Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports
In 2022, Cabo Verde made moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The General Legal Framework for the Protection of Children and Adolescents was approved by legislators during the reporting period. The Framework contains provisions addressing forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation and formalizes procedures for addressing situations in which children or adolescents are in danger. The government also reported its first worst forms of child labor conviction in recent years, imposing a 10-year sentence against an individual for the commercial sexual exploitation of a 14-year-old child. Additionally, the government began working on a new National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents and the National Statistics Institute conducted a survey on children, which included statistics on child labor. However, children in Cabo Verde are subjected to the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also perform dangerous tasks in agriculture. Although Cabo Verde made efforts in all relevant areas during the reporting period, laws prohibiting forced labor are not sufficient as they do not criminalize practices similar to slavery or debt bondage and forced or compulsory labor. In addition, coordination among law enforcement agencies is limited and social programs to assist children involved in agriculture and domestic work are not sufficient to address the scope of the problem.
Table 1 provides key indicators on children’s work and education in Cabo Verde.
|Working (% and population)||10 to 14||3.2 (2,392)|
|Working children by sector||10 to 14|
|Attending School (%)||5 to 14||90.1|
|Combining Work and School (%)||10 to 14||1.7|
|Primary Completion Rate (%)||100.0|
Source for primary completion rate: Data from 2019, published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2023. (1)
Source for all other data: International Labor Organization’s analysis of statistics from Inquérito as Despesas e Receitas Familiares (HHS), 2001–2002. (2)
Based on a review of available information, Table 2 provides an overview of children's work by sector and activity.
|Agriculture||Farming, including carrying heavy loads† (3-7)|
|Raising livestock (8)|
|Artisanal fishing in small boats† (7-9)|
|Industry||Construction, including sand extraction (5,9)|
|Services||Domestic work (3-7)|
|Street work, including vending, garbage scavenging,† car washing, and begging (5,7,9-11)|
|Categorical Worst Forms of Child Labor‡||Commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking (3,12-15)|
|Use in illicit activities, including drug trafficking (8,11)|
† Determined by national law or regulation as hazardous and, as such, relevant to Article 3(d) of ILO C. 182.
‡ Child labor understood as the worst forms of child labor per se under Article 3(a)–(c) of ILO C. 182.
During the reporting period, the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA) and the National Statistics Institute conducted a survey on children, including child labor, slated for release in 2023. (16)
Commercial sexual exploitation of boys and girls occurs in the tourism industry in Cabo Verde, and research indicates that the islands of Sal and Boa Vista have the highest incidence of commercial sexual exploitation of children. (8,11-14) In addition, anecdotal reports indicate that children may have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation on the islands of Brava, Santiago, Fogo, and São Vicente. (11)
According to the ICCA, not all students with special needs or children in remote areas of Cabo Verde have equal access to education. In some areas, children must travel long distances through mountainous topography to reach secondary schools. (16)
Cabo Verde has ratified all key international conventions concerning child labor (Table 3).
|ILO C. 138, Minimum Age||✓|
|ILO C. 182, Worst Forms of Child Labor||✓|
|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 laws and regulations related to child labor (Table 4). However, gaps exist in Cabo Verde's legal framework to adequately protect children from the worst forms of child labor, including the prohibition of forced labor.
|Standard||Meets International Standards||Age||Legislation|
|Minimum Age for Work||Yes||15||Article 261 of the Labor Code (17)|
|Minimum Age for Hazardous Work||Yes||18||Article 264 of the Labor Code; Article 133 of the Civil Code (17,18)|
|Identification of Hazardous Occupations or Activities Prohibited for Children||Yes||National List of Dangerous Work for Children (19)|
|Prohibition of Forced Labor||No||Article 14 of Chapter 3 of the Labor Code; Articles 271 and 271-A of the Penal Code (17,20,21)|
|Prohibition of Child Trafficking||Yes||Articles 149 and 271-A of the Penal Code (20)|
|Prohibition of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children||Yes||Articles 144, 145, 148–150, and 271-A of the Penal Code (20)|
|Prohibition of Using Children in Illicit Activities||Yes||Article 8 of the Drug Trafficking Law (22)|
|Minimum Age for Voluntary State Military Recruitment||Yes||17||Article 31 of the Military Service Law (23)|
|Prohibition of Compulsory Recruitment of Children by (State) Military||Yes||Article 2 of the Military Service Law (23)|
|Prohibition of Military Recruitment by Non-state Armed Groups||Yes||Article 268-C of the Penal Code (20)|
|Compulsory Education Age||Yes||15‡||Articles 13 and 20 of the Education Law (24)|
|Free Public Education||Yes||Article 14 of the Education Law (24)|
‡ Age calculated based on available information (25)
The General Legal Framework for the Protection of Children and Adolescents was approved by legislators during the reporting period, although additional steps must occur for it to enter into effect. The Framework contains provisions addressing forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation and formalizes procedures for addressing situations in which children or adolescents are in danger. (16,26)
Laws prohibiting forced labor are not sufficient because they do not criminalize practices similar to slavery, including debt bondage and forced or compulsory labor. (17,20) The Civil Code includes a list of light work activities that children aged 14 are allowed to perform; however, the law does not prescribe the number of hours per week permissible for light work, nor does it specify the conditions under which light work may be performed. (18,27,28)
The government has established institutional mechanisms for the enforcement of laws and regulations on child labor (Table 5). However, gaps exist within the operations of enforcement agencies that may hinder adequate enforcement of their child labor laws.
|Organization/Agency||Role & Activities|
|Inspectorate General of Labor (IGT)||Monitors and enforces child labor laws, working closely with the Cabo Verdean Institute for Children and Adolescents (ICCA). Overseen by the Ministry of Family, Inclusion, and Social Development. (5,6)|
|Attorney General's Office||Determines whether reported complaints or violations need further investigation and prepares cases for trial, including cases of the worst forms of child labor. (16)|
|National Police and Judicial Police||The National Police receives initial violation complaints, and the Judicial Police conducts criminal investigations as needed. (16)|
Labor Law Enforcement
In 2022, labor law enforcement agencies in Cabo Verde took actions to address child labor (Table 6). However, gaps exist within the operations of the Inspectorate General of Labor (IGT) that may hinder adequate labor law enforcement, including insufficient allocation of financial and human resources.
|Overview of Labor Law Enforcement||2021||2022|
|Labor Inspectorate Funding||Unknown||$372,693 (16)|
|Number of Labor Inspectors||21 (5)||20 (16)|
|Mechanism to Assess Civil Penalties||Yes (29)||Yes (29)|
|Training for Labor Inspectors Provided||N/A||Yes (16)|
|Number of Labor Inspections Conducted at Worksite||1,087 (5)||724 (16)|
|Number of Child Labor Violations Found||1 (5)||0 (16)|
|Number of Child Labor Violations for Which Penalties Were Imposed||1 (5)||0 (16)|
|Number of Child Labor Penalties Imposed that Were Collected||1 (5)||0(16)|
|Routine Inspections Conducted||Yes (5)||Yes (16)|
|Routine Inspections Targeted||Yes (5)||Yes (16)|
|Unannounced Inspections Permitted||Yes (29)||Yes (29)|
|Unannounced Inspections Conducted||Yes (5)||Yes (16)|
|Complaint Mechanism Exists||Yes (5)||Yes (16)|
|Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Labor Authorities and Social Services||Yes (5)||Yes (16)|
During the reporting period, IGT inspectors participated in a capacity-building program focused on addressing hazardous child labor, and a delegation from the IGT participated in a month-long training related to youth employment funded by the ILO. (16) Additionally, approximately 70 participants, many representing government institutions, attended a conference on international labor standards and Cabo Verdean labor law that was held as part of the ILO's Trade for Decent Work Project with the intent of strengthening the implementation of forced labor and child labor conventions. (30)
ICCA conducts informal inspections when it receives any allegations of child labor and keeps the Attorney General's Office informed whenever further investigative action is needed. All child labor cases found by IGT inspectors are referred to ICCA for care or for referral to social services providers. (5) From January to July 2022, ICCA registered six reported cases of child labor through its child protection hotline. (16)
The IGT reported that the number of labor inspectors is insufficient to cover the country's labor force. The IGT also reported that its budget is not sufficient to fulfill all of its operational needs. (16)
Criminal Law Enforcement
In 2022, criminal law enforcement agencies in Cabo Verde took actions to address child labor (Table 7). However, gaps exist within the operations of criminal enforcement agencies that may hinder adequate criminal law enforcement, including the government's limited capacity to collect anti-trafficking statistics and comprehensively report on law enforcement actions.
|Overview of Criminal Law Enforcement||2021||2022|
|Training for Criminal Investigators Provided||Unknown||Yes (16)|
|Number of Investigations||Unknown||2 (16)|
|Number of Prosecutions Initiated||Unknown||1 (30)|
|Number of Convictions||1 (31)||1 (30)|
|Imposed Penalties for Violations Related to the Worst Forms of Child Labor||Unknown||Yes (30)|
|Reciprocal Referral Mechanism Exists Between Criminal Authorities and Social Services||Yes (5)||Yes (16)|
In 2022, the government reported its first worst forms of child labor conviction in recent years, imposing a 10-year sentence against an individual for the commercial sexual exploitation of a 14-year-old child. (16)
Reports indicate that the Judicial Police and the National Police often lack the necessary financial and human resources to conduct thorough investigations, including in cases of child labor. (30) The government's capacity to collect anti-trafficking statistics and to comprehensively report on law enforcement actions, along with the reportedly limited coordination among law enforcement agencies, due to struggles in sharing case information and updates, may hinder enforcement efforts. (8,11) Reports also indicate that the judicial system is overburdened with a backlog of cases, which can contribute to a lack of protection for child victims of the worst forms of child labor, including children subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. (12,30,32)
The government has established mechanisms to coordinate its efforts to address child labor (Table 8).
|Coordinating Body||Role & Activities|
|National Committee for Child Labor Prevention and Eradication in Cabo Verde||Coordinates the execution of the National Action Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and provides a functional mechanism for reciprocal referrals between law enforcement and social services. (16) Led by ICCA, with support from the Ministry of Family, Inclusion, and Social Development. (5,33) Active during the reporting period. (16)|
The government has established policies that are consistent with relevant international standards on child labor (Table 9).
|Policy||Description & Activities|
|National Action Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor||Prioritizes the eradication 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. (33) Activities were undertaken to implement this policy in 2022. (16)|
|National Plan to Prevent and Combat Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents (2022–2024)||Aims to prevent and eliminate the sexual exploitation of children by building on lessons learned from the previous plan, while ensuring coordination among institutions and organizations that work to prevent and address sexual violence against children and adolescents. Establishes five goals, including (1) the active participation of children and adolescents; (2) the development of preventive actions against sexual violence; (3) a network of specialized care by trained professionals; (4) combating impunity; and (5) strengthening the national, regional, and local entities focused on combating and eliminating sexual violence against children and adolescents, including commercial sexual exploitation. (34) In 2022, the government began preparations for the creation of a national committee to manage and monitor the National Plan to Prevent and Combat Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents and draft local plans. The committee will consist of representatives from ICCA, UNICEF, the Cabo Verdean NGO Platform, and the education, health, and public ministries. (16)|
|National Communication Strategy for the Prevention and Combat of Sexual Violence||Aims to coordinate public policies to protect children and adolescents against sexual violence, including commercial sexual exploitation. (34) Implemented during the reporting period in collaboration with UNICEF, ICCA, and the Ministry of Family, Inclusion and Social Development. (16)|
In 2022, the government began developing a new national action plan on human trafficking to succeed the 2018–2021 plan, and while the new plan was not approved during the reporting period, a national drafting committee approved its goals and activities in December. (30)
In 2022, the government funded and participated in programs that include the goal of eliminating and preventing child labor (Table 10). However, gaps exist in these social programs, including inadequate efforts to address the problem in all sectors.
|Program||Description & Activities|
|Child Labor Awareness Campaigns†||Government program implemented by ICCA and the National Committee for Child Labor Prevention and Eradication that conducts national awareness-raising campaigns on the worst forms of child labor. (5) During the reporting period, several awareness campaigns addressing the rights of children, including the prevention and elimination of child labor, were conducted on a national level with various governmental and NGO institutions. ICCA further reported that, in 2022, about 425 community activities were conducted on a variety of children’s rights topics, including child labor. (35)|
|Help for At-Risk Children and Social Protection and Reintegration Centers†||ICCA-implemented program that provides education, health services, and professional training to vulnerable children and their families. (32) Operates six day centers for street children vulnerable to sexual and labor exploitation, including sex trafficking. Moreover, ICCA operates three additional centers for street children through its Nôs Kaza center. (32) The government also operates five long-term social protection and reintegration centers that provide support and educational integration services to children who have experienced long-term trauma, including child trafficking. (36) Active in 2022. (16)|
|Child Emergency Centers†||ICCA-implemented program that operates two emergency centers for child victims of abuse and sexual exploitation on Santiago and São Vicente islands, operating 24/7. (33,36) Active in 2022. (16)|
For information about USDOL’s projects to address child labor around the world, visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/ilab-project-page-search
† Program is funded by the Government of Cabo Verde.
Research indicates that awareness-raising efforts on human trafficking, including child sex tourism, remained insufficient on some of the nine inhabited islands. (11) Research also found that programs to assist children involved in agriculture and domestic work are not sufficient to address the scope of the problem.
Based on the reporting above, suggested actions are identified that would advance the elimination of child labor in Cabo Verde (Table 11).
|Area||Suggested Action||Year(s) Suggested|
|Legal Framework||Ensure that laws prohibiting forced labor criminalize slavery and practices similar to slavery, including debt bondage and forced or compulsory labor.||2021 – 2022|
|Prescribe by law the number of hours per week and conditions under which light work may be undertaken by children.||2015 – 2022|
|Enforcement||Ensure that the Inspectorate General of Labor is provided with an adequate budget to fulfill all its needs.||2021 – 2022|
|Ensure that the number of labor inspectors is sufficient to address the scope of the problem.||2011 – 2022|
|Ensure that criminal investigators receive sufficient financial and human resources to conduct thorough investigations, including investigations of child labor.||2014 – 2022|
|Develop a system to compile and share comprehensive anti-trafficking in persons and victim identification data among criminal enforcement agencies to improve coordination efforts.||2018 – 2022|
|Ensure that the judiciary has sufficient resources and personnel to allow cases to be prosecuted in a timely manner.||2019 – 2022|
|Social Programs||Ensure that students with special needs and children in remote areas have equal access to education, including by providing adequate transportation.||2020 – 2022|
|Conduct awareness-raising activities on human trafficking, including child sex tourism, on all nine inhabited islands.||2018 – 2022|
|Institute programs to address child labor in agriculture and domestic work.||2010 – 2022|
- UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Gross intake ratio to the last grade of primary education, both sexes (%). Accessed: March 15, 2023. For more information, please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.
- ILO. 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 (HHS), 2001–2002. Analysis received March 2023. For more information, please see “Children's Work and Education Statistics: Sources and Definitions” in the Reference Materials section of this report.
- Pina, Constânça. PR chama “níveis pouco razoáveis” abuso e exploração sexual menores. June 1, 2018. Source on file.
- Agência Cabo Verdiana de Notícias. Situação do trabalho infantil em Santiago Norte continua “preocupante” – delegado do ICCA. Inforpress, June 12, 2018.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia. Reporting. January 28, 2022.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia. Reporting. January 25, 2021.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Conferência Internacional da Eliminação do Trabalho Infantil Fernando Elísio Freire discursa na Sessão da União Africana. May 17, 2022.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia. Reporting. January 23, 2019.
- A Nação. São Vicente: Uma em cada cinco crianças do Centro Juvenil foi vítima de trabalho infantil. June 10, 2021.
- ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Cabo Verde (ratification: 2001). Published: 2019. Accessed: February 28, 2019.
- U.S. Department of State. Trafficking in Persons Report- 2022: Cabo Verde. Washington, D.C., July 19, 2022.
- A Nação. Boa Vista e Sal têm “maior índice” de criminalidade de exploração sexual de menores – deputada. October 25, 2019.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia. Reporting. February 4, 2020.
- Rede Nacional de Prevenção de Abuso e Exploração Sexual de Menores. Plano de Acção da Coordenação Nacional das Redes e Prevenção e Combate aos Abusos e Exploração Sexuais de Crianças em Cabo Verde. January 2019. Source on file.
- A Nação. Predadores sexuais via Facebook: Pena dura para irmãos Alves. February 25, 2018.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia. Reporting. January 18, 2023.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Código Laboral Cabo-Verdiano, Lei nº 5/2007. Enacted: October 16, 2007. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Código Civil, Portaria nº 68-A/97. Enacted: September 30, 1997.
http://www.africanchildforum.org/clr/Legislation Per Country/cape verde/capeverde_civilcode_1997_pr.pdf
- Government of Cabo Verde. Lei nº 113/VIII/2016, de 10 de março, que aprova a Lista Nacional do Trabalho Infantil Perigoso (TIP) e regula a sua aplicação. Enacted: March 10, 2016.
http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/101425/122193/F1140011145/LEY 113 CABO VERDE.pdf
- Government of Cabo Verde. Código Penal, Decreto-legislativo n° 4/2015. Enacted: November 11, 2015. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Lei nº 117/IX/2021 - Procede à quarta alteração ao Código Penal, aprovado pelo Decreto-Legislativo n.º 4/2003, de 18 de novembro. Enacted: February 11, 2021. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Lei nº 78/IV/93. Enacted: July 12, 1993. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Lei do Serviço Militar, Decreto-Legislativo nº 6/93. Enacted: May 24, 1993. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Bases do Sistema Educativo, Decreto-Legislativo nº 13/2018. December 7, 2018. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Bases do Sistema Educativo, Decreto-Legislativo nº 2/2010. Enacted: May 7, 2010. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Aprova o regime jurídico geral de proteção de crianças e adolescentes em situação de perigo. May 5, 2022. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Lei nº 50/VIII/2013, Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente - ECA. ICCA, Ministério da Juventude, Emprego e Desenvolvimento dos Recursos Humanos. December 26, 2013.
- ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) Cabo Verde (ratification: 2011). Published: 2018.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Decreto-Lei nº 13/2012. May 4, 2012. Source on file.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia. Reporting. February 9, 2023.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 2, 2022.
- U.S. Embassy Praia official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 17, 2021.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Plano de Acção de Prevenção e Erradicação do Trabalho Infantil-PANPETI, Resolução n° 43/2014, do B.O.I Série, n° 36. Enacted: June 2, 2014. Source on file.
- Government of Cabo Verde. Resolução nº 102/2021: Plano de Ação Nacional de Prevenção e Combate á Violência Sexual Contra Crianças e Adolescentes. November 19, 2021. Source on file.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. June 9, 2023.
- U.S. Embassy- Praia official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. May 15, 2021.