The Ministry of Labor 
invests USD $218,000 annually in the investigation of child 
labor cases.  The Ministry of Labor has 158 labor inspectors 
conducting inspection programs; however none work 
specifically on child labor issues. 
¶11. (U) From January to October, the National Civilian Police 
(PNC) investigated 32 cases of trafficking in persons.  From 
January to February, the Ministry of Labor conducted 11 
inspections for child labor and removed 81 children from 
child labor activities.  However the Ministry reported 
conducting no labor inspections for child labor between March 
and October.  Also, the Ministry reported conducting no 
inspections in sugarcane, coffee, or cotton plantations 
during this period.  Children are frequently used as laborers 
in these industries.  There was no reason given for the lack 
of inspections during this time period.  The Ministry 
reported imposing no fines for child labor activity through 
¶12. (U) As of October, the Ministry of Labor reports training 
158 inspectors, 590 police officers, 64 judges, and 125 
Social Programs to Prevent and Withdraw 
Children from the Worst Forms of Child Labor 
¶13. (U) The ILO and other non-governmental organizations, 
with the support of the Ministry of Labor, are currently 
implementing the second stage of the National Plan for the 
Eradication of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.  The budget 
for these activities is USD $3,380,000. 
¶14. (U) On March 28, 2007, the National Civilian Police (PNC) 
introduced a Procedural Manual to Combat the Sexual 
Commercial Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.  In June 
2007, the PNC launched an awareness campaign against sexual 
¶15. (U) The government continues implementing the Child Labor 
Education Initiative, which aims to prevent and remove 
children from exploitative labor by increasing awareness and 
access to educational services.  The budget for this 
Initiative, implemented by the Ministry of Education, is USD 
$499,998.  According to the Ministry of Education there are 
218,884 children who currently work and attend school. 
¶16. (U) The ILO has implemented ten programs, with a budget 
of USD $482,587, to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. 
 The Ministry of Labor is responsible for monitoring the 
progress and effectiveness of these programs; however there 
were no on-site inspections conducted between March and 
October 2007.  (Comment: It is difficult to determine the 
level of the Ministry of Labor,s role in these activities 
based on the limited information that was provided by the 
Ministry. Post will provide updates as more information 
becomes available.  End Comment.) 
¶17. (U) Additional ILO programs to eliminate the worst forms 
of child labor are being conducted by various 
non-governmental organizations throughout the country.  These 
programs focus on industries in which child labor is most 
common, including fishing and sugarcane production.  Also, 
the government has a $3,380,000 program to reduce poverty, 
&Red Solidaria8, which indirectly helps prevent child labor. 
Comprehensive Policy Aimed at the 
Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor 
¶18. (U) In 2006, the government 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, 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 by at least 10 percent of the targeted population of 
288,221 children from 5 to 17 years old who work.  The 
government reports that it is currently in Phase II of the 
National Plan. 
¶19. (U) Article 56 of the Salvadoran Constitution establishes 
that education is free and compulsory through the 9th grade. 
Although laws prohibit impeding children,s access to schools 
for being unable to pay school fees or wear uniforms, some 
school continued to charge school fees to cover budget 
Country's Continual Progress Toward 
Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor 
¶20. (U) Reftel requests post provide information regarding El 
Salvador's progress towards eliminating child labor. 
However, the limited information provided by the Ministry of 
Labor does little to demonstrate the effectiveness of current 
programs, especially given the ministry's apparent suspension 
of inspections for several months in 2007.  This, in turn, 
has limited the availability of data on the number of 
children currently working.  Post will provide updates as 
more information becomes available.