Covid-19, Poverty, and Child Labor in Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda

The 69-page report, “I Must Work to Eat”: Covid-19, Poverty, and Child labor in Ghana, Nepal, and Uganda,” was co-published with Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) in Uganda, and Friends of the Nation in Ghana. Researchers examined the rise in child labor and poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the pandemic’s impact on children’s rights. Children described working long, grueling hours for little pay after their parents lost jobs or income due to the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Many described hazardous working conditions, and some reported violence, harassment, and pay theft.

A child sits on the sidewalk in front of a display of goods to sell


  • November 24, 2020

    Jewelry Companies, Changing Sourcing Practices, and Covid-19

    The 84-page report, “Sparkling Jewels, Opaque Supply Chains: Jewelry Companies, Changing Sourcing Practices, and Covid-19,” scrutinizes and gives rankings to 15 jewelry and watch brands in their efforts to prevent and address human rights abuses and environmental harm in their gold and diamond supply chains. Human Rights Watch reviewed the companies’ actions since Human Rights Watch first reported on these issues in 2018. While a majority of the jewelry companies examined have taken some steps to improve their practices, most still fall short of meeting international standards.

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  • June 11, 2019

    Serious Abuses Against Talibé Children in Senegal, 2017-2018

    Nearly 10 years after Human Rights Watch’s first report documenting abuses against talibé children in Senegal, the scale of ongoing abuse remains staggering. Over 100,000 talibé children living in traditional Quranic schools are forced to beg daily by their teachers. This report documents scores of serious abuses committed against talibé children in 2017 and 2018 by Quranic teachers or their assistants, including forced begging, beatings, sexual abuse, chaining, imprisonment, and the deaths of 16 talibé children due to abuse, neglect or endangerment. The report also documents human trafficking and dangers linked to talibé migration. 

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  • April 5, 2018

    Child Labor and Human Rights Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe

    This report documents how children work in hazardous conditions, performing tasks that threaten their health and safety or interfere with their education. Child workers are exposed to nicotine and toxic pesticides, and many suffer symptoms consistent with nicotine poisoning from handling tobacco leaves. Adults working on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe also face serious health risks and labor abuses.

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    Cover of the Zimbabwe report in English
  • February 8, 2018

    Human Rights in Supply Chains and the Responsibility of Jewelry Companies

    This report scrutinizes the sourcing of gold and diamonds by 13 major jewelry and watch brands that collectively generate over US$30 billion in annual revenue – about 10 percent of global jewelry sales.

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    Cover of the Jewelry report
  • July 11, 2017

    Government Program to Protect Talibé Children in Senegal Falls Short

    This report examines the successes and failings of the first year of the new government program to remove children forced to beg from the streets. The report documents the ongoing abuses faced by many talibé children in Dakar and four other regions during – and despite – the program, including pervasive forced begging, violence and physical abuse, chaining and imprisonment, and sexual abuse. Human Rights Watch and the PPDH also assessed the ongoing challenge of ensuring justice for these abuses.

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    Cover of the Senegal report
  • June 27, 2017

    Forced and Child Labor Linked to World Bank Group Investments in Uzbekistan

    This report details how the Uzbek government forced students, teachers, medical workers, other government employees, private-sector employees, and sometimes children to harvest cotton in 2015 and 2016, as well as to weed the fields and plant cotton in the spring of 2016. The government has threatened to fire people, stop welfare payments, and suspend or expel students if they refuse to work in the cotton fields.

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    Cover of the Uzbekistan report
  • July 19, 2016

    Barriers to Education for Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon

    This report documents the important steps Lebanon has taken to allow Syrian children to access public schools. But Human Rights Watch found that some schools have not complied with enrollment policies, and that more donor support is needed for Syrian families and for Lebanon’s over-stretched public school system. Lebanon is also undermining its positive education policy by imposing harsh residency requirements that restrict refugees’ freedom of movement and exacerbate poverty, limiting parents’ ability to send their children to school and contributing to child labor. Secondary school-age children and children with disabilities face particularly difficult obstacles.

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  • July 14, 2016

    Hazardous Child Labor in Afghanistan

    This report documents how child workers work dangerous jobs in Afghanistan’s carpet industry; as bonded labor in brick kilns; and as metal workers. They perform tasks that could result in illness, injury, or even death due to hazardous working conditions and poor enforcement of safety and health standards. Many children who work under those conditions combine the burdens of a job with school, or forego education altogether. Working compels many children in Afghanistan to leave school prematurely. Only half of children involved in child labor attend school.

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  • May 30, 2016

    A Call for a Binding Global Standard on Due Diligence

    This report draws upon two decades of Human Rights Watch research on child labor and other labor rights abuses, environmental damage, and violations of the rights to health, land, food, and water, in the context of global supply chains.

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  • May 24, 2016

    Hazardous Child Labor in Tobacco Farming in Indonesia

    This report documents how child tobacco workers are exposed to nicotine, handle toxic chemicals, use sharp tools, lift heavy loads, and work in extreme heat. The work could have lasting consequences for their health and development. Companies should ban suppliers from using children for work that involves direct contact with tobacco, and the Indonesian government should regulate the industry to hold them accountable.


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  • December 9, 2015

    Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming

    The 73-page report, “Teens of the Tobacco Fields: Child Labor in United States Tobacco Farming,” documents the harm caused to 16- and 17-year-olds who work long hours as hired laborers on US tobacco farms, exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and extreme heat. Nearly all of the teenagers interviewed suffered symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning – nausea, vomiting, headaches, or dizziness – while working on tobacco farms.


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  • September 29, 2015

    Hazardous Child Labor in Small-Scale Gold Mining in the Philippines

    This 39-page report documents how thousands of Filipino children – some just 9 years old – work in illegal, small-scale gold mines, mostly financed by local businessmen. Children work in unstable 25-meter-deep pits or underwater along the coastal shore or in rivers, and process gold with mercury, a toxic metal. In September 2014, a 17-year-old boy suffocated in an underground mine because there was no machine providing oxygen. The Philippine government should act on its public commitment to end child labor in mining, Human Rights Watch said.

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  • June 10, 2015

    Child Labor and Corporate Responsibility in Ghana’s Artisanal Gold Mines

    This 82-page report documents the use of child labor in Ghana’s artisanal, or unlicensed, mines, where most mining takes place. It is estimated that thousands of children work in hazardous conditions in violation of Ghanaian and international law. They pull the gold ore out of shafts, carry and crush loads of ore, and process it with toxic mercury.

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    ) A 13-year-old boy works in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in Obuasi. He dropped out of school at the age of 12 and would like to continue his education.
  • April 13, 2015

    Palestinian Child Labor in Israeli Agricultural Settlements in the West Bank

    This 74-page report documents that children as young as 11 work on some settlement farms, often in high temperatures. The children carry heavy loads, are exposed to hazardous pesticides, and in some cases have to pay themselves for medical treatment for work-related injuries or illness.

    Palestinian laborers, including a 16-year-old, head out to work at a farm on an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.