Children and Adolescents in Danger and the Promotion and Protection of Their Rights
Cape Verde has made efforts over the years to promote and protect the rights of children and adolescents. The existence of legal and institutional reforms in this regard is essential to ensure adequate protection and promote the integral development of children and adolescents, who are the future of Cape Verdean society and the world.
By recognizing and establishing, through the main law – Constitution of the Republic of Cape Verde, in articles 74 and 75, the rights of children and young people to stimulation, support and special protection of the family, society and public authorities, the country demonstrates commitment to the rule of law and the guarantee of fundamental rights for all children and young people.
Adherence to International Conventions such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child is also an important step towards bringing child protection policies and practices in line with international standards.
With the entry into force of Law n.º 19/X/2023, of January 31, 2023, which stipulates the general legal regime for the protection of children and adolescents in situations of danger, who reside or are in national territory, the country further strengthens its protective measures and promotes the safety and well-being of these vulnerable groups.
It is essential that society and public and private bodies continue to work together to implement and guarantee the effectiveness of these laws and policies, thus ensuring full respect and fulfillment of the rights of children and adolescents in Cape Verde.
Some important aspects provided for in the aforementioned legal diploma:
The present law defines two categories of protection institutions: the judiciary institutions, the courts, as bodies responsible for applying the law and judging cases related to children and adolescents in danger; the Public Ministry, as responsible for representing the public interest in legal proceedings and ensuring that the rights of children and adolescents are protected; and finally the Criminal Police Bodies, being the bodies in charge of conducting criminal investigations and ensuring the application of the law in cases of violence or abuse against children and adolescents.
Non-judiciary Institutions, as entities responsible for the protection of children and adolescents in danger, such as, for example, Educational Establishments for Children and Adolescents, which may include schools, day care centers and other educational entities; State Central Service responsible for Prison Services, Socio-Educational Centers and Social Reinsertion; National public body responsible for the Coordination of Combating Alcohol and Other Drugs in the performance of its role of prevention and treatment of abuse of alcohol and other drugs among children and adolescents.
This law establishes general guiding principles that guide the intervention of these institutions for the protection and promotion of children and adolescents. Among them, the principle of mandatory hearing and participation of children and adolescents stands out; the principle of the best interests of the child and adolescent, which must be considered as the main concern in any decision to be taken.
The diploma also specifies the special rights that are guaranteed to children and adolescents in a situation of danger, among other rights, Have timely access to justice and effective judicial protection of their rights, receive priority assistance in any public or private institution , without any kind of discrimination.
These rights can be essential to protect them and help them overcome their difficulties.
This law also provides for measures that aim to promote the rights and protect children and adolescents in danger. This includes awareness and prevention measures, assistance and special measures designed to ensure their protection and well-being.
The first priority is to ensure that the child and/or adolescent is removed from situations of imminent danger. That is, moving away from abusive or harmful environments, such as dysfunctional homes, environments of violence or exploitation.
If the child or adolescent has been the victim of mistreatment, exploitation or abuse, it is essential to ensure that they receive adequate assistance for their physical and emotional recovery, which may include medical care, psychological support and therapy to help them overcome the suffered traumas.
Promotion and protection measures aim to create a safe and conducive environment for the healthy development of children and/or adolescents, which includes ensuring access to education, health care, adequate food and decent living conditions.
Likewise, the diploma regulates communication by anyone who is aware of dangerous situations involving a child or adolescent. As well as, it describes the urgent procedures that must be adopted by the responsible institutions when there is a current or imminent danger to the life or physical integrity of minors.
This legislation is an important milestone in the protection of the rights of children and adolescents in Cape Verde and reinforces the country’s commitment to guarantee a safe and healthy environment for their integral development. It is essential that Cape Verdean society, public and private entities, are aware of these measures and cooperate with each other for their effective implementation.