CABO VERDE: Tier 2
Cabo Verde is a source, transit, and destination country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking within the country and in Guinea. Boys and girls, some of whom may be foreign nationals, are exploited in prostitution in Santa Maria, Praia, and Mindelo. Sex tourism, at times involving children in prostitution, also occurs. Children in domestic service often work long hours and at times experience physical and sexual abuse—indicators of forced labor. Cabo Verdean children engaged in begging, street vending, car washing, garbage picking, and agriculture are vulnerable to trafficking. Adult migrants from China, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Nigeria, and other ECOWAS countries may receive low wages, work without contracts, and be in irregular status, creating vulnerabilities to forced labor. West African migrants may transit the archipelago en route to situations of exploitation in Europe.
The Government of Cabo Verde does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government conducted three prosecutions and enacted a new law that prohibits trafficking offenses against foreign workers. The government also continued efforts to prevent the sexual exploitation of children through the creation of a national coordinating committee and the development of a code of ethics for the tourism industry. However, it did not report any convictions relating to trafficking offenses, identify or offer any specialized services to victims, or conduct any national awareness campaigns during the reporting period.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CABO VERDE:
Enact legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes sufficiently stringent punishments; use existing laws to vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; take appropriate steps to clarify that Cabo Verdean law prohibits facilitating the prostitution of children aged 16 and 17; provide specialized training to law enforcement officials and judicial personnel on how to identify trafficking victims and investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses; develop and implement procedures for the identification and referral of trafficking victims amongst vulnerable populations; develop a system to compile comprehensive anti-trafficking law enforcement data; increase efforts to raise public awareness about human trafficking; expand the mandate of labor inspectors to include the regulation of informal sectors; and draft and implement a national action plan on trafficking in persons.
The government continued to make minimal law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking. Cabo Verdean law does not specifically prohibit all forms of trafficking, though several existing statutes cover certain forms. Article 14 of the labor code prohibits forced labor and Article 271 of the penal code outlaws slavery, both of which prescribe sufficiently stringent penalties of six to 12 years’ imprisonment. Article 148 of the penal code outlaws facilitating prostitution of children under the age of 16 and prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties of two to eight years’ imprisonment when crimes involve victims under 14 years and one to five years’ imprisonment in cases with victims aged 14 or 15. The penalties for victims aged 14 or 15 are not sufficiently stringent or commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape. The penal code does not prohibit or punish those who facilitate the prostitution of children aged 16 and 17. Investigations into sex crimes, including child prostitution, involving children aged 14 and 15 require complaints from the child’s legal guardian; government officials indicated no such case has ever been reported to police. Thus, children in prostitution aged 14 to 17 are rendered virtually invisible to law enforcement and social welfare officials under existing law, granting impunity to those who profit from their exploitation. In July 2014, a Law of Foreigners was passed to address the regulation of foreign workers and visitors in Cabo Verde; the law outlaws the act of knowingly subjecting an undocumented migrant worker to trafficking and prescribes a penalty of two to six years’ imprisonment. In December 2014, the Ministry of Justice drafted an anti-trafficking amendment to the penal code; this amendment was not enacted during the reporting period.
The government failed to provide comprehensive law enforcement statistics during the reporting period. However, the government conducted at least one investigation, which resulted in three prosecutions for child sex trafficking—compared with two investigations, three prosecutions, and three convictions reported in the previous reporting period. A Cabo Verdean court ultimately acquitted the three alleged traffickers prosecuted during the reporting period, citing a lack of sufficient evidence. In collaboration with an international donor, the government co-hosted training for 33 law enforcement and judicial personnel on the identification of trafficking victims. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government made minimal efforts to protect child trafficking victims. The government did not identify or provide care to any trafficking victims during the reporting period, which is a decrease compared with the 17 victims identified during the previous reporting period. There are no shelters or services available specifically for trafficking victims. However, the government operated two shelters, which provided temporary care for child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment, and maintained five protection and social reinsertion centers, which provided access to reintegration services for children experiencing long-term trauma. The government also continued to operate six day centers through its Nos Kaza project, which aims to reduce the vulnerability of street children to forced labor and sexual abuse, including prostitution.
Border police have written procedures to guide officers in proactive identification of trafficking victims; however, these procedures were not fully implemented during the reporting period. The government did not have a formal referral mechanism for trafficking victims in place. However, the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents continued to operate a national network to prevent and provide assistance to victims of child sexual abuse, which coordinated their referral to care and offered support throughout court processes. The government continued to operate a hotline for reporting cases of child abuse, including sexual exploitation and child labor; however, it is unclear whether any cases of trafficking were reported. Cabo Verdean law does not provide for legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. There were no reports officials penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking.
The government sustained modest efforts to prevent trafficking. There was no government entity specifically mandated to coordinate efforts to combat trafficking and no national action plan. In July 2014, however, the government created a national committee dedicated to preventing the sexual exploitation of children; the committee met four times during the reporting period. The government also continued to operate a national committee dedicated to the prevention and elimination of child labor, which also met four times during the reporting period. The government, however, did not identify any forced child labor cases, and labor inspectors were not mandated to conduct inspections in informal sectors, where the majority of forced labor in Cabo Verde occurs. The government did not conduct any national awareness campaigns during the reporting period. In July 2014, the government adopted a code of ethics for the tourism sector in an effort to combat the sexual exploitation of children. The government did not make any tangible efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.