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28 April 2021 – Cape Verde

Military Personnel Carry Ballot Boxes and Voting Equipment to a Polling Station in Praia on 17 April 2021, (AFP, TRT World,
Military Personnel Carry Ballot Boxes and Voting Equipment to a Polling Station in Praia on 17 April 2021, (AFP, TRT World, "Voters go to Polls in Cape Verde to Elect New Government," 18 April 2021,

The Republic of Cabo Verde is an island country in the central Atlantic Ocean with a population of approximately 550,000 people. Following the confirmation of the first COVID-19 case in the country on 20 March 2020, a state of emergency was declared and a series of measures were implemented including the suspension of all incoming flights. Certain measures had been eased by early 2021, although people arriving in Cabo Verde must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before travel. As of 27 April 2021, the country had recorded 22,586 cases of COVID-19 and 208 related deaths.

The GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are used in Cabo Verde as part of immigration enforcement procedures or to obtain details on COVID-19 related measures that may have been taken to safeguard people in immigration or criminal custody, or those in international protection situations. According to UNHCR, during 2020, the country reported no refugees or asylum cases, although there were 115 stateless persons.

The UN Committee against Torture, in its concluding observations from its 2017 review of Cabo Verde, noted with concern that “neither the Constitution nor Law No. 99/V/99 on the legal regime of asylum and refugee status include the risk of being subjected to torture in the country of destination as a reason for granting protection. Furthermore, the Committee expresses concern at the absence of an institutional framework for an asylum determination procedure.… While noting that asylum seekers would have a right to judicial review in accordance with Legislative Decree No. 6/97, the Committee regrets that they would not be protected against refoulement during the judicial review process, since the review would not have suspensive effect on an expulsion order.” In consequence, the Committee recommended that the State party “(a) Adopt the necessary legislative measures to explicitly incorporate into its legislation regulating and expulsion of undocumented migrants the principle of non-refoulement set out in Article 3 of the Convention; (b) Promptly establish a national asylum determination procedure that carries out a thorough assessment of the merits of each individual case and a medical and psychological examination when indications of torture or traumatization have been detected among applicants; (c) Set up an asylum registration and screening process at the borders to identify as early as possible victims of torture and trafficking and provide them with immediate rehabilitation and priority access to the asylum determination procedure;” and “(d) Provide for an effective judicial remedy with automatic suspensive effect on the deportation orders of asylum seekers and other undocumented immigrants.”

In 2015, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers recommended that “the State party promote alternatives to detention for migrant workers and members of their families” and “that the State party provide detailed information in the number of migrants arrested, detained and expelled for immigration-related infractions, as well as the reasons for the detention and expulsion of these migrant workers.” Moreover, it recommended that Cabo Verde “repeal all provisions of Decree Law No. 6/97 of May 1997 which are in violation of the Convention.”

In its 2018 state report to the Committee on Migrant Workers, the country stated it had repealed the Legislative Decree No. 6/97 and replaced it with the Law on the entry, stay, exit and removal of foreign nationals from the Cabo Verde (RJE). The country indicated that following the entry into force of the RJE, a process of “extraordinary regularization of irregular citizens in the national territory was conducted in 2015, during which 1,058 citizens were regularized (888 males and 170 females).” Furthermore, according to the state report, “there are no records of migrant children detained in the country and there are no practices of detention of children due to irregular immigration.” In addition, the country reported that “although Law No. 106/V/99, of August 2, foresees the establishment of Temporary Installation Centres for foreign nationals, the establishment of such facilities has not been necessary considering that Cabo Verde does not implement institutional practices towards the detention of persons in irregular migration: alternative measures to detention have been preferred, such as the notification for regularization or voluntary abandonment of the national territory within 10 to 20 days, period which may be extended in cases of children attending school, the presence of other family members and social ties (Article 79 of the RJE).” Cabo Verde also stated that in cases where the return of a person to their country of origin due to prohibited entry of that person, they may be held in a hotel unit or other “decent” facility.

The country received numerous relevant recommendations during its review for the third cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2018, including: “ratify the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (para. 112.7)” and “consider enhancing coordination between institutions and services that deal with migration-related issues to aid in the effective implementation of rights under the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Ghana) (para. 112.156).”

In May 2020, the country’s National Human Rights Commission recommended the early release of prisoners in order to decongest prisons and avoid a spread of COVID-19. On 20 August 2020, the Ministry of Health revealed that they had identified 25 COVID-19 cases in the Praia jail.