The government maintained mixed protection efforts. Weak case management and data collection hindered the government’s ability to track victim-related statistics, and as in previous years, the government did not provide comprehensive data on the number of trafficking victims it identified and referred to services. The government identified and referred one forced labor victim to an international organization for care, but the victim reportedly declined services. This compared with identifying and referring one forced labor victim to care during the previous reporting period. The ICCA, which had personnel located on all nine islands, identified and provided assistance to at least 133 vulnerable children, which may have included potential trafficking victims, in 2021, compared with 196 vulnerable children the previous year. ICCA did not report screening victims referred to its shelters for trafficking indicators.
In September 2021, the government finalized and launched SOPs for trafficking victim identification and referral to services in partnership with an international organization and foreign donor. However, the government had not yet fully implemented the newly-adopted procedures or conducted any trainings for officials on the procedures by the end of the reporting period; therefore, victim identification and protection efforts remained limited. DEF officers had written victim identification procedures but did not consistently receive training on them. The Ministry of Justice (MJ), in collaboration with an international organization, previously developed a child protection case management system for protection actors to identify and track child victims of exploitation, including child trafficking; however, it was not operationalized for the second consecutive year.
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 potential trafficking victims. Law enforcement and first responders could refer child victims to ICCA, victims requiring long-term care to the Public Ministry, adult female victims to the Cabo Verdean Institute for Gender Equality (ICIEG) or NGOs, and foreign victims to the High Authority for Migration (AAI) or an international organization. ICCA operated a national network to assist child victims of crime, including with referral to care and legal support, and operated 15 centers on eight of Cabo Verde’s nine inhabited islands that provided care for child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment, including at least two centers located on both the islands of Santiago and Sao Vicente that provided 24-hour emergency care. The government funded and provided police security to ICCA and ICIEG shelters. AAI opened the first of five planned centers to assist and provide social services to migrants.
Law enforcement had policies to interview sex trafficking victims in collaboration with psychologists and, in cases of child victims, in collaboration with the victims’ parents, as appropriate. 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 continued providing in-kind support to an NGO project seeking to enhance the justice system’s capacity to support child victims of sexual abuse, including trafficking. 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. The law provided for restitution, and in one case noted above, the court awarded a victim 400,000 escudos ($4,110) in restitution. The government did not report if the restitution was paid by the end of the reporting period. In addition, victims could file civil suits against traffickers, but no victims reportedly did so, in part due to lack of awareness. Due to limited use of formal identification procedures and screening of vulnerable populations, including individuals in commercial sex and migrants, some victims may have remained unidentified within the law enforcement system.