CABO VERDE: Tier 2 Watch List

Cabo Verde is a source and destination country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking within the country and in Guinea and a destination country for women in forced prostitution. Boys and girls, some of whom may be foreign nationals, are exploited in sex trafficking in Santa Maria, Praia, and Mindelo. Sex tourism involving children subjected to prostitution also occurs. Children in domestic service often work long hours and at times experience physical and sexual abuse – indicators of forced labor. Cabo Verdean children engaged in begging, street vending, car washing, garbage picking, and agriculture are vulnerable to trafficking. Children living in impoverished neighborhoods with little state presence are also at risk, especially for sex trafficking. West African migrants may transit the archipelago en route to situations of exploitation in Europe. Adult migrants from China, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Nigeria, and other ECOWAS countries may receive low wages, work without contracts, and have irregular status, creating vulnerabilities to forced labor and sex trafficking. During the reporting period, Nigerian women were identified in sex trafficking on the island of Boa Vista. Cabo Verde's porous borders make it difficult to monitor the flow of people across the borders, rendering both legal and illegal immigrants vulnerable to trafficking.

The Government of Cabo Verde does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government conducted one investigation, identified its first two adult trafficking victims, and enacted amendments to its penal code that provide a legal framework to prosecute trafficking. Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Cabo Verde is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government did not prosecute or convict any traffickers, identify any child trafficking victims, or provide specialized services to victims, and it did not have a national committee or action plan to combat trafficking in persons.


Using the new penal code amendments, vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including child sex trafficking, and convict and punish traffickers; develop and institute standardized victim identification procedures – including for adults and victims among vulnerable populations – and provide specialized training to law enforcement and judicial personnel on such procedures; develop and institute a standardized victim referral mechanism to guide officials in referring identified trafficking victims to institutions that provide care; educate law enforcement that children exploited in prostitution is sex trafficking, and robustly investigate such cases, especially in high-tourist areas; provide training for law enforcement and judiciary officials on the anti-trafficking amendments; expand labor inspectors' mandates to include the regulation and inspection of workplaces in the informal sector, such as street vending, car washing, and agriculture; allocate funding for victim services – including for shelter and services for adults – to government agencies that provide care to trafficking victims; develop a system to compile comprehensive anti-trafficking law enforcement data; draft and implement a national action plan on trafficking in persons; designate a government entity specifically mandated to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts; and increase efforts to raise public awareness of human trafficking.


The government amended its criminal code to prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons but maintained minimal law enforcement efforts. Cabo Verde amended its penal code in November 2015 in a way that appears to prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons under article 271-A by penalizing the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of sexual or labor exploitation. Article 271-A prescribes penalties of four to 10 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. When the victim is a minor, an undefined term which elsewhere in the criminal code is defined at 16, the use of any means with those purposes is a trafficking offense and the penalty increases to six to 12 years' imprisonment. As the law does not define labor exploitation, it could be implemented such that labor exploitation short of forced labor would be considered human trafficking. In addition to article 271-A, article 148 of the criminal code outlaws the promotion, encouragement, or facilitation of prostitution and sexual acts with minors younger than 16 years of age or persons suffering from mental incapacity with penalties of four to 10 years' imprisonment, or two to six years' imprisonment if the victim is between ages 16 and 18. Article 149 of the penal code punishes those who entice, transport, host, or receive children younger than 16 years of age or promotes the conditions for sexual acts or prostitution in a foreign country with two to eight years' imprisonment; however this does not prohibit such acts with children 16-18 years of age, which is inconsistent with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. The Law of Foreigners prohibits knowingly subjecting an undocumented migrant worker to trafficking and prescribes penalties of two to six years' imprisonment. Article 271-A also prescribes penalties for those who have knowledge of trafficking crimes or use the services of trafficking victims (one to five years' imprisonment) and those who retain, conceal, damage, or destroy trafficking victims' identity documents (up to three years' imprisonment). Under the amended penal code, investigations into sex crimes involving children aged 14 and 15, including children exploited in prostitution, no longer require a complaint from a child's legal guardian.

The government did not provide comprehensive law enforcement data during the reporting period. It arrested and initiated an investigation of one alleged Nigerian sex trafficker involving two adult female victims from Nigeria; the investigation was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government did not report initiating any prosecutions, compared with one investigation and three prosecutions reported the previous reporting period, and did not convict a trafficker for the second consecutive year. Despite law enforcement and judges' lack of understanding of trafficking crimes – which hampered their ability to identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking cases – the government did not provide anti-trafficking training to such officials during the reporting period. Insufficient staffing and a lack of resources also hindered law enforcement efforts. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.


The government identified its first two adult trafficking victims but continued minimal efforts to protect victims. The government identified two adult female sex trafficking victims, compared with no victims identified in 2014 but a significant decrease from 17 child victims identified in 2013. It is unclear if the identified victims received any services, specialized care, or were repatriated during the reporting period. There were no shelters or services specifically for trafficking victims, but government-funded agencies could provide emergency services, temporary shelter, and psycho-social care to at-risk populations and female and child victims of crime, which trafficking victims could access. It is unknown if any trafficking victims benefited from these services during the reporting period. The government operated two shelters that provided temporary care for child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment, and maintained five protection and social reinsertion centers, which provided access to reintegration services for children experiencing long-term trauma, including trafficking. It is unclear whether any child trafficking victims received care in such facilities during the reporting period.

Border police have written procedures to guide in the proactive identification of trafficking victims and people vulnerable to trafficking, but these procedures were not fully implemented during the reporting period. The government did not have a formal mechanism to refer trafficking victims to care, but the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents continued to operate a national network to prevent and provide assistance to victims of child sexual abuse, which coordinated their referral to care and offered support throughout court processes. In practice, law enforcement officials would conduct sex trafficking victim interviews in collaboration with psychologists and the victims' parents, in cases of children, to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the victim. The government did not report collaborating with foreign governments on anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Cabo Verdean law does not provide for legal alternatives to the removal of foreign trafficking victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. There were no reports officials penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking.


The government sustained modest prevention efforts. There was no government entity specifically mandated to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and no national action plan to combat trafficking, which hampered the government's ability to address trafficking and coordinate prevention efforts. The national committees to prevent child sexual exploitation and to prevent and eliminate child labor continued awareness campaigns to address child labor and child sexual violence; it is unclear if these included information on human trafficking. The government approved a list of hazardous occupations and activities prohibited for children younger than 18 years to further protect children from harmful labor practices. Despite these measures, however, it did not identify any cases of forced child labor during the reporting period, and labor inspectors were not mandated to conduct inspections of workplaces in the informal sector, where Cabo Verdean children are vulnerable to forced labor. The government continued to operate six day centers through its Nos Kaza project, which aimed to reduce the vulnerability of street children to forced labor and sexual abuse, including child sex trafficking. It also continued to operate a hotline for reporting cases of child abuse, including sexual exploitation and child labor; the hotline did not receive any reports of trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. The government continued projects to address child sexual abuse, which included child sex trafficking. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.


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