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TITLE: CAPE VERDE HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DATE: FEBRUARY 1995 CAPE VERDE Cape Verde is a parliamentary democracy in which constitutional powers are shared between President Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, an independent, and Prime Minister Carlos Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, and his party, the Movement for Democracy (MPD). The MPD dominates the National Assembly in which only two of the four official political parties are represented. The Government controls the police, which have primary responsibility for maintenance of law and order. There were no reported human rights abuses committed by security forces. Cape Verde has a market-based economy but little industry and few exploitable natural resources. The country has a long history of economically driven emigration, primarily to Western Europe and the United States, and receipts from Cape Verdeans abroad remain an important source of national income. Even in years of optimum rainfall, the country can produce food for only 25 percent of the population, resulting in a heavy reliance on international food aid. The principal human rights problems in 1994 continued to be societal discrimination, domestic violence against women, and child abuse. The easing of political tensions has allowed authorities to begin bringing criminals to justice without fear of accusations of political motive. Individuals of all ethnic origin who had used political conflict as cover are now visibly pursued and arrested for violations of the law. 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 reports 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 reports of these abuses. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile The law stipulates that authorities bring charges before a judge within 24 hours of arrest. Police may not make arrests without a court order unless a person is caught in the act of committing a felony. In exceptional cases, and with the concurrence of a court official, authorities may detain persons without charge for up to 5 days. These laws are observed in practice. The Ministry of Justice has 40 days to prepare for trial in state security cases, and may detain persons until trial or for a period not to exceed 1 year. There is a functioning system of bail. There were no reports of security detentions or forced exile. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial. A judiciary independent of the executive branch generally provides due process rights, but there are serious delays owing to an understaffed judiciary (see below). The judicial system is composed of the Supreme Court and the regional courts. There are five Supreme Court judges, including one appointed by the President, one appointed by the National Assembly, and three appointed by the High Council of Magistrates. Judges are independent and may not belong to a political party. Defendants are presumed to be innocent; have the right to public, nonjury trial; to counsel; to present witnesses; and to appeal verdicts. Free counsel is provided for the indigent. Regional courts adjudicate minor disputes on the local level in rural areas. The Ministry of Justice and Labor appoints local judges, who are usually prominent local citizens. Defendants may appeal regional court decisions to the Supreme Court. The right to an expeditious trial is constrained by a seriously overburdened judicial system. A backlog of cases routinely leads to trial delays of 6 months. There were no political prisoners. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The Constitution provides for the inviolability of domicile, correspondence, and other means of communication, and the Government respects these rights in practice. The law requires a judicial warrant before homes may be searched. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press The Constitution provides for freedom to express ideas by words, images, or any other means, and for freedom of the press without censorship. These freedoms are generally respected in practice. Journalists are independent of the Government and are not required to reveal their sources. However, self-censorship limits media criticism of the Government. Government officials use Cape Verde's strict libel laws to intimidate critics, as in a successful case against the government-owned Novo Jornal de Cabo Verde and in several pending cases against the independent A Semana. The Government may also demote or dismiss journalists in government enterprises who exceed the preferred limits of criticism. Government authorization is not needed to establish newspapers, other publications, or electronic media. There are independent, governmental and opposition media. The national radio station broadcasts live National Assembly sessions in their entirety. Independent newspapers also enjoy freedom of the press. In 1994 a bimonthly paper, Correio Quinze, was founded by supporters of a newly formed opposition group. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Constitution provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and association without authorization and without harassment by the authorities. Various groups exercised this right without government interference or objection. However, in April, a demonstration by high school students in Praia turned violent when squatters and other homeless persons who had been forced from illegally constructed housing joined the protest and injured two government employees while throwing stones and attacking buses and cars. The Government does not require permits for demonstrations. However, organizers must inform the authorities that a demonstration is planned. c. Freedom of Religion The Constitution provides for the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. It also prohibits the State from imposing religious beliefs and practices. The Government respects these rights in practice. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation Citizens are free to travel and establish residence without government restrictions. The Constitution provides for repatriation, and the Government allows it in practice. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens exercised this right in 1991, after 15 years of one-party rule. An opposition party won the country's first free legislative and presidential elections and peacefully assumed power. Promulgation of the new Constitution in 1992 consolidated this change. The Constitution provides for separation of powers. Cabinet ministers are not required to be members of the National Assembly, but they are individually subject to parliamentary confirmation. Collectively, they must retain the support of a parliamentary majority. The President may dismiss the Government with the approval of the Council of the Republic, which 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. Referendums may be held under specified circumstances but may not challenge individual political rights and liberties or the right of opposition parties to exist and function freely. No referendums were held in 1994. There are no restrictions in law or practice regarding the rights of women or minorities to vote or to participate in the political process. Women hold 7.6 percent of the seats in Parliament and 2 of 13 cabinet ministers are women. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights There are two private human rights groups in Cape Verde--the National Commission of the Rights of Man and the Cape Verdean League for Human Rights. No major human rights organizations conducted investigations in Cape Verde during 1994. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, disability, language, or social status. Women Women continue to face discrimination in several ways. 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 but are making modest inroads in the professions. The Constitution prohibits discrimination against women in inheritance, family and custody matters. However, largely because of illiteracy, most women are unaware of their rights. Women are often reluctant to seek redress of domestic disputes in the courts. The Organization of Cape Verdean Women alleges disparate treatment in inheritance matters despite laws calling for equal rights. Women comprise 38 percent of the work force, but make up more than half the workers in service and administrative positions. Employment opportunities for women have improved, 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 rural areas. Victims rarely report crimes such as rape and spousal abuse to the police. Neither the Government nor women's organizations have addressed directly the issue of violence against women. Children Child abuse is a continuing problem. The Government mounted a public relations campaign to educate the public about the dangers of child abuse and the rights of children. The Government may remove children from their parents' homes and place them in an orphanage, if warranted. However, few cases of child abuse are prosecuted. People with Disabilities The Government does not mandate access to public buildings or services for the disabled. It does provide transportation (a combination wheelchair and three-wheel motor scooter) for handicapped persons. Physically disabled persons are not subject to discrimination in employment or education. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association Workers are legally free to form and to join unions without government authorization or restriction. There are two umbrella union associations: the Council of Free Labor Unions, formed after the change in government and composed of 11 unions with about 7,000 members, and the National Union of Cape Verde Workers, formed by the former ruling party but operating independently in 1994, composed of 13 unions with about 15,000 members. The Government does not interfere with the activities of these organizations, but both suffer from a shortage of funds. The Constitution provides union members with the right to strike, and the Government does not restrict this right. There were periodic strikes throughout 1994. By law, an employer must reinstate a worker fired unjustly. Unions are free to affiliate internationally and have ties with African and international trade union organizations. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The Constitution provides for the right to organize and operate without hindrance and 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 1991 legislative decree bans antiunion discrimination by employers, with fines for offenders. There were no reported cases of such discrimination. There are 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. The law prohibits children under 16 from working at night, more than 7 hours per day, or in establishments where toxic products are produced, but the Government rarely enforces the law. In practice, the Ministry of Justice and Labor enforces minimum age laws with limited success, and only in the urban, formal sectors of the economy. 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 escudos) per month. The majority of jobs pay wages insufficient to provide a worker and his family a decent standard of living; therefore, most workers also rely on 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 domestic servants and rural workers work longer hours. The Director General of Labor conducts periodic inspections to enforce proper labor practices and imposes fines on private enterprises which are not in conformity with the law, but the Government does not systematically enforce labor laws and much of the labor force does not enjoy their protection. There are few industries that employ heavy or dangerous equipment, and work-related accidents are rare. (###)
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