The government increased efforts to identify trafficking victims, but maintained limited protection efforts. It identified at least six female sex trafficking victims from ECOWAS countries and 18 potential child forced labor victims, compared with two victims identified in the previous reporting period. The government did not have formal procedures for law enforcement or social workers to identify trafficking victims, nor did it have a formal mechanism to refer trafficking victims to care. Authorities lacked training to differentiate trafficking victims from smuggling victims and victims of child abuse from child forced labor and child sex trafficking, which resulted in incomplete and inconsistent data on the number of trafficking victims identified and referred to care. Border police had written procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims and people vulnerable to trafficking, although officials neither received training on such procedures nor implemented them uniformly during the reporting period.
An international organization provided temporary shelter to two identified victims and funded their subsequent repatriation; the government provided security for the shelter and issued laissez-passer cards to facilitate repatriation. Neither the government nor NGOs reported providing shelter, psycho-social, or repatriation assistance to the other identified victims. There were no shelters or services specifically for trafficking victims, but government-funded agencies provided emergency services, temporary shelter, and psycho-social care to at-risk populations and female and child victims of crime that trafficking victims could access. The government’s Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA) operated a national network to prevent and provide assistance to victims of child sexual abuse, which could be used to coordinate the referral of child trafficking victims to care and support throughout court processes. It operated two shelters that provided temporary care for child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment, and maintained five protection and social reinsertion centers, which provided services for children experiencing long-term trauma, including trafficking. ICCA removed 18 child potential forced labor victims from exploitative conditions in domestic service and street vending and referred them to its shelters. The government did not report assisting any other potential or identified trafficking victims in these shelters during the reporting period, but due to the lack of formal procedures to identify victims, it is possible that some unidentified trafficking victims received care in these shelters.
Law enforcement conducted sex trafficking victim interviews in collaboration with psychologists and, in cases of children, the victims’ parents, to provide a comfortable and safe environment. In addition, the government could expedite the investigation and prosecution of cases involving sexual violence, including sex trafficking. Cabo Verdean law does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. There is no mechanism by which a victim could obtain restitution from the government or file a civil suit against a trafficker. There were no reports officials fined, detained, or penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; due to the lack of formal victim identification procedures, however, some victims may have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.