The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. Case management and the ability to track victim-related statistics were relatively weak in Cabo Verde, and as in previous years, the government did not provide comprehensive statistics on the number of trafficking victims identified and referred to care. The government identified at least one forced labor victim during the reporting period, compared with identifying at least one child sex trafficking victim during the previous reporting period. Authorities identified one foreign woman exploited in domestic servitude and referred her to an international organization for care. The international organization repatriated the victim with the government’s assistance. In addition, the government’s Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA) identified and provided assistance to at least 196 vulnerable children, including potential trafficking victims, in 2020, compared with identifying 215 vulnerable children in the previous reporting period. The government did not have a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims and refer them to care. Border police had written victim identification procedures but did not consistently receive training on the procedures. During the reporting period, the government drafted standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to services in partnership with an international organization and foreign donor; the SOPs were pending final approval at the end of the reporting period. The government and an international organization held webinars with over 20 government agencies and civil society organizations on the draft procedures.
There were no shelters or services specifically for trafficking victims, but government-funded agencies provided emergency services, shelter, and psycho-social care to at-risk populations and female and child victims of crime, including trafficking victims. ICCA operated a national network to assist child victims of sexual abuse, including referral to care and legal support. Law enforcement and first responders generally referred child victims to ICCA, victims requiring long-term care to the Public Ministry, women to the Cabo Verdean Institute for Gender Equality (ICIEG) or NGOs, and foreign victims to an international organization. Officials acknowledged the ad hoc, informal referral system was insufficient. ICCA did not report screening victims referred to its shelters for trafficking. ICCA operated three 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 reintegration centers, which provided services for children who experienced prolonged trauma, including trafficking. Two of the centers, located on the islands of Santiago and Sao Vicente, provided 24-hour emergency care, including to child victims from other islands. ICCA had staff on all nine islands. The government funded and provided police security to ICCA and ICIEG shelters.
Law enforcement maintained policies to interview sex trafficking victims in collaboration with psychologists and, in cases of child victims, the victims’ parents, as appropriate, to provide a comfortable and safe environment; but, the government did not report providing these benefits to any victims during the reporting period. Authorities noted it was difficult to provide meaningful protection to victim-witnesses due to the small population and close-knit community. The government provided in-kind support to an NGO project aiming to enhance the justice system’s capacity to support child victims of sexual abuse, including trafficking, and train judicial and child protection actors on victim-centered care. 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. The law provided for restitution, but the government did not report pursuing restitution in any cases during the reporting period. In addition, victims could 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.