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Cabo Verde

2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Minimal Advancement

In 2013, Cabo Verde made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Government established the National Committee to Combat and Eradicate Child Labor in Cabo Verde (CDNPETI). Cabo Verde continued to participate in national and regional projects to combat child labor and enhance services to victims. However, children continue to engage in child labor in street work and domestic service. Cabo Verde continues to have gaps in its laws protecting children from child labor and its worst forms; it requires compulsory education only to the age of 14 and lacks a list of hazardous occupations for children and protections against the commercial sexual exploitation of children above the age of 13.

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I. Prevalence and Sectoral Distribution of Child Labor

Children in Cabo Verde are engaged in child labor in street work and domestic service.(1, 2) Table 1 provides key indicators on children's work and education in Cabo Verde.

Table 1. Statistics on Children's Work and Education
Working children, ages 10 to 14 (% and population): 3.2 (2,392)
Working children by sector, ages 10 to 14 (%)  
Agriculture 79.2
Industry 7.2
Services 13.7
School attendance, ages 5 to 14 (%): 90.1
Children combining work and school, ages 10 to 14 (%): 1.7
Primary completion rate (%): 99.0

Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2012, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014. (3)
Source for all other data: Understanding Children's Work Project's analysis of statistics from Inquérito as Despesas e Receitas Familiares Survey, 2001 - 2002. (4)
Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.

Table 2. Overview of Children's Work by Sector and Activity
Sector/Industry Activity
Agriculture Activities unknown and raising livestock* (5, 6)
Fishing,* activities unknown (2, 7, 8)
Industry Construction, carpentry (5, 7)
Handicraft production* (5)
Services Domestic service and street work, including car washing (1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10)
Garbage scavenging (2, 5, 7, 8)
Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡ Commercial sexual exploitation sometimes as a result of human trafficking (1, 2)
Illicit activities (1, 2, 11)

*Evidence of this activity is limited and/or the extent of the problem is unknown.
‡Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a) - (c) of ILO C. 182.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a problem in Cabo Verde, including exploitation in the tourism industry.(1, 2) There is evidence that children are victims of prostitution in Santa Maria, Praia, and Mindelo.(1)

Children typically engage in street work in Cabo Verde's urban centers.(2, 7, 8, 11) The majority of children begin working on the streets when they are under age 15.(12) With the exception of car washing, specific activities related to children's work on the streets are unknown.(2, 5, 7, 8,10, 11)

Children from Cabo Verde are at risk of becoming victims of trafficking by being forced to transport drugs to Brazil and Portugal.(1)



II. Legal Framework for the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Cabo Verde has ratified all key international conventions on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 3).

Table 3. Ratification of International Conventions on Child Labor
Convention Ratification
ILO C. 138, Minimum Age
ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor
UN CRC
UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict
UN CRC Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography
Palermo Protocol on Trafficking in Persons

The Government has established relevant laws and regulations related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 4).

Table 4. Laws and Regulations Related to Child Labor
Standard Yes/No Age Related Legislation
Minimum Age for Work Yes 15 Section 261 of Labor Code (13, 14)
Minimum Age for Hazardous Work Yes 18 Article 264 of the Boletim Oficial Suplemento (5, 13)
List of Hazardous Occupations Prohibited for Children No    
Prohibition of Forced Labor Yes   Article 14 of the Boletim Oficial Suplemento (13)
Prohibition of Child Trafficking Yes   Labor Code; Article 149 of Penal Code (5, 13, 15)
Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Yes   Articles 148, 149, 150 of Penal Code (15)
Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities Yes   Law on Drugs Act No. 78/IV/93 of 1993 (8, 12)
Minimum Age for Compulsory Military Recruitment Yes 17 Legislative Decree 06 (16)
Minimum Age for Voluntary Military Service Yes 17 Legislative Decree 06 (16)
Compulsory Education Age Yes 11 Section 20 of Education Law of 2010 (2, 14, 17)
Free Public Education Yes   Section 20 of Education Law of 2010 (2, 14, 17)

*No conscription or no standing military.

The Labor Code only applies to employment relationships with private, cooperative, and mixed enterprises and, in certain instances, public entities. Therefore, children working outside of an employment contract do not have the same protections under child labor laws and regulations as children working in the formal sector.(12)

In 2012, the Government developed an agreement with the Government of Brazil to receive technical assistance to develop a list of hazardous occupations prohibited for children under age 18.(18) The Government of Cabo Verde, however, has not yet established a hazardous list.(5, 12, 13)

Children age 17 can also be conscripted into the military during times of conflict.(16, 19) This provision conflicts with ILO Convention 182, which considers compulsory recruitment of children into armed conflict a worst form of child labor.

The Penal Code bans the use of minors under 16 for prostitution and sexual exploitation and children under 14 for sex shows and pornography.(15) The Penal Code does not extend these protections to all children under 18, leaving children ages 14-17 vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation.

By law, children are required to attend school only until age 11, leaving children ages 11 to 15 particularly vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor, as they are not required to be in school and are not legally permitted to work.(2)



III. Enforcement of Laws on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor, including its worst forms (Table 5).

Table 5. Agencies Responsible for Child Labor Law Enforcement
Organization/Agency Role
General Inspector for Labor (IGT) Enforce child labor, working closely with the police, Office of the Attorney General, and the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICAA). (5, 12)
Ministry of Justice, leading the Ministry of Internal Administration, the Judicial Police (PJ), and the National Police (PN) Combat human trafficking and prosecute criminal violations of child labor laws.(20)
ICCA and the National Committee for Child Labor Combat and Eradication in Cabo Verde (CDNPCTI) Enforce the laws related to worst forms of child labor. CDNPCTI supervised by ICCA, in collaboration with other institutions, which all meet four times a year to discuss implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of CDNPCTI's objectives.(5)

Law enforcement agencies in Cabo Verde took actions to combat child labor, including its worst forms.

Labor Law Enforcement

In 2013, 1,701 inspections were carried out in all formal sectors of the economy, including in places where children may work. Inspectors only found hazardous child labor, but no information is available on how many cases were found. It is unclear how hazardous labor was identified in these cases, since there is no hazardous labor list.(5) No penalties or citations for child labor violations were issued.(5)

According to the IGT, inspectors have sufficient resources to carry out inspections in the formal sector in São Vicente, Santiago, and Sal. Inspections do not take place outside the areas mentioned or anywhere in the informal sector due to budget restrictions.(5, 12)

Criminal Law Enforcement

According to the most recently available information, the PJ employs about 150 officers, and the PN employs about 1,500 officers.(17) The PJ reported investigating two cases of human trafficking for sexual exploitation of children in the city of Praia on the island of Santiago. In the two cases, police identified 17 child victims of sex trafficking. Four individuals were arrested and remained in custody at the end of the reporting period.(17) In April 2013, government prosecutions resulted in convictions of three men involved in the sexual abuse and sex trafficking of six boys in Praia. One foreign national offender was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment; two Cabo Verdean offenders, who were sentenced to 4 years and 6 months' and 4 years and 8 months' imprisonment, have appealed their sentence.(21)



IV. Coordination of Government Efforts on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor, including its worst forms (Table 6).

Table 6. Mechanisms to Coordinate Government Efforts on Child Labor
Coordinating Body Role & Description
CDNPETI Coordinate the execution of the National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Child Labor (NPAECL), ensuring that national laws comply with international conventions on child labor, and producing yearly reports on child labor issues for the National Assembly. Committee established in February 2013.(8, 22)
National Unit for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor Coordinate and monitor the implementation of all national programs and activities to prevent and eradicate child labor. Participate in CDNPETI meetings to coordinate collective efforts to address child labor. Provide direct services to those affected by child labor.(8, 22)
Municipal Committees for the Defense of Rights of Children and Adolescents (CMDDCA) Assist and monitor vulnerable children and their families.(10) Seventeen CMDDCAs operating under municipal jurisdiction; includes representatives from the Ministry of Education and Sports, municipalities, health departments, the PN, courts, and other offices.(10)


V. Government Policies on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Cabo Verde has established policies related to child labor, including its worst forms (Table 7).

Table 7. Policies Related to Child Labor
Policy Description
NPAECL Prioritizes the eradication of the worst forms of child labor. Outlines specific objectives, including data collection, institutional capacity-building, and enhancement of measures to prevent, protect, and remove children from involvement in child labor.(10) Aims to engage multiple stakeholders, such as government agencies, workers' organizations, and child workers and their families, in the efforts to achieve these goals.(10) The Government is currently working to update the NPAECL.(22)
Regional Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labor Aims to eliminate the worst forms of child labor in West Africa by 2015.(23, 24)
Strategic Education Plan for 2003­-2013 Outlines educational priorities to prevent and reduce child labor. Includes objectives such as strengthening mechanisms to monitor school dropouts, promoting non-formal and vocational training, and increasing financial assistance for low-income families to increase their access to education.(12)
Strategic Plan for the implementation of the National Policy for Children and Adolescents* Aims to increase coordination among agencies serving children and youth, including the abandoned and vulnerable. Includes plans to establish a standing committee to oversee its implementation and foster collaboration among public bodies.(25, 26)
Poverty Reduction and Growth Plan (DCRP) (2012-2016)* Targets the elimination of child labor through strategies to reduce poverty, foster economic development, and bolster education.(8, 27) During the reporting period, the Government continued to incorporate child labor issues in the DCRP.(5)
National Action Plan for Human and Citizenship Rights* Targets human rights violations, including those impacting children and adolescents. For example, the policy explicitly proposes the development of mechanisms to identify cases of forced labor involving children under age 14, and programs to remove children from those situations.(7) However, it is unclear whether any existing policies address mechanisms to identify forced labor cases involving children ages 14 through 17.
Universal Primary Education Policy* Provides tuition-free, universal primary education for children ages 6 to 12.(2)

*The impact of this policy on child labor does not appear to have been studied.



VI. Social Programs to Address the Worst Forms of Child Labor

In 2013, the Government of Cabo Verde participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating or preventing child labor, including its worst forms (Table 8).

Table 8. Social Programs to Address Child Labor
Program Description
Emergency and reception centers for children (CEI) and hotline (Disque Denuncia) Government program run by the Cabo Verdean ICCA. Operates emergency and reception centers for victims of child abuse and a hotline for calls about child abuse.(1, 12, 27) Assists child victims of sexual and economic exploitation.(1, 12, 27)
Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labor in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS I & II USDOL-funded regional projects that supported ECOWAS to strengthen its role in combating the worst forms of child labor in the West Africa sub region by providing policy and capacity-building support for all ECOWAS states.(28, 29)
Government efforts to increase access to education*‡ Government programs to increase the poor's access to education, such as by providing funds for school fees, school materials, and free meals.(12, 27) Universal Primary Education Policy provides free secondary education for children whose families earn less than $1,820 annually.(2)
Street Children Projects (Nôs Kaza-Criança fora da rua, dentro da escola) Government programs for children vulnerable to sexual and labor abuse, including programs to reintegrate children who have been living and working on the streets into their families and schools.(1, 12, 27). Connects street children with educational and training opportunities and helps these children access necessary social, psychological, and medical services.(12)

*The impact of this program on child labor does not appear to have been studied.
‡Program is funded by the Government of Cabo Verde.

Reports indicate that there are no funding or programs for trafficking victims or trafficking prevention.(30)

In late 2012, the National Statistical Institute collaborated with the ILO to conduct a national child labor survey, and the results of the survey are still being analyzed.(8, 18, 22, 27, 31)

Although Cabo Verde has programs that target child labor, the scope of these programs is insufficient to address the extent of the problem fully.



VII. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor, including its worst forms, in Cabo Verde (Table 9).

Table 9. Suggested Government Actions to Eliminate Child Labor, Including Its Worst Forms
Area Suggested Action Year(s) Suggested
Laws Ensure that relevant child labor laws and regulations apply equally to children, regardless if they have an employment contract. 2011 - 2013
Adopt a list of hazardous occupations prohibited to children. 2009 - 2013
Raise the minimum age for compulsory recruitment in armed conflict to age 18. 2011 - 2013
Amend the Penal Code to protect all children younger than age 18 from commercial sexual exploitation. 2009 - 2013
Raise the age of compulsory education to be equal to or higher than the minimum age for employment. 2011 - 2013
Enforcement Ensure investigations of crimes related to the worst forms of child labor are being conducted, and make data on investigations and prosecutions publicly available. 2011 - 2013
Government Policies Ensure that relevant policies target all children in forced labor. 2010 - 2013
Social Programs Assess the impact that existing education programs may have on child labor. 2011 - 2013
Analyze and publish results of 2012 child labor survey. 2013
Develop new and expand existing programs to target children involved in child labor in street work and in domestic service and for children who are victims of human trafficking. 2010 - 2013
Conduct research to determine specific activities related to children's work on the streets and in agriculture to inform policies and programs. 2013



1. U.S. Department of State. "Cabo Verde," in Trafficking in Persons Reports- 2013. Washington, DC; June 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210738.pdf.

2. U.S. Department of State. "Cabo Verde," in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices- 2012. Washington, DC; April 19, 2013; http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper.

3. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary. Total. [accessed February 10, 2014]; http://www.uis.unesco.org/Pages/default.aspx?SPSLanguage=EN . Data provided is the gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary school. This measure is a proxy measure for primary completion. For more information, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4. UCW. Analysis of Child Economic Activity and School Attendance Statistics from National Household or Child Labor Surveys. Original data from Inquérito as Despesas e Receitas Familiares, 2001-2002. Analysis received February 13, 2014. Reliable statistical data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms. As a result, statistics on children's work in general are reported in this chart, which may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on sources used, the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

5. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, January 17, 2014.

6. Portal da Ilha do Fogo. "Trabalho Infantil em Cabo Verde acontece mais no seio da familia." fogo.cv [online] June 14, 2010 [cited March 4, 2014]; http://www.fogo.cv/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2724&Itemid=50.

7. Government of Cabo Verde official. Letter to USDOL official. April 8, 2010.

8. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, February 15, 2013.

9. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, January 27, 2011.

10. ILO-IPEC. Estudo sobre a aplicação das Convenções n.° 138 e n.° 182 da OIT e suas recomendações na legislação nacional dos países da CPLP ; 2013. http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=23178.

11. Bordonaro, LI. From Home to the Street: Children's Street-Ward Migration in Cabo Verde. Lisbon, Centro em Rede de Investigacao em Antropologia; 2010. http://www.cria.org.pt/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=4&Itemid=92&lang=pt [source on file].

12. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Cabo Verde (ratification: 2001) Published: 2011; accessed December 9, 2013; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:20010:0::NO:::.

13. Government of Cabo Verde. Boletim Oficial Suplemento, 5/2007, enacted October 16, 2007. [source on file].

14. ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Cabo Verde (ratification: 2011) Published: 2014; accessed April 10, 2014; http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=1000:20010:0::NO:::.

15. Government of Cabo Verde. Código Penal de Cabo Verde, 4/2003, enacted 2004. http://www.mj.gov.cv/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=59&Itemid=66.

16. Child Soldiers International. "Appendix II: Data Summary on Recruitment Ages of National Armies," in Louder Than Words: An Agenda for Action to End State Use of Child Soldiers. London; 2012; http://www.child-soldiers.org/global_report_reader.php?id=562.

17. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, January 30, 2012.

18. ILO-IPEC. Supporting Actions to Meet the 2015 Targets to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Lusophone Countries in Africa. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; October 2012.

19. United Nations Treaty Collection Database. United Nations Treaty Collection: Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict accessed April 10, 2014; http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11-b&chapter=4&lang=en.

20. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, March 26, 2010.

21. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, May 19, 2014; 2014.

22. U.S. Embassy- Praia official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. March 20, 2013.

23. ILO. ECOWAS Ministers of Labour and Social Welfare Adopt a Regional Action Plan on Child Labour, Specially its Worst Forms. Press Release. Geneva; December 12, 2012. http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Events/WCMS_195519/lang--en/index.htm.

24. ILO-IPEC official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. April 11, 2012.

25. ILO-IPEC. Supporting Actions to Meet the 2015 Targets to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in Lusophone Countries in Africa. Technical Progress Report. Geneva; April 2012.

26. Radiotelevisao e Novas Tecnologias Educativas. "Governo apresenta Plano Estategico da Politica da Proteccao da Crianca e do Adolescente." radioeducativa.cv [on flie] January 16, 2012 [cited http://www.radioeducativa.cv/index.php?paginas=21&id_cod=207.

27. Government of Cabo Verde official. Letter to USDOL official. January 16, 2013.

28. ILO-IPEC. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS. Geneva; September 3, 2010.

29. ILO-IPEC. Eliminating the Worst Forms of Child Labour in West Africa and Strengthening Sub-Regional Cooperation through ECOWAS-II. Project Document. Geneva; December 20, 2010.

30. U.S. Embassy- Praia. reporting, Februrary 11, 2014.

31. ILO Official. E-mail communication to US DOL Official. June 19, 2014 2014.

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