CABO VERDE: Tier 2

The Government of Cabo Verde does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Cabo Verde remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts by prosecuting its first forced labor case; creating the Observatory for Monitoring and Rapid Identification of Situations of Trafficking in Persons (the Observatory) to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts; and allocating a budget to the Ministry of Justice and Labor (MJT) for anti-trafficking efforts, including implementation of the anti-trafficking national action plan. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Law enforcement and front-line responders remained without formal procedures to identify and refer victims to care and training for law enforcement and judiciary officials remained ad hoc. The government did not maintain comprehensive law enforcement and victim protection data, and community awareness-raising efforts on human trafficking, including child sex tourism, remained insufficient on some islands.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish traffickers—including Cabo Verdean-American sex traffickers and sex tourists. • Develop and train officials on standardized procedures to identify trafficking victims—including adults and victims among vulnerable populations—and to refer victims to services. • Train law enforcement and judiciary officials on the 2015 anti-trafficking amendment, article 271-A. • Consistently refer potential trafficking victims to government and NGO shelters to ensure all identified trafficking victims receive care and collect data on such efforts. • Increase efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking, including child sex trafficking and domestic servitude. • Develop a system to compile and share comprehensive anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim identification data among agencies. • Increase collaboration with foreign governments on cases of transnational trafficking and child sex tourism involving foreign nationals. • Develop procedures for victims to claim compensation from traffickers.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Article 271-A of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of four to 10 years’ imprisonment; these penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regards to sex trafficking, commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape.

The government did not report comprehensive law enforcement statistics. According to news reports and international organization officials, the government initiated one new forced labor investigation (eight initiated in 2018) in addition to continuing seven investigations from the previous reporting period. The new forced labor investigation remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government prosecuted nine suspects (four in 2018) and convicted two traffickers (two in 2018). The forced labor investigation led to the prosecution of three suspects, which remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period. In one case, the government prosecuted four alleged sex traffickers as a cybercrime case; two defendants were convicted and two defendants were acquitted. The two convicted traffickers received prison sentences of 35 years and 14 years. The seven investigations initiated during the previous reporting period involved suspected foreign sex traffickers and remained ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government launched an investigation into one National Police (PN) officer during the reporting period as part of a broader forced labor investigation but did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.

Law enforcement and judges lacked understanding of trafficking crimes and the 2015 anti-trafficking amendment—article 271-A, resulting in weak and inconsistent efforts to identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking cases. While it did not provide training to such officials, the government provided modest financial support to enable 40 law enforcement and justice officials to attend nine international anti-trafficking trainings and conferences. In addition, an international organization, funded by a foreign donor, provided two five-day anti-trafficking trainings to 40 law enforcement and judicial officials on victim-centered investigations, prosecutions, and victim protection and assistance; the government provided in-kind support for these trainings. An international organization developed a module on human trafficking, including victim identification, for new police officers during standard academy training; the government trained an unknown number of new police officers on the module during the reporting period. The MJT, in partnership with a foreign donor, began development of an online training for PN officers to supplement the current training plan. Insufficient staffing and a lack of resources confined the Judicial Police’s (PJ) presence to four of the country’s nine inhabited islands, impeding the government’s ability to identify victims, investigate crimes, and collect comprehensive data. Government social service providers preferred to resolve intra-familial abuse cases—which could include child sex trafficking—through non-judicial means.

PROTECTION

The government maintained efforts to protect trafficking victims. Although it did not provide comprehensive statistics on the number of trafficking victims identified and referred to care, the government identified at least four forced labor victims in the course of human trafficking investigations. In partnership with an international organization, the MJT provided shelter, basic services, and security to these four victims. This was similar to the government’s identification and assistance of five sex trafficking victims in the previous reporting period. The government did not have formal procedures for all law enforcement or social workers to identify trafficking victims nor did the government have a formal mechanism to refer trafficking victims to care. Border police had written procedures to identify trafficking victims and people vulnerable to trafficking, although they did not receive training on such procedures.

There were no shelters or services available 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 Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA) operated a national network to assist child victims of sexual abuse, which could coordinate referral to care and support through court processes. Law enforcement and first responders generally referred all victims to either ICCA (for child victims), the Public Ministry (for victims requiring long-term care), or MJT, who then referred child victims of any crime to ICCA, women to the Cabo Verdean Institute for Gender Equality (ICIEG) or an NGO, and foreign victims to an international organization. The government acknowledged its ad hoc, informal referral system was insufficient. ICCA did not report screening for trafficking indicators among victims referred to its shelters. ICCA operated four shelters on three of Cabo Verde’s nine inhabited islands that provided temporary accommodation and care for child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment, and maintained five protection and social reinsertion centers, which provided services for children who experienced prolonged trauma, including trafficking. ICCA had staff on all nine islands. The government-funded, and police provided security for, ICCA and ICIEG shelters.

Law enforcement could conduct sex trafficking victim interviews in collaboration with psychologists and, in cases of children, the victims’ parents, to provide a comfortable and safe environment. The government did not report if it provided these benefits to any victims during the reporting period. Cabo Verdean law provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution; authorities provided these benefits to at least four Chinese forced labor victims during the reporting period. The government also employed a Mandarin-Portuguese interpreter to assist the victims during meetings with law enforcement. During the reporting period, the Cabo Verde consulate in Brazil assisted a sex trafficking victim with travel documents and repatriation back to Cabo Verde. The law provides for restitution and allows victims to file civil suits against traffickers but the government did not report using these provisions during the reporting period. There were no reports officials penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit; however, due to the lack of formal victim identification procedures, some victims may have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.

PREVENTION

The government increased prevention efforts. In July 2018, the government launched the Observatory for Monitoring and Rapid Identification of Situations of Trafficking in Persons (the Observatory) to coordinate the government’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons. The Observatory comprises officials from the MJT, PN, PJ, ICCA, ICIEG, Ministry of Education, Family, and Social Inclusion (MEFIS), other government institutions, NGOs, and civil society organizations. At the same event, the government formally presented the 2018-2021 anti-trafficking national action plan finalized in the previous reporting period. The Observatory held its first meeting in October 2018 and met three times during the reporting period. MJT continued to lead the government’s anti-trafficking efforts and received a budget of 4 million escudos ($42,160) for anti-trafficking activities including implementation of the national action plan in 2019 in addition to 980,000 escudos ($10,330) allocated in 2018; the MJT did not receive a budget for anti-trafficking activities in the previous reporting period. The MJT produced shirts and datebooks to raise awareness of participation in an international organization’s awareness campaign. The PN led community events with a foreign law enforcement partner regarding reporting crimes, including trafficking.

ICCA continued to operate three centers for street children through its Nos Kaza project and six day centers, all of which aimed to reduce the vulnerability of street children to forced labor and sexual abuse, including sex trafficking. ICCA operated a 24/7 hotline to report cases of violence against children, including trafficking, but it did not report receiving calls regarding trafficking among the 1,182 calls received in 2018. It was unclear if ICCA trained hotline workers to differentiate trafficking from similar crimes, such as child labor or sexual abuse. NGOs reported an unspecified number of cases in which the government charged parents with negligence for failing to protect their children from child sex tourists. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex that equated to child sex trafficking, but it did not make efforts to reduce demand for other forms of commercial sex. Government ministries continued to implement the 2017-2019 National Plan to Combat Sexual Abuse and Violence, which included child sex tourism. The government continued to enforce the Ethics Code of Conduct for Tourism, which includes provisions countering child sex tourism. ICCA launched a new campaign called “Stop the Violence against Children and Adolescents,” which included messaging against child sexual exploitation and child sex tourism. The campaign included the launch of a new hotline for sexual abuse and child sex trafficking cases, alongside events at schools and public institutions, and airing of television commercials. The government did not make broad or concerted efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Cabo Verde, and, to a lesser extent, traffickers exploit victims from Cabo Verde abroad. Boys and girls, some of whom may be foreign nationals, are victims of sex trafficking on Brava, Santiago, Fogo, Sal, and Boa Vista, sometimes through child sex tourism. In the past, officials reported child sexual abuse perpetrated by tourists on the islands of Sal, Boa Vista, Sao Vicente, Fogo, and Maio. In some cases, parents encourage their daughters to be exploited in prostitution by tourists—especially Cabo Verdean-Americans—to gain immigrant visas to the United States or remittances to support the family. Authorities increasingly identify West African women—including Nigerians and Senegalese—in forced prostitution, including on Boa Vista and Sal Islands and sometimes through sex tourism. On Sao Vicente, girls as young as 12 years old have been sexually exploited in exchange for drugs. 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. Children living in impoverished neighborhoods with little state presence are also at risk, especially for sex trafficking. In previous years, there were reports traffickers may have forced Cabo Verdean women and children to transport drugs. West African migrants may transit the archipelago en route to situations of exploitation in Europe. Some adult migrants from China and ECOWAS countries may receive low wages, work without contracts, and have irregular status, rendering them vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, four Chinese nationals, two girls and two men, were exploited in forced labor in the retail sector. NGOs reported Nigerian criminal syndicates exploited Cabo Verdean women in sex trafficking in Brazil during the reporting period. In a previous reporting period, there was one case of a Cabo Verdean man subjected to forced labor in Europe.

U.S. Department of State

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