Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Cape Verde

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 10 September 2009
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2008 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Cape Verde, 10 September 2009, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Selected Statistics and Indicators on Child Labor
Population, children 10-14 years, 2001-2002:142,407
Working children, 10-14 years (%), 2001-2002:3.2
Working boys, 10-14 years (%), 2001-2002:3.8
Working girls, 10-14 years (%), 2001-2002:2.6
Working children by sector, 10-14 years (%), 2001-2002:
     – Agriculture79.2
     – Manufacturing1.0
     – Services13.7
     – Other6.2
Minimum age for work:15
Compulsory education age:11
Free public education:Yes
Gross primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:101.5
Net primary enrollment rate (%), 2007:84.5
School attendance, children 5-14 years (%), 2001-2002:90.1
Survival rate to grade 5 (%), 2006:92.2
ILO Convention 138:No
ILO Convention 182:10/23/2001
ILO-IPEC participating country:No

* Accession

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

In Cape Verde, children work – mostly in the informal sector – in agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishing. They also work as street vendors and car washers and assist in family businesses. Reports indicate that some children are exploited in prostitution, including on the island of Sal. There have been reports of child sex tourism in tourist areas. In addition, a 2007 Government-sponsored study found that children in Cape Verde are used by adults in the sale of illicit substances.

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The law sets the minimum age for employment at 15 years; children that are at least 14 years of age may enter into apprentice contracts. Only businesses that have not been convicted of specific child labor violations may take on an apprentice, unless pardoned by the Director-General for Labor. The law allows children below the minimum age to engage in work in the arts as well as in light domestic, agricultural, and other activities if it contributes to their moral and physical development.

The law prohibits children from working in activities that do not conform to their physical or intellectual ability. Children under 16 years are prohibited from entering into maritime contracts. Employment contracts entered into by children under 18 years can be invalidated at the request of the parents or legal representatives. Normal working hours for youths under 18 years may not exceed 38 hours per week and 7 hours per day, and minors are entitled to a period of 12 hours of uninterrupted rest daily. Minors between 16 and 18 years may work overtime; however, such overtime may not exceed 2 hours daily and 30 hours annually. In addition, youths under 18 years are not permitted to work at night unless it is essential to their professional development and authorized by the Director-General for Labor.

The law specifies that parents who exploit their children for labor or abuse the dependence of a minor are subject to a fine equivalent to a year's salary of an adult worker. The legal remedies for violating child labor laws also include compensation for victims and criminal penalties from 9 to 19 years of imprisonment if the victim is under 14 years and 2 to 8 years if the victim is 14 to 16 years.

The Ministries of Justice and Labor, specifically the offices of the Inspector General for Labor, are responsible for enforcing child labor laws; however, according to USDOS, such laws are seldom enforced.

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor. The compulsory recruitment age for military service is 18 years, but volunteers may be 17 years. The trafficking of children under 18 years is illegal. Penalties for trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation consist of 12 to 16 years in prison, while penalties for trafficking for forced labor consist of 6 to 12 years in prison. The Government monitors potential trafficking cases; however, efforts are hindered by inadequate funding for police and responsible government agencies, which include the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs and the Judiciary Police. The law prohibits the facilitation and procurement of children under 16 years for the purpose of prostitution, a crime that is punishable by 2 to 8 years of imprisonment for cases involving children under 14 years, and by 1 to 5 years of imprisonment for those involving children 14 to 16 years. However, according to USDOS, laws against prostitution are often not enforced. Criminal penalties are generally increased in cases for crimes against minors.

Cape Verde was 1 of 24 countries to adopt the Multilateral Cooperative Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons and the Joint Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, in West and Central African Regions. As part of the regional Multilateral Cooperation Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Government agreed to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenders; to rehabilitate and reintegrate trafficking victims; and to assist fellow signatory countries to implement these measures under the Agreement.

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Cape Verde continued to participate in a 2-year project, Combating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Lusophone Countries in Africa, funded by the Government of Brazil and implemented by ILO in Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique.

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