Cape Verde

2013 Trafficking in Persons Report
Tier 2

Cape Verde is a source country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking within the country and, at times, a source for persons trafficked to Brazil, Portugal, and other countries in Europe for forced transport of drugs. Migrants from China, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, and Senegal may receive low wages, work without contracts, and not have regularized their visa status, creating vulnerabilities to forced labor. West African migrants may transit the archipelago en route to situations of exploitation in Europe. Cape Verdean children work in domestic service, often working long hours and at times experiencing physical and sexual abuse—indicators of forced labor. Reports indicate that boys and girls, some of whom may be foreign nationals, are exploited in prostitution in Santa Maria, Praia, and Mindelo. Sex tourism, at times involving prostituted children, is a problem in Cape Verde. Cape Verdean adults and children are at risk of being deceived or forced into transporting drugs to or within Brazil and Portugal. Between 2010 and 2012, three Cape Verdean trafficking victims were identified in Guinea.

The Government of Cape Verde does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government investigated at least two cases involving alleged child prostitution, an increase compared to its failure to investigate any cases of suspected human trafficking in the previous reporting period. In addition, it began prosecution of three offenders in one case. The Cape Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA), under the Ministry of Youth, Employment, and Human Resources Development, made concerted efforts to protect child victims of sexual abuse, including children in prostitution, and to assist vulnerable children. Despite these efforts, the government did not prosecute or convict any trafficking offenders during the year. Furthermore, it did not make efforts to identify any trafficking victims or reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

Recommendations for Cape Verde: Draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation consistent with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, including a broad definition of trafficking in persons that does not rely on evidence of movement but rather on exploitation; prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders under existing law; ensure Cape Verdean law prohibits facilitating the prostitution of children ages 16 and 17; train law enforcement officials to use existing laws to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses; develop and implement procedures for the identification of trafficking victims amongst vulnerable populations; compile anti-trafficking law enforcement data; and launch a targeted anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.


The Government of Cape Verde demonstrated minimal efforts to combat human trafficking during the year; however, it did not prosecute or convict any trafficking offenders. Cape Verdean law does not specifically prohibit all forms of trafficking, though several existing statutes cover certain forms. Article 14 of the labor code prohibits forced labor and Article 271 of the penal code outlaws slavery, both of which prescribe sufficiently stringent penalties of six to 12 years’ imprisonment. Article 148 of the penal code outlaws facilitating prostitution of children under the age of 16 and prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties of two to eight years’ imprisonment for victims under 14 years and one to five years for victims aged 14 or 15. These penalties are not commensurate with penalties for other grave crimes, such as rape. The penal code does not prohibit or punish those who facilitate the prostitution of children aged 16 and 17. Investigations into sex crimes involving children aged 14 and 15 require complaints from the child’s legal guardian; government officials indicate that no such case has ever been reported to police. Prostituted children aged 14 to 17 are rendered virtually invisible to law enforcement and social welfare officials under existing law, granting impunity to those who profit from their exploitation.

During the year, the judicial police investigated at least two cases of child prostitution reported by the ICCA. In February 2013, the government began prosecution of three men involved in the prostitution of teenage boys between the ages of 12 and 14 transported from Praia to other parts of the island of Santiago for prearranged clients. The second case involved the prostitution of children on the island of Sal. The government did not provide information regarding the status of these cases. It did not provide any specialized training for officials on the identification or prosecution of trafficking offenses. There were no reports of trafficking-related corruption during the year; corruption is generally not a significant issue in Cape Verde.


The government made modest efforts to protect trafficking victims. Although it did not report its identification or protection of trafficking victims, several government facilities that provide care to vulnerable children and victims of gender-based violence may have assisted trafficking victims during the year. Two ICCA-run centers for child emergencies in Praia and Mindelo afforded temporary care to child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment; children can remain in these centers for up to three months. The government maintained its five protection and social reinsertion centers on the islands of Sal, Sao Nicolau, Bao Vista, Fogo, and Santiago, which offered reintegration services to children experiencing long-term trauma. The ICCA continued its Nos kasa project that aims to reduce the vulnerability of street children to sexual abuse and child labor through the operation of six day centers on the islands of Santo Antao, Sao Vincente, Sao Nicolau, Fogo, Boa Vista, and Santiago, which host children during the day and provide counseling. There are also government-supported foster family and adoption programs for the care of children who cannot return to their families. The government lacked formal procedures for the identification and referral of trafficking victims. However, the ICCA’s network for the protection and prevention of sexual abuse of children and adolescents—comprised of the judicial police, the national police, the national prosecutor, the directorate general of tourism, and the Office of Health for Praia—coordinated the referral of child victims of sexual abuse to care and offered support throughout court processes. Disque Denuncia, the government’s hotline for reporting cases of child abuse, served as a referral system, coordinating efforts between the attorney general’s office, the judiciary police, the national police, hospitals, and Offices of Health and School. ICCA and UNICEF established a special unit in the judicial police to attend to child sex abuse victims; the unit is equipped with a video room that allows children to testify outside of court. Cape Verdean law does not provide for legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.


The government made modest efforts to prevent trafficking during the reporting period through efforts directed towards the elimination of child labor and protection of migrants. Nonetheless, it did not undertake any trafficking awareness campaigns. During the year, the government continued its drafting of a list of hazardous forms of work. In 2012, ICCA inaugurated its unit for prevention and elimination of child labor and worked with government and civil society partners to establish the National Committee for Eradication of Child Labor in Cape Verde. The government did not identify any child labor violations during the reporting period and did not remove any children from situations of child labor. In the previous reporting period, it developed a national immigration strategy to manage migration flows, regulate migrant access to the labor market, develop a model employment contract for immigrant workers, and lay groundwork to identify and address labor exploitation by strengthening the coordination between inspection divisions, labor unions, NGOs, and migrant associations. In 2012, the government, in partnership with international organizations and donors, held awareness events about this strategy and workshops for the National Immigration Council and Permanent Monitoring Group. The National Immigration Council is a committee comprised of 26 members from different stakeholder organizations responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the national immigration strategy. The Permanent Monitoring Group is an advisory group that supports the immigration coordination unit, established in February 2012, to ensure coordination on and compliance with national immigration policies as part of its larger efforts to improve conditions for migrants and facilitate their integration into Cape Verdean society. In December 2012, the Minister of Internal Affairs opened the first Immigration Support Office, based in the Santa Maria police precinct, which aims to serve and inform migrants living in the area. During the year, the Ministry of Internal Administration reported one pending prosecution of a child sex tourist. In 2012, the government did not make significant efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to address sex tourism.