Cape Verde Law Firm | Carla Monteiro & Associados - Human Trafficking in Cape Verde

Carla Monteiro

Wednesday, 02 Aug 2023

Human Trafficking in Cape Verde

Human Trafficking in Cape Verde

Human trafficking is a reality that translates into one of the most serious forms of violation of human rights, it is a complex phenomenon that occurs, mostly, clandestinely and, sometimes, extends through the jurisdictions of several States, which makes their identification and law enforcement difficult.

Despite being comprehensive, it affects specific social groups that are more vulnerable and therefore become victims, as is the case of children and women.

Cape Verde is not immune to human trafficking, due to its location, situated 570km off the west coast of Africa and occupying a geostrategic position in a triangle between the African, American and European continents, it easily attracts the interest of active organized crime groups on those continents that see Cape Verde as a convenient transit point.

In Cape Verde there are situations that may constitute trafficking, namely sex tourism and prostitution, especially in the tourist islands Sal, Boavista and São Vicente, in addition to potential cases of sexual exploitation, cases of possible forced drug trafficking have been identified, in most cases, the mules intercepted/companies have been young Cape Verdean and Brazilian women.

Some cases of missing children have also put the authorities on alert and more vigilant, however it is difficult to determine whether these cases were cases of trafficking in persons or other offences such as illegal adoption, pimping, etc, since before 2015, there was an absence of legal framework, so many cases were not identified.

In order to better identify cases of trafficking in persons, it is recommended to raise awareness of this phenomenon, also so that prevention, protection of victims and prosecution of the crime can be carried out.

The Penal Code, approved by Legislative Decree No. 4/2003 of 18 November, did not typify trafficking in persons as a crime, so until its amendment in 2015 this conduct was not foreseen or punished in our legal system.

However, incrimination was suggested by international conventions such as the Merida Convention (Articles 15, 16, 17 and 19) and the Palermo Convention (Articles 8 and 10) and its Protocols (Additional Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Additional Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants).

Thus, with the amendment of the penal code in 2015, HUMAN TRAFFICKING was typified in its article 271 – A “Whoever offers, delivers, entices, accepts, transports, lodges or receives a person for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation or organ extraction … shall be punished with a penalty of 4 to 10 years in prison”.

Cape Verde Law Firm | Carla Monteiro & Associados - Human Trafficking in Cape Verde

From this concept it can be said that Human Trafficking is divided into 3 categories/types:

  • Trafficking for sexual exploitation.
  • Trafficking for labour exploitation.
  • Trafficking for organ harvesting.

Currently, the Penal Code linked to thismatter, provides for offences such as:

– Trafficking in human organs (Art. 131b) with a penalty of 4 to 10 years imprisonment;

– Lenocinium (art. 148) with a penalty of 6 to 10 years imprisonment;

– Enticement of a minor to perform a sexual act or prostitution abroad (Art. 149) with a penalty of 6 to 12 years imprisonment;

Law no. 66/VIII/2014 of 17 July, which provides for the Legal Regime for Entry, Exit and Expulsion of Foreigners from National Territory, provides for residence permits in special situations, to persons who have benefited from a residence permit granted to victims of human trafficking.

Cape Verde is aligned with International Policies, having joined the Merida Convention, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which complements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, commonly known as the Palermo Convention and, since 2017, the Blue Heart Campaign carried out in partnership with ONUDC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).

We also had the first National Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons between 2018 and 2021.

In the fight against this scourge, the Government of Cape Verde through the Ministry of Justice has also relied on entities linked to the fight against Human Trafficking, namely the UNODC and the US Embassy.

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