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Afghanistan

Executive Summary

Afghanistan is an Islamic republic with a directly elected president, a bicameral legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Based on the electoral calendar specified in the constitution, parliamentary elections were to have taken place in 2015; however, these elections were not held by year’s end.

Civilian authorities generally maintained control over the security forces, although security forces occasionally acted independently.

The most significant human rights issues included extrajudicial killings by security forces; disappearances, torture; arbitrary arrest; detention, including of women accused of so-called moral crimes; and sexual abuse of children by security force members. Additional problems included violence against journalists, criminalization of defamation; pervasive government corruption; and lack of accountability and investigation in cases of violence against women. Discrimination against persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities and discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation persisted with little accountability.

Widespread disregard for the rule of law and official impunity for those who committed human rights abuses were serious problems. The government did not consistently or effectively prosecute abuses by officials, including security forces.

There were major attacks on civilians by armed insurgent groups and targeted assassinations by armed insurgent groups of persons affiliated with the government. The Taliban and other insurgents continued to kill security force personnel and civilians using indiscriminate tactics such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide attacks, and rocket attacks, and to commit disappearances and torture. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) attributed 67 percent of civilian casualties (1,141 deaths and 3,574 injured) to nonstate actors. The Taliban used children as suicide bombers, soldiers, and weapons carriers. Other antigovernment elements threatened, robbed, kidnapped, and attacked government workers, foreigners, medical and nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers, and other civilians.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. From January 1 to June 30, UNAMA reported an overall increase in civilian deaths over the same period for 2016, from 1,637 to 1,662. The number of civilians killed by progovernment forces, however, decreased from 396 to 327. The number of civilian casualties decreased from 5,267 to 5,243.

According to UNAMA, in January Afghan National Police (ANP) in Nesh district, Kandahar Province, beat three young men to death because police believed they were supporters of antigovernment forces. There were numerous allegations of deaths resulting from torture, particularly in Kandahar Province. Although the government investigated and prosecuted some cases of extrajudicial killing, an overall lack of accountability for security force abuses remained a problem.

There were numerous reports of politically motivated killings or injuries by the Taliban, ISIS-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), and other insurgent groups. UNAMA reported 1,141 civilian deaths due to antigovernment and terrorist forces in the first six months of the year. These groups caused 67 percent of total civilian casualties, a 12 percent increase from 2016. On May 31, antigovernment forces injured more than 500 civilians and killed an additional 150 in a vehicle-borne IED attack against civilians during rush hour on a busy street in Kabul.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution provides for freedom of speech, including for the press, but the government sometimes restricted these rights.

Freedom of Expression: The law provides for freedom of speech, and the country has a free press. There were reports authorities at times used pressure, regulations, and threats to silence critics. Criticism of the central government was regular and generally free from restrictions, but criticism of provincial government was more constrained, where local officials and power brokers exerted significant influence and authority to intimidate or threaten their critics, both private citizens and journalists.

Press and Media Freedom: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views. Media were sometimes limited in their access to government information and often faced threats and violence from the internal conflict. Politicians, security officials, and others in positions of power at times threatened or harassed journalists because of their coverage. During a speech on April 30 to mark his return to the country, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar inspired protests when he publicly called the media “wicked” and told followers to censor the media.

Freedom of speech and an independent media were more constrained at the provincial level. Specific political and ethnic groups, including those led by former mujahedin leaders, owned many provincial media outlets and controlled the content. Some provinces had limited media presence.

Print media continued to publish independent magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. A wide range of editorials and dailies openly criticized the government. Still, there were concerns that violence and insecurity threatened media independence and safety. Due to high levels of illiteracy, most citizens preferred television and radio to print media. A greater percentage of the population, including those in distant provinces, had access to radio.

According to news reports, President Ghani issued a presidential decree on August 29 exempting media companies, except for television channels, from paying fines for past-due income taxes. The decree partially answered criticisms levied by press freedom groups the week prior that increased taxes and fines would hurt many independent media outlets.

Violence and Harassment: Government officials used threats, violence, and intimidation to attempt to silence opposition journalists, particularly those who spoke out about impunity, war crimes, corruption, and powerful local figures. According to Reporters Without Borders, the governor of Baghlan called a journalist and two other employees of privately owned Arezo TV into his office on May 25 to make them delete news footage. The Afghan Journalist Safety Committee (AJSC) reported 10 journalists killed in the first six months of the year. For the same period, the AJSC recorded 73 cases of violence against journalists, which included killing, beating, inflicting injury and humiliation, intimidation, and detention of journalists–a 35 percent increase from the first six months of 2016. Government-affiliated individuals or security forces committed most of the violence against journalists and were responsible for 34 instances of violence, leaving 39 instances attributable to the Taliban, ISIS-K, local warlords, and individuals. According to AJSC, the Eastern zone and Kabul zone, which include provinces north of Kabul, had the most cases of violence against journalists. The Southeastern zone had the least number of cases of violence against journalists.

On May 17, ISIS-K attacked the Afghanistan National Radio and Television compound in Jalalabad and killed seven persons. The May 31 bombing, widely attributed to the antigovernment Haqqani group, killed 31 employees of the Roshan television and news media telecommunications company and caused millions of dollars of damage to the company’s headquarters. The same attack killed at least one camera operator of Tolo News and one BBC driver, injured nine employees of other media outlets, and caused extensive damage to 1TV’s headquarters.

Security conditions created a dangerous environment for journalists, even when they were not specific targets. Media organizations and journalists operating in remote areas were more vulnerable to violence and intimidation because of increased levels of insecurity and threats from insurgents, warlords, and organized criminals. They also reported local governmental authorities were less cooperative in facilitating access to information.

In August 2016 the Office of the National Security Council approved a new set of guidelines to address cases of violence against journalists. The initiative created a joint national committee in Kabul and separate committees in provincial capitals, a coordination center to investigate and identify perpetrators of violence against journalists, and a support committee run by the NDS to identify threats against journalists. Press freedom organizations reported that, although the committee met and referred cases to the Attorney General’s Office, it did not increase protection for journalists.

In March a media advocacy group reported that many female journalists worked under pseudonyms to avoid recognition, harassment, and retaliation. According to the group, there were no female journalists in the provinces of Kunduz, Nuristan, or Panjsher because of insecurity.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: Some media observers claimed journalists reporting on administrative corruption, land embezzlement, and local officials’ involvement in narcotics trafficking engaged in self-censorship due to fear of violent retribution by provincial police officials and powerful families. An NGO supporting media freedom surveyed journalists in 13 provinces and found 90 percent lacked access to government information. A Kabul Press Club survey showed more than half of journalists were dissatisfied with the level of access to government information.

Libel/Slander Laws: The penal code and the mass media law prescribe jail sentences and fines for defamation. Authorities sometimes used defamation as a pretext to suppress criticism of government officials.

National Security: Journalists complained government officials frequently invoked the national interest exception in the Access to Information law to avoid disclosing information.

Nongovernmental Impact: Some reporters acknowledged they avoided criticizing the insurgency and some neighboring countries in their reporting because they feared Taliban retribution. Insurgent groups coerced media agencies in insecure areas to prevent them from broadcasting or publishing advertisements and announcements of the security forces, entertainment programming, music, and women’s voices.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 10.6 percent of the population had internet access, mostly in urban areas, in 2016.

Media outlets and activists routinely used social media to discuss political developments, and Facebook was widely used in urban areas. The Taliban used the internet and social media to spread its messages. Internet usage remained relatively low due to high prices, a lack of local content, and illiteracy.

On November 4, the government announced a temporary ban on two popular encrypted messaging applications–WhatsApp and Telegram–from November 1 to 20. On November 6, the government rescinded the ban.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

The government generally respected citizens’ right to demonstrate peacefully. Numerous public gatherings and protests took place during the year. Between June 2 and 12, hundreds of protesters, many from opposition political parties, installed tents and occupied major thoroughfares surrounding government buildings and foreign embassies in Kabul’s international zone to protest the government’s failure to stop the May 31 bombing. There were clashes between armed protesters and police.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The constitution provides for the right to freedom of association, and the government generally respected it. The 2009 law on political parties obliges political parties to register with the Ministry of Justice and to pursue objectives consistent with Islam. In 2012 the Council of Ministers approved a regulation requiring political parties to open offices in at least 20 provinces within one year of registration. On September 14, President Ghani signed a decree prohibiting employees and officials of security and judicial institutions, specifically the Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defense, and National Directorate of Security, from political party membership while government employees. Noncompliant employees could be fired.

Section 7. Worker Rights

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The labor law sets the minimum age for employment at 18 but permits 14-year-olds to work as apprentices, allows children who are 15 and older to do “light work,” and permits children 16 and 17 to work up to 35 hours per week. The law prohibits children under age 14 from working under any circumstances. The law also bans the employment of children in work likely to threaten their health or cause disability, including mining, begging, and garbage collection; work in blast furnaces, waste-processing plants, and large slaughterhouses; work with hospital waste; drug-related work; security guard services; and work related to war.

The government lacked a specific policy on implementing the law’s provisions on child labor. Poor institutional capacity was a serious impediment to effective enforcement of the labor law. Deficiencies included inadequate resources, inspections, remediation, and penalties for violations, and the government made minimal efforts to prevent child labor or remove children from exploitative labor conditions. Reports estimated that fewer than 10 percent of children had formal birth registrations, which further limited authorities’ already weak capacity to enforce laws on the minimum age of employment.

Child labor remained a pervasive problem. The Ministry of Labor declined to estimate the number of working children, citing a lack of data and deficiencies in birth registrations. Child laborers worked as domestic servants, street vendors, peddlers, and shopkeepers. There was child labor in the carpet industry, brick kilns, coalmines, and poppy fields. Children were also heavily engaged in the worst forms of child labor in mining (especially family-owned gem mines), commercial sexual exploitation (see section 6, Children), transnational drug smuggling, and organized begging rings. Some forms of child labor exposed children to land mines. Children faced numerous health and safety risks at work, and there were reports of sexual abuse of children by adult workers. There were reports of recruitment of juveniles by the ANDSF during the year. Taliban forces pressed children to take part in hostile acts (see section 6, Children).

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Romania

Executive Summary

Romania is a constitutional republic with a democratic, multiparty parliamentary system. The bicameral parliament consists of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, both elected by popular vote. The country held parliamentary elections in December 2016 that observers generally considered to be free and fair and without irregularities. In 2014 the country held presidential elections in which electoral observers noted irregularities, including insufficient polling stations for the large diaspora community.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included: endemic official corruption; police violence against the Roma community; and violence against LGBTI persons.

The judiciary took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses, but authorities delayed proceedings involving alleged police abuse; the result was that many of the cases ended in acquittals.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

The Institute for Investigating Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile is authorized to initiate criminal investigations of alleged communist-era crimes. On March 29, in a final ruling, the High Court upheld a 20-year prison sentence for inhuman treatment handed down to a former communist-era prison official. A second prison official from that era was also sentenced to 20 years.

On May 10, the trial began of former communist-era Securitate officials Marin Parvulescu, Vasile Hodis, and Tudor Postelnicu, accused of crimes against humanity before the Bucharest Court of Appeals. They were charged in the death of dissident Gheorghe Ursu, arrested and allegedly beaten to death by investigators and cellmates in 1985.

On June 13, the Military Prosecutor’s Office indicted several former high-level officials for crimes against humanity, including former president Ion Iliescu, former prime minister Petre Roman, former vice prime minister Gelu Voican Voiculescu, and former Romanian Intelligence Service director Virgil Magureanu. They were accused of involvement in the 1990 “miners’ riot,” when thousands of miners were brought to Bucharest to attack anticommunist demonstrators opposed to Iliescu’s rule. According to official figures, the violence resulted in hundreds of injuries, illegal arrests, and four deaths. Media estimates of injuries and deaths were much higher.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right. Independent organizations such as Media Monitoring Agency, Freedom House, and Center for Independent Journalism noted excessive politicization of the media, corrupt financing mechanisms, and editorial policies subordinated to owner interests.

Freedom of Expression: The law prohibits denying the Holocaust and promoting or using the symbols of fascist, racist, xenophobic, or Legionnaire ideologies, the latter being the nationalist, extremist, anti-Semitic interwar movement that was among the perpetrators of the Holocaust in the country.

During a February press conference, Internal Affairs Minister Carmen Dan accused by name several prominent journalists of supporting antigovernment street protests. She also criticized the Facebook group Corruption Kills for calling on persons to protest against the government. Journalists and NGOs characterized her statements as contrary to freedom of expression and termed the issuing of such public “black lists” an act of intimidation. The Association for Technology and Internet called Dan’s comments “a threat against those who use social media channels for communication.”

On December 11, during antigovernment protests against corruption, police declared they had begun criminal investigations against several persons who posted calls for protests on Facebook, claiming they incited breaches of public order and peace due to the language used in the postings. Such crimes are punishable by imprisonment ranging from three months to three years or a criminal fine.

Two major private broadcasters, Antena 3 and Romania Television, were controlled by businessmen who were vocal supporters of the government. Both outlets gave strongly critical and factually inaccurate coverage of the January antigovernment protests. NGOs protested that the outlets sought to compromise the demonstrators as well as freedom of expression. On January 29, an estimated 45,000 demonstrators marched in front of the office of the National Audio-Visual Council, accusing the council of intentional delays in ruling against the outlets. Following public and NGO pressure in February, the council fined the two stations 50,000 lei ($13,000) each for misinforming their viewers.

Press and Media Freedom: While independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without overt restriction, politicians or persons with close ties to politicians and political groups either owned or indirectly controlled numerous media outlets at the national and local levels. The news and editorial stance of these outlets frequently reflected their owners’ views. There were also allegations that owners suppressed stories at odds with their interests or threatened the authors of such stories.

Various media outlets led by businessmen who were either found guilty or were under investigation for alleged fraud and corrupt activities forced the departure of reporters known for their promotion of the rule of law. During the year the daily newspaper Romania Libera fired or forced out several investigative reporters who had reported on corruption cases. Ondine Ghergut and Malin Bot were fired in February. In October the owners prompted the departure of the newspaper’s editorial board, including editorial director Sabin Orcan, editor in chief Razvan Chiruta, deputy editor in chief Sabina Fati, and senior editors Catalin Prisacariu, Mircea Marian, Mihai Duta, Silviu Sergiu, and Petre Badica. According to media reports, they failed to meet the requirements of the newspaper’s owner Alexander Adamescu, a fugitive wanted in a fraud case, to editorialize against anticorruption prosecutors and the judicial system.

Violence and Harassment: In January, Romania Curata investigative reporter Daniel Befu appealed to authorities and the public to protect his family from acts of intimidation. Befu stated that someone had scrawled threatening graffiti on his parents’ house and other locations in his home city. The messages appeared after he published several investigative articles on alleged local corruption and the role of local criminal groups. The Internal Affairs Ministry had not identified any suspects as of September.

In July tax inspectors from the Finance Ministry began investigating the news group Rise Project and news website Hotnews. The investigations followed a series of articles by the two outlets on controversial domestic and international transactions allegedly coordinated by Chamber of Deputies president and Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea. Several NGOs and independent media groups asserted the tax inspection was aimed at intimidating the news organizations.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: In January the state agency Agerpres withdrew three translated reports from Reuters, Agence France Presse, and Deutsche Presse Agentur about the January protests. Agerpres stated that the three news items did not meet the agency’s standards. Marius Hosu, the reporter who selected the three articles, alleged censorship and notified the agency’s ethics committee.

Libel/Slander Laws: In March, Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea filed a criminal complaint for “harassment” against the news website Bucurestiul.ro, which covers and aggregates reports on the activities of Bucharest’s municipal government, including public expenses. Firea repeatedly denied media and NGOs access to city council meetings on budget matters.

INTERNET FREEDOM

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. According to statistics compiled by the International Telecommunication Union, approximately 60 percent of the population used the internet in 2016.

ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS

In March media outlets and NGOs accused the Excelsior Theater of censorship, purportedly at the behest of the Bucharest municipal government, for canceling a planned video on the January-February pro-rule-of-law street protests. NGOs and some media outlets noted the theater had hosted progovernment political events in the past and accused the theater’s management of yielding to political influence.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly, and the government generally respected it. The law provides that unarmed citizens may assemble peacefully but also stipulates that meetings must not interfere with other economic or social activities and may not take place near such locations as hospitals, airports, or military installations. Organizers of public assemblies must request permits in writing three days in advance from the mayor’s office of the locality where the gathering is to occur.

There were reports that some protesters had difficulty obtaining permits. Several LGBTI rights groups stated that in June, the Cluj-Napoca mayor’s office rejected 23 requests for organizing a pride march before finally granting approval. They also claimed the approved route was located in an area of the city far away from the center.

Ethnic Hungarians reported that in March, Targu Mures city authorities did not allow them to organize a march on Szekler Freedom Day (“Szekler” refers to ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania). They approved commemorations at the site of the Szekler Martyrs memorial but prohibited a march to take place afterward.

FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION

The constitution provides for freedom of association, and the government generally respected this right. The law prohibits fascist, racist, or xenophobic ideologies, organizations, and symbols.

Section 7. Worker Rights

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The minimum age for most forms of employment is 16. Children may work with the consent of parents or guardians at age 15 if the activities do not endanger their health, morality, or safety. The law prohibits minors (under 18) from working in hazardous conditions, provides a basis for the elimination of hazardous work for children, includes a list of dangerous jobs, and specifies penalties for offenders. Some examples of hazardous jobs for children include those posing a high risk of accident or damage to health, exposure to psychological or sexual risk, night shifts, exposure to harmful temperatures, and those requiring use of hazardous equipment. Parents whose children carry out hazardous activities are required to attend parental education programs or counseling and may be fined between 100 and 1,000 lei ($26 and $260) for failing to do so. Persons or companies who employ children for hazardous tasks may be fined 500 to 1,500 lei ($130 to $380).

Children who work have the right to continue their education, and the law obliges employers to assist in this regard. Children between the ages of 15 and 18 may work a maximum of six hours per day and no more than 30 hours per week, provided their school attendance is not affected. Many children reportedly did not attend school while working. Minors have the right to an additional three days of annual leave.

The law requires schools to notify social services immediately if children miss class to work, but schools often did not follow the law. Social welfare services have the responsibility to reintegrate such children into the educational system.

Penalties for violation of child labor laws include sentences ranging from one to two years’ imprisonment or fines. Violations were rarely prosecuted, and penalties were not sufficient to deter violations. The Ministry of Labor may impose fines and close factories where it finds exploitation of child labor. The National Authority for the Protection of the Rights of the Child and Adoption (ANPFDC) in the Labor Ministry has responsibility for investigating reports of child labor abuse, but enforcement of child labor laws tended to be lax, especially in rural areas with many agricultural households and where social welfare services lacked personnel and capacity to address child labor violations.

The ANPFDC is responsible for monitoring and coordinating all programs for the prevention and elimination of child labor. Government efforts focused on reacting to reported cases, and the ANPFDC dedicated limited resources to prevention programs. According to ANPFDC statistics, 337 children were subject to child labor in 2016. The incidence of child labor was widely believed to be much higher than official statistics reflected. Child labor, including begging, selling trinkets on the street, and washing windshields, remained widespread in Romani communities, especially in urban areas. Children as young as five engaged in such activities, and cases were usually documented only when police become involved. Of the 337 documented cases of child labor in 2016, authorities prosecuted only five alleged perpetrators.

Zambia

Executive Summary

Zambia is a constitutional republic governed by a democratically elected president and a unicameral national assembly. In August 2016 the country held elections under an amended constitution for president, national assembly seats, and local government, as well as a referendum on an enhanced bill of rights. The incumbent, Patriotic Front (PF) President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, was re-elected by a tight margin. A legal technicality saw the losing main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) candidate, Hakainde Hichilema, unsuccessfully challenge the election results. International and local observers deemed the election as having been credible but cited a number of irregularities. The pre-election and postelection periods were marred by limits on press freedom and political party intolerance resulting in sporadic violence across the country. Although the results ultimately were deemed a credible reflection of votes cast, media coverage, police actions, and legal restrictions heavily favored the ruling party and prevented the election from being genuinely fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. In accordance with the constitution, all security and defense service chiefs reported to the president through the minister of defense.

The most significant human rights issues included: arbitrary killings which were prosecuted by authorities; excessive use of force by police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest; interference with privacy; restrictions on freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly; high-level official corruption; trafficking in persons; and criminalization and arrest of persons engaged in consensual same-sex sexual relationships.

The government selectively applied the law to prosecute or punish individuals who committed abuses and mostly targeted those who opposed the ruling party. In addition impunity remained a problem, as ruling party supporters were either not prosecuted for serious crimes or, if prosecuted, released after serving small fractions of prison sentences.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were reports of extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents during the year. For example, on March 19, police brutally beat to death Mark Chongwa, an air force officer, while in detention for a minor traffic infraction. The Human Rights Commission (HRC) condemned the killing as an arbitrary deprivation of life, prompting the president to order a full inquiry into police actions. The HRC called for disciplinary action against the police officers responsible for the arrest and detention of Chongwa. Four individuals, including two police officers and two inmates, were arrested and charged with manslaughter. The case was referred to the High Court for prosecution; the trial continued at year’s end.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

Section 7. Worker Rights

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits the employment of children under age 15 at any commercial, agricultural, or domestic worksite or engaging a child in the worst forms of child labor as defined in international conventions. While the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act sets the minimum age for hazardous work at 18, it is not clear regarding the definition of a child. Various pieces of legislation define a child differently, which has implications on employment and education of children. Restrictions on child labor prohibit work that harms a child’s health and development or that prevents a child’s attendance at school. The law also prohibits the procurement or offering of a child for illicit activities.

According to UNICEF, there was a high prevalence of child labor, mostly in domestic and agricultural sectors mainly in rural areas. UNICEF noted there was a discrepancy between the right to education and child labor laws in the country. Although the law sets the minimum age of employment at 15, according to the Employment of Young Persons and Children Act, children ages 13 and 14 may be lawfully engaged in employment, as long as the work involved is not harmful to their health or development or prejudicial to their education. The Employment Act also permits the employment of children under age 15 receiving full-time education during school vacations or those who have either failed to secure admission to a suitable school or whose enrollment has been cancelled or terminated by the school authorities or for good cause by a parent. UNICEF reported that the majority of children worked in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, with 83 percent working in the informal sector and therefore unable to access full legal employment benefits.

The Ministry of Labor recorded three cases of child labor and forced child labor in the informal sector. For example, in Kasama district, a child was forced by his parents to work in a field. The district labor officer intervened, withdrew the child from fieldwork, and cautioned the parents. In another case, in Kehema district, a father allegedly impregnated his own 13-year-old daughter, forced her to work, and restricted her movements. The girl’s father was arrested and charged with incest; his trial continued at year’s end.

The government did not effectively enforce the law outside of the industrial sector. Resources, inspections, and remediation were inadequate. Secondary education is not compulsory, and children who are not enrolled are vulnerable to child labor. Thus, child labor was a problem in agriculture, domestic service, construction, farming, transportation, prostitution, quarrying, mining, and other sectors where children under age 15 often were employed.

While the labor commissioner effectively enforced minimum age requirements in the industrial sector, where there was little demand for child labor, the government seldom enforced minimum age standards in the informal sector, particularly in mining, agriculture, and domestic service. Because more than 92 percent of child labor occurred in the agricultural sector, most often with the consent of families, inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security focused on counseling and educating families that employed children. Authorities did not refer any cases of child labor for prosecution during the year. Due to the scarcity of transportation, labor inspectors frequently found it difficult to conduct inspections in rural areas. The production of crops such as cotton, tobacco, maize, coffee, and sunflowers exposed children to dangerous pesticides, fertilizers, snake and other animal bites, and injuries from carting heavy loads and using dangerous tools and machinery.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/findings/ .

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future