The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, and increased reporting on such efforts. Although it did not provide statistics on the number of trafficking victims identified and referred to care, the government identified at least five sex trafficking victims in the course of human trafficking investigations. This was similar to six sex trafficking victims identified in the previous reporting period, and an increase in referrals to care. The government did not have formal procedures for law enforcement or social workers to identify trafficking victims, nor did it have a formal mechanism to refer trafficking victims to care, but the new national action plan called for the MJT to coordinate all victim care. The government conducted several ad hoc trainings on these topics for law enforcement and social services personnel. Border police had written procedures to identify trafficking victims and people vulnerable to trafficking, although they did not receive training on such procedures. With an NGO, the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA) trained NGOs, civil society leaders, judges, and police on Sal and Boa Vista islands to identify and refer trafficking victims to care; however, many authorities remained unable to differentiate sex trafficking from sexual abuse and negligence, which resulted in incomplete data on trafficking victims identified.
An international organization trained government officials and NGOs on three islands on how to create protection plans for child victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including sex trafficking, and such plans included referral procedures. There were no shelters or services specifically for trafficking victims, but government-funded agencies provided emergency services, temporary shelter, and psycho-social care to at-risk populations and female and child victims of crime that trafficking victims could access. ICCA operated a national network to assist child victims of sexual abuse, which could coordinate referral to care and support throughout court processes. Law enforcement and first responders generally referred all victims to either ICCA (for child victims), the Public Ministry (for victims requiring long-term care), or MJT, who then referred child victims of any crime to ICCA and women to the Cabo Verdean Institute for Gender Equality (ICIEG) or an NGO. The government acknowledged the ad hoc, informal referral system was insufficient. ICCA did not report screening for trafficking among victims referred to its shelters. ICCA operated two shelters that provided temporary shelter and care for child victims of sexual abuse, violence, and abandonment, and maintained five protection and social reinsertion centers, which provided services for children experiencing long-term trauma, including trafficking. ICCA had six primary shelters on two of Cabo Verde’s nine inhabited islands and staff on all nine islands. During the reporting period, ICIEG opened its first shelter in Cabo Verde for victims of domestic violence, which trafficking victims could access. The government-funded, and police provided security for, ICCA and ICIEG shelters. Law enforcement referred at least four child sex trafficking victims to ICCA for care. The government did not provide psycho-social services to foreign trafficking victims before repatriation, and it did not report if it assisted six trafficking victims identified in the previous reporting period who remained in the country.
Law enforcement could conduct sex trafficking victim interviews in collaboration with psychologists and, in cases of children, the victims’ parents, to provide a comfortable and safe environment. The government did not report if it provided these benefits to any victims during the reporting period. Cabo Verdean law does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution; however, it could grant temporary residence and visas to trafficking victims on an ad hoc basis, and authorities provided these benefits to at least two sex trafficking victims from Senegal and Nigeria during the reporting period. The law did not provide for restitution or allow victims to file civil suits against traffickers. The 2011 law against sexual and gender-based violence provided a limited stipend for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including sex trafficking victims, who faced life-threatening situations, although the government did not report providing this funding to any victims during the reporting period. There were no reports officials fined, detained, or penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; due to the lack of formal victim identification procedures, however, some victims may have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.