The government increased 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 and provided services to at least one child sex trafficking victim during the reporting period, compared with identifying four forced labor victims during the previous reporting period. In addition, ICCA identified and provided assistance to 185 potential child sex trafficking victims and 30 potential child labor victims through its hotline in 2019. 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, which included trafficking victims. 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 interviews of sex trafficking victims 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 and reported it was often difficult to provide meaningful protection to victim-witnesses in the Cabo Verdean context due to the small population and close-knit community. Cabo Verdean law provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution; authorities did not report providing these benefits to any victims during the reporting period. In April 2019, the government repatriated two minor victims identified during the previous reporting period to China when the victims requested repatriation. The law provides for restitution, but the government did not report pursuing restitution in any cases during the reporting period. In addition, victims can file civil suits against traffickers, but no victims reportedly pursued civil suits during the reporting period, in part due to lack of awareness of the option. 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.