The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see www.state.gov for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal

flag
bar

Title:  Cape Verde Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State 
Date:  March 1996 
 
 
 
 
                                  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 heavy reliance on international food aid. 
 
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and 
the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with instances 
of individual abuse.  However, societal discrimination and in particular 
domestic violence and discrimination against women continued to be 
serious problems.  The mistreatment of children remained a serious 
problem, exacerbated by a poor economic situation which placed stress on 
large families in securing food, water, and other necessities.  Although 
the Government supported legislation to ameliorate these problems, it 
failed to adopt, implement, and enforce policies designed to address the 
most critical challenges.  There were instances of media self-
censorship. 
 
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 politically motivated disappearances. 
 
  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The Constitution prohibits such practices, and there were no reports 
that officials employed them. 
 
  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 understaffing. 
 
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 reports of political prisoners. 
 
  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The Constitution prohibits such practices, and government authorities 
respect these prohibitions in practice. 
 
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.  
The Government generally respected these freedoms in practice.  
Nevertheless, there was increased criticism by independent political 
figures of the performance of the state-controlled television, radio, 
and print media for their failure to exercise vigorously their 
monitoring role in a multiparty system. 
 
Journalists are independent of the Government and are not required to 
reveal their sources.  However, self-censorship within government-
controlled media, including the national television and radio networks 
as well as the state-owned newspaper Novo Jornal, influences media 
criticism of the Government.  Journalists in government enterprises have 
also been demoted or dismissed allegedly for exceeding the bounds of 
accepted criticism.  In the case of opposition media, particularly 
newspapers, government officials have sought to use the country's strict 
libel laws to attack critics for perceived unjustified criticism. 
 
Independent journalists and their newspapers were, however, successful 
in the courts in defending their actions.  In one case, a court rejected 
the accusations of an influential government minister against the 
newspaper of the major opposition political party.  In a second legal 
proceeding involving an ex-director of the same newspaper, the 
individual was exonerated of two criminal complaints and found guilty of 
one charge.  The case is under appeal.  In two other cases challenging 
dismissals from employment with state-owned media companies, journalists 
were successful in gaining compensation against the national radio 
network and the predecessor to the government-controlled newspaper.  
Finally, the former president of the association of journalists 
instituted legal action to overturn his dismissal from his position.  
Several important cases are pending which, upon resolution, will have a 
significant impact on press freedom. 
 
Government authorization is not needed to establish newspapers, other 
printed publications, or electronic media.  Independent media outlets 
experienced no direct pressure in their daily operations or business 
activities.  For example, the Catholic radio station signed an agreement 
with the British Broadcasting Corporation to broadcast its Portuguese 
language newscast.  The national radio station broadcasts live National 
Assembly sessions and was harshly criticized for announcing that it was 
considering reducing such coverage.  Independent newspapers and 
electronic media, aside from the examples cited above, strongly and 
consistently criticize government policies and officials. 
 
  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.  Throughout the year, labor organizations, opposition 
political parties, civic action groups, and numerous others exercised 
this right without government interference or objection.  Opposition 
political parties routinely ignored the legal requirement that officials 
be advised before the holding of demonstrations and experienced no 
retaliatory or punitive measures from the Government. 
 
  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 
 
The law provides citizens with the right to travel and establish 
residence without government restrictions.  The Constitution provides 
for repatriation, and the Government respects this 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 critical second round of multiparty elections for the National 
Assembly was held in December, resulting in a resounding victory for the 
governing MPD party of Prime Minister Veiga.  Municipal and presidential 
elections were scheduled for January and February 1996, respectively.  
With its margin in victory the MPD could govern virtually without the 
need to consult the two opposition parties represented in the Assembly, 
should it elect to do so.  Observers saw the election results as a 
further repudiation of the discredited one-party government set up after 
independence from Portugal in 1975, which had clung to power until the 
first free, fair elections in 1991. 
 
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. 
 
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 comprise 7.6 percent of the deputies elected to the National 
Assembly.  The two female ministers in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister 
represent 13 percent of the ministerial positions. 
 
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 the year.   
 
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.  However, the Government does 
not effectively enforce all its provisions, resulting in ongoing 
discrimination, particularly against women and children. 
 
  Women 
 
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.   
 
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, discrimination 
continues.  Women experience difficulties in obtaining certain types of 
employment.  Although they are often paid less than men, they 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 52.7 percent of the general population, but only 36.8 
percent of the employed work force.  Among those considered unemployed 
within the labor pool actively seeking employment, government figures 
indicate that women make up 54.7 percent of those out of compensated 
employment.  Despite these dire statistics, employment opportunities for 
women are improving, as evidenced by the increasing presence of women in 
the upper echelons of government and among the legal and medical 
professions. 
 
With the impetus gained from the preparatory work for the United Nations 
Fourth World Conference on Women, women's organizations launched new 
efforts to improve the plight of poor and economically disadvantaged 
women, holding several symposiums and conferences.  They demanded new 
laws protecting women against violence and abuse and the enforcement of 
constitutional provisions establishing equal rights.  In March a group 
of women incorporated the Cape Verdean Association for the Protection of 
the Family, whose stated goals were the promotion of the rights of the 
family, protection of the mother and child, women's health care 
(including the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases), and the 
promotion of family planning.  According to women's groups, large, 
unplanned families represent the main cause of poverty and lack of job 
opportunity for women. 
 
  Children 
 
Child abuse is a continuing problem.  Although the Government may remove 
children from abusive parents and place them in orphanages, it seldom 
took such actions.  The Government maintained its effort to highlight 
the costs to society of such mistreatment and to promote the legal 
protection of abused minors.  The government-controlled newspaper 
published a multipage expose on the plight of abandoned children left to 
roam the streets, noting that such situations lead to violent abuse of 
children, crime, and prostitution.  Local experts, mental health 
professionals, and social workers have called on government officials 
and the larger population to reject an indifferent attitude and strive 
to reduce and eliminate the problem.  In conjunction with the United 
Nations Children's Fund, the Cape Verdean Institute for Minors published 
the book "Legal Protection of Children" as a working document for 
government officials and others, setting out the laws and  
 
rights pertaining to the protection of minors and the social and 
governmental institutions with responsibility for enforcing those 
rights. 
 
As a result of the devastating effects of the cholera epidemic, the 
Government focused more attention on preventive treatment, especially 
regarding the health care of children.  It instituted a broad based 
immunization campaign for young children.  Throughout the year the 
official media broadcast and diffused public service messages imploring 
mothers to seek prenatal care for their babies. 
 
  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, 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 respects this right.  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 years.  The law prohibits 
children under the age 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 wages 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 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.  However, 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.   
 
(###)


[end of document]

flag
bar

Department Seal

Return to 1995 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.