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Cabo Verde

Executive Summary

The government of Cabo Verde is a parliamentary representative democratic republic, largely modeled on the Portuguese system. Constitutional powers are shared between the head of state, President Jorge Carlos Fonseca, and head of government, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva. The Supreme Court, the National Electoral Commission, and international observers declared the 2016 nationwide legislative, presidential, and municipal elections generally free and fair.

Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included arbitrary deprivation of life; police use of excessive force and aggression against persons arrested and detained; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; abusive prison conditions; government infringement of freedom of the press; corruption ; trafficking in persons; failure to protect children from violence and work in precarious conditions; and failure to fully protect legal migrant workers.

The government at times took steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses. Impunity occurred in other cases.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected these rights. The independent press, effective judiciary, and functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press.

Press and Media Freedom: Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction. In March the minister of culture provoked an outcry from media professionals when he called on “old” journalists to step aside. At the same time, he spoke on the need to streamline government-run media and stated that innovation is the future. He appeared in the control room during a broadcast on the state-run television channel. Journalists sued, labeling his activities a form of intimidation, and the president of the journalists’ union called for his resignation. While neither side backed down, the standoff eventually faded with no major changes in policy.

Censorship or Content Restriction: Journalists and other media professionals practiced limited self-censorship, apparently largely due to their desire to retain their jobs. Journalists showed their ability and interest in playing a watchdog role.


The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.

According to the Cabo Verdean National Communications Authority’s 2016 Second Quarter Report, 70 percent of the population used the internet.


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

The constitution and law provide for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, or other persons of concern.


Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. The country has not established legislation or an institutional body for granting asylum or refugee status. While very few asylum applications were registered (UNHCR reported only two cases in 2011 and 2012 and none since), the actual number of asylum seekers was unknown, since there is no systematic procedure in place to register and process asylum claims. Because UNHCR does not have an established presence in the country, asylum seekers who request protection and assistance are referred by the International Organization for Migration to UNHCR’s regional representation for West Africa in Dakar, Senegal, which conducts refugee status determinations. Temporary protection mechanisms and access to basic services are in place for asylum seekers while they await a decision.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future