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TITLE: CAPE VERDE HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE CAPE VERDE Following the free elections of 1991 and the constitutional revision of 1992, Cape Verde continued its efforts to strengthen democratic institutions in 1993. Dr. Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, an independent, remained as President, sharing constitutional powers with the Prime Minister, Dr. Carlos Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, and his party, the Movement for Democracy (MPD), which controlled the National Assembly. A new police force, which has been separated from the military, has primary responsibility for maintenance of law and order It is controlled by, and responsive to, civilian governmental authority. There were no reported human rights abuses by security forces. Cape Verde has few exploitable natural resources except for an attractive climate, a hardworking population (350,000), and a strategic geographic position. Cape Verdeans have a long history of economically driven emigration, primarily to Western Europe and the United States, and receipts from Cape Verdeans abroad are important sources of national income. Cape Verde can produce food for only 25 percent of its population, even in years of optimum rainfall. Because of this, the country continues to rely heavily on international food aid. The National Assembly has adopted legislation to privatize Cape Verde's state-owned enterprises and to facilitate foreign investment, but 1993 brought limited progress. The Constitution provides strong guarantees for human rights, and it includes the principles of separation of powers, a political system based on individual rights and liberties, and a market-based economy. Cape Verdeans enjoy a wide range of civil and political liberties. The principal human rights problems in 1993 were societal discrimination and domestic violence against women. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing There were no reported instances of political or other extrajudicial killings. b. Disappearance There were no reports of disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment There were no allegations or reported occurrences of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Cape Verdean law requires that the accused be brought before a judge to be charged within 24 hours of arrest. A person may not be arrested without a court order unless caught in the act of committing a felony. In exceptional cases, and with the concurrence of a court official, the formal charge process may be delayed up to 5 days after the arrest. These laws are observed in practice. For crimes against state security, the Ministry of Justice has 40 days to prepare the case for a trial, and the accused may be incarcerated until the trial or for a period not to exceed a year. There is a functioning system of bail. There were no known instances of security detentions or forced exile for political or other reasons. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The judicial system is composed of the Supreme Court and the regional courts. There are five Supreme Court judges, including one who is appointed by the President of the Republic, one appointed by the National Assembly, and three appointed by the High Council of Magistrates. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. Trials are public; they are conducted by one judge and without a jury. Evidence suggests that the courts protect individual rights in criminal cases. The autonomous Institute for Judicial Support, to which most private lawyers belong, provides free counsel for indigent defendants. The defense is permitted to present witnesses and has access to government evidence. Verdicts may be appealed. Regional courts adjudicate minor disputes on the local level in rural areas. The local judges, appointees of the Ministry of Justice and Labor, usually are prominent local citizens. As older judges retire, the Government appoints local judges with higher levels of education. Regional court decisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court. The Government did not take any new initiatives to relieve the overburdened judicial system, and the courts continued to experience a backlog of cases. The average time for a case to come to trial is in excess of 6 months. There were no known political prisoners. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The Constitution recognizes citizens' rights to the inviolability of domicile, correspondence, and other means of communication. These rights are respected. The law requires that warrants be issued by a judge before homes may be searched. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom of citizens to express ideas by words, images, or any other means and for freedom of the press without censorship. These freedoms are respected in practice. Journalists are independent of the Government and are not obliged to reveal their sources. No authorization is needed to establish newspapers, other publications, or electronic media. The government-owned newspaper, Novo Jornal de Cabo Verde, reopened in March as a biweekly after restructuring to cut costs. Together with the government-owned radio and television stations, the Jornal gave balanced coverage to domestic and international events and to opposition viewpoints. Independent newspapers also enjoyed full freedom of the press without censorship. The national radio station broadcasts live National Assembly sessions in their entirety. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and association without authorization and without harassment by authorities. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution requires the separation of church and state and prohibits the imposition of religious beliefs and practices. It provides for freedom to exercise individual or group religion and to express one's faith. About 80 to 90 percent of the population, including much of the Government leadership, is nominally Catholic. There are no restrictions on resident foreign clergy or on the numerous and diverse religious groups represented in Cape Verde. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation There are no extraordinary legal or administrative restrictions on travel or residence in Cape Verde. Historically, emigration has been an important and government-supported means to escape harsh economic conditions. The Government maintains an office to serve intending emigrants and maintains close contact with emigre communities. It also encourages Cape Verdeans living abroad, including dual nationals, to maintain ties with their homeland. Repatriation is a constitutional right and is not discouraged by the Government. Acquiring dual nationality, which is a right protected by the Constitution, is not a ground for revocation of citizenship. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens have this right. In January 1991, after 15 years of one-party rule, power was transferred peacefully through democratic elections to an opposition party which won the country's first free legislative and presidential elections. Promulgation of the new Constitution in 1992 consolidated this change. The Constitution provides for separation of powers. Government ministers are not required to be members of the National Assembly, but they are subject individually to parliamentary confirmation. Collectively, they must retain the support of a parliamentary majority. The Government may be dismissed by the President, with the approval of the Council of the Republic. This Council is composed of the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, the President of the Regional Affairs Council, and four private members. Two of the private members are appointed by the President, and two are appointed by the National Assembly. Referendums may be held under specified circumstances, but they may not challenge individual political rights and liberties or the right of opposition parties to exist and function freely. No referendums were held in 1993. There are no restrictions in law or practice regarding the rights of women or minorities to vote or to participate in the political process. Cape Verde's Parliament is 7.6 percent female; there are 2 female ministers out of 13 government ministers. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights While there are no official restrictions on their formation, to date no private groups have been established to monitor and report on human rights. In late 1991, the Government established a human rights commission with the objective of raising popular consciousness about human rights and the need to respect them at the institutional level. The commission was largely inactive in 1993. The Government cooperates fully with representatives of foreign private human rights organizations. Human rights organizations made no known visits to Cape Verde in 1993. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Racial discrimination is not a problem in Cape Verde where the vast majority of the population shares mixed Portuguese and African ancestry. Women Despite constitutional prohibitions against sex discrimination and provisions for full equality, including equal pay for equal work, traditional male-oriented values predominate; women experience difficulties in obtaining certain types of employment and are often paid less than men. Women comprise 38 percent of the work force, and make up more than 50 percent of the workers in business, hotels, restaurants, social services and administrative positions. Roughly the same percentages of males and females attend universities and secondary schools; 0.7 percent of women hold university degrees (compared with 0.8 percent for the total population) and 14.3 percent hold secondary school certificates (compared to 13.8 percent for the total population). There was some improvement in employment opportunities for women as evidenced by the increasing presence of women in the upper echelons of government and among law and medical professionals. Domestic violence against women, including wife beating, remains common, particularly in the rural areas. Crimes such as rape and spouse abuse are rarely brought to the attention of the police or tried in the courts. While neither the Government nor women's organizations have addressed directly the issue of violence against women, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs has undertaken to publicize civil and human rights of both women and children through an extensive campaign which includes public service programming on television and radio as well as a widespread poster campaign. Children Child abuse is a continuing problem in Cape Verde. The Government is concerned about children's welfare and has mounted a public relations campaign to educate both children and parents about the dangers of child abuse and the rights of individuals. Few cases are prosecuted, but, if a complaint is filed and found to warrant intervention, children can be removed from their parents' homes and placed in an orphanage. People with Disabilities Physically disabled persons are not subject to discrimination in employment or education, and a campaign is under way to educate the public about the capabilities of the disabled for employment. There is no government mandate for access to public buildings for the disabled, thereby limiting access to some public services, but the Government attempts to provide transportation (a combination wheelchair and three-wheel motor scooter) for handicapped persons. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association All workers are legally free to form and to join unions of their own choosing without government authorization or restriction. There are no reliable figures for union membership available. There are two umbrella union associations in Cape Verde: the Council of Free Labor Unions (CCLS), formed after the change in government, and the National Union of Cape Verde Workers (UNTC-CS), formed and controlled by the former ruling party. The Government did not interfere with the activities of these organizations, but both suffer from a lack of funding. The Constitution provides union members the right to strike, and there are no restrictions on this right. There were periodic strikes, most frequently in state-owned enterprises. An employer must reinstate a worker fired unjustly. Unions are free to affiliate internationally. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The Constitution provides to unions the right to organize and operate without hindrance and specifically gives unions the right to sign collective work contracts. Workers and management in the small private sector, as well as in the public sector, reach agreement through collective bargaining. As the country's largest employer, the Government continues to play the dominant role by setting wages in the civil service. It does not fix wages for the private sector, but salary levels for civil servants provide the basis for wage negotiations in the private sector. A legislative decree of November 1991 bans antiunion discrimination by employers and provides that fines may be levied on offenders. There were no reported cases of such discrimination in 1993. Cape Verde has no export processing zones. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Forced labor is forbidden by law and is not practiced. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The legal minimum age for employment is 14. Although children under 16 are prohibited from working at night, more than 7 hours per day, or in establishments where toxic products are produced, the law is rarely enforced. The Director General of Labor in the Ministry of Justice and Labor is responsible for enforcing minimum age laws. In practice, however, minimum age laws are enforced only in the mainly urban formal sectors of the economy and then only with limited success. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work There are no established minimum wage rates in the private sector. Large urban private employers link their minimum wage rates to those paid to civil servants, which for an entry level worker is $180 (15,000 Cape Verdean escudos) per month. The majority of jobs pay insufficient wages to provide a worker and his family a decent standard of living; therefore, most workers must rely on a combination which includes second jobs, extended family help, and subsistence agriculture. The maximum legal workweek for adults is 44 hours. While large employers generally respect these regulations, many employed in domestic service or by small employers in rural areas do not enjoy legally mandated work conditions. Rural laborers are largely uninformed of workers' rights, and these rights frequently are not respected. In 1992 the Director General of Labor established a small department in the Ministry of Justice and Labor dedicated to the protection of rural laborers. All enterprises must submit a yearly report to the Director General of Labor with information on each employee's wages and days of leave. Although the reports provide the Government with current information on employment practices, they are not used as a control mechanism. Nevertheless, the Director General does carry out periodic inspections to ensure that employers adhere to correct labor practices and imposes fines on private enterprises which are not in conformity with the law. There is no overall safety and health code, although some regulations exist in this area. The Director General of Labor is responsible for enforcing labor regulations. However, Cape Verde has few industries that employ heavy or dangerous equipment, and work related accidents are rare. Consequently, there is no systematic government enforcement of labor laws. (###)
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