Know your rights: The right to protection from unsuitable or forced labour

According to article 4 of N° 13/2009 of 27/05/2009, the law regulating labour in Rwanda, it is illegal to employ a child below the age of 16, even as a trainee in any company. This is because employment interferes with education and is also likely to compromise a child’s physical, emotional and social development. 

However, a child who aged between 16 and 18 can be employed but the law regulating labour in Rwanda puts limitations on the type of work that he/she is allowed to do.

In this regard, article 5 of the law regulating labour in Rwanda states that an employed child has to rest for a minimum of 12 consecutive hours between two working periods.

Additionally, a child is only allowed to do the kind of work which is within his/her capacity. This is according to article 6 of the law regulating labour in Rwanda. This means that night employment, work that involves hard labour and doing work in dirty and dangerous places that could affect a child’s health, education and morality is prohibited.

In order to determine that a child isn’t doing work that is harmful to his/her health, article 7 paragraph one of the law regulating labour in Rwanda says that a labour inspector can request for examination by a recognised doctor.

According to article 7 paragraph two of the labour law, the child’s contract is terminated and he/she is given notice allowance if upon examination, it is established that the work environment and roles are not suitable for him/her.

If a child is being involved in an activity that is illegal or unsuitable for his/her age under Rwandan law, this is considered as economic exploitation. Article 51 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child provides a list of such activities and they include drug trafficking, alcohol usage, cigarette business, prostitution, beggary and pornography.

Article 52 paragraph two of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child prohibits employing a child under the age of 17 in underground mines.

Overall, it is illegal to force anyone to do any kind of work. Doing this is regarded as forced labour, according to article 8 of the law regulating labour in Rwanda. However, forced labour does not include the work done under military service; work done while implementing civic education, the work resulting from a court decision or during an emergency such as war or disaster.


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