Algeria — a country characterized by political instability — has made some strides to address the worst forms of child labor. However, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), “The government has not sufficiently prohibited the use of children in illicit activities or determined by national law or regulation the types of work that are hazardous for children to perform.” Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about child labor in Algeria.
7 Facts About Child Labor in Algeria
- Although the legal minimum age for work eligibility is 16, 6.7 percent of children in Algeria (ages 5 to 14) are currently working. This amounts to more than 413,000 working children.
- While there has been no comprehensive study that provides more insight into the scope of each sector of work, it is known that children in Algeria work on farms, usually harvesting olives; in the street, vending, collecting plastics and even begging. Others perform various services for businesses and workshops and do domestic work. However, the worst type of child labor is in the form of commercial sexual exploitation that often results in human trafficking and participation in drug smuggling.
- Granting children access to education is known to help reduce rates of child labor. Algeria offers free public schooling for anyone with a valid birth certificate and 92.3 percent of children attend school. However, the lack of teachers trained to help with students who have disabilities and the existing stigma keep many children with disabilities from attending school. Additionally, many migrant children do not have birth certificates making them ineligible. For these reasons, both of these populations are particularly vulnerable to child labor.
- Child labor is often associated with immigrant communities in Algeria. Migrant children who are subject to work are primarily from the sub-Saharan region of Africa and are most likely to be forced into sexual exploitation and domestic work. Additionally, migrants from Niger are known to bring children “rented” from smuggling networks along with them while begging in the streets.
- Fortunately, the Algerian government recognizes this as a major problem and has been working to end child labor within their borders. In 2016 the government began a campaign titled The National Commission for the Prevention of and Fight Against Child Labor, creating radio and television programs that spread awareness about the negative effects of child labor and working to bring that message into religious sermons. The initiative also offers assistance to families in need, in the hope that lessening their financial stress will reduce the likelihood of the children being sent to work. While this campaign is a step in the right direction, there is no evidence on how effective it has been, and the Bureau of International Labor Affairs considers it to be only a “moderate advancement” along the path to end child labor.
- The Bureau of International Labor states that in the fight to end child labor it is essential not only to create relevant policy but also to assign the issue to a centralized government body or authority in order to stay up to date on the issue and monitor the effectiveness of the policy. Algeria has successfully done this by delegating the issue to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare’s Labor Inspection Directorate. This has resulted in advancements such as the Ministry of Labor organizing training sessions for 136 judges on the legal framework for the protection of children.
- The government has made a difference through policy as well with the National Action Plan for the Prevention of and Fight Against Trafficking in Persons. While this policy is more focused on the specific issue of human trafficking, this inevitably intertwined with child labor and has resulted in 79 prosecuted child labor cases.
– Madeline Lyons