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.