Comparative law and justice/Cape Verde

Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project

Basic Information


The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago located in the Macaronesia ecoregion of the North


Atlantic Ocean, off the western coast of Africa, opposite Mauritania and Senegal.The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and attained independence from Portugal in 1975. The Cape Verde archipelago is located approximately 604 kilometres (375 mi) off the coast of West Africa. It is composed of ten islands (of which nine are inhabited) and eight islets.[1] The islands have a combined size of just over 4,000 square kilometers.[2] The islands are divided into the Barlavento (windward) islands (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, and Boa Vista) and the Sotavento (leeward) islands (Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava).[3] The largest island, both in size and population, is Santiago, where the capital of Praia is located.[4] Though Cape Verde's islands are all volcanic in origin, they vary widely in terrain.[5] A still-active volcano on the island of Fogo is the highest point on the archipelago (elevation 2,829 meters).[6] Extensive salt flats are found on Sal and Maio.[7] On Santiago, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau, arid slopes give way in places to sugarcane fields or banana plantations spread along the base of towering mountains.[8]

Cape Verde’s climate is milder than that of the African mainland; because the island is surrounded by the sea, temperatures are generally moderate. [9] Average daily high temperatures range from 25 °C (77 °F) in January to 29 °C (84 °F) in September. Cape Verde is part of the Sahelian arid belt, with nothing like the rainfall levels of nearby West Africa.[10] It does rain irregularly between August and October, with frequent brief-but-heavy downpours.[11] A desert is usually defined as terrain which receives less than 250 mm of annual rainfall.[12] Cape Verde's total (261 mm) is slightly above this criterion, which makes the area's climate


semi-desert. Cape Verde's isolation has resulted in the islands having a number of endemic species, particularly bird and reptiles, many of which are endangered by human development. Endemic birds include Alexander's Swift (Apus alexandri), the Raso Lark (Alauda razae), the Cape Verde Warbler (Acrocephalus brevipennis), and the Iago Sparrow (Passer iagoensis).[14] The islands are also an important breeding area for seabirds including the Cape Verde Shearwater. Reptiles include the Cape Verde Giant Gecko (Tarentola gigas). Hurricanes that form near the Cape Verde Islands are sometimes referred to as Cape Verde-type hurricanes. These hurricanes can become very intense as they cross warm Atlantic waters.[15]

As of 2007, Cape Verde is classified as a developing country after being promoted from Least Developed Countries status.[16] About 20% of the population lives on less than $1.25 (U.S.) a day.[17]

Economic Development


The development plan adopted in 1991 sought to transform Cape Verde into an open-market style economy. The development priorities include the promotion of the service-sector industries such as tourism, fishing, maritime services, and transshipping. In 1994, the government announced a five-year plan to develop the fishing industry, focusing mostly on lobster and tuna. A free-trade port was projected, and offshore banking was planned. In 1997, the government adopted a four-year development plan that focused on debt management and sustainable development. Cape Verde entered into an $11 million three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2002. Economic growth and international reserves increased in 2002, and inflation fell. The fiscal deficit was lower than expected, the balance of payments was stronger, and investment increased. The government that came into office in 2001 focused on implementing tight monetary policies and improving the social and economic infrastructure. A new tax package was scheduled to be implemented in 2003.[18]



This island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought. The economy is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for about three-fourths of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of food production in GDP is low. About 82% of food must be imported. The fishing potential, mostly lobster and tuna, is not fully exploited. Cape Verde annually runs a high trade deficit, financed by foreign aid and remittances from emigrants; remittances supplement GDP by more than 20%. Economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy. Future prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program. Cape Verde became a member of the WTO in July 2008.[19]



Medical facilities in Cape Verde are limited, and some medicines are in short supply or unavailable. There are hospitals in Praia and Mindelo, with smaller medical facilities in other places. The islands of Brava and Santo Antão no longer have functioning airports so air evacuation in the event of a medical emergency is nearly impossible from these two islands. Brava also has limited inter-island ferry service. Malaria exists in Cape Verde, although not to the extent found in mainland Africa. The risk of contracting malaria is mainly limited to the island of Santiago, with a higher risk from July to December.[20] Infant mortality rate: total: 41.35 deaths/1,000 live births male: 47.39 deaths/1,000 live births female: 35.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)[21]



According to Ministry of Health estimates, since the beginning of the pandemic through December 2004, 1,489 Cape Verdeans have been infected with HIV, translating to a relatively low HIV prevalence rate. Of these identified cases, 800 (53.7 percent) contracted AIDS and 53 of those died from complications related to HIV/AIDS. At the end of 2004 there were 1,063 people living with HIV, and 374 of these with full-blown AIDS. In 2004 alone, 260 people became newly infected with HIV, and 123 of these people are living with AIDS. According to 2004 fi gures from the national HIV/AIDS Commission, 50 percent of HIV cases are between 25 and 49 years old; and among teens, girls accounted for more than half of new HIV-positive infections reported].[22]



In the pre-independence period, education in the country followed the Portuguese system. Education under the independent government has been patterned after the program of popular education carried out in the liberated areas of Guinea-Bissau. The program stresses universal literacy and primary skills, with advanced education geared toward agricultural and technical skills for production. In 1998, primary schools had 91,177 students and 3,219 teachers, with a student to teacher ratio of 29 to 1. Secondary schools had 31,602 students and 1,372 teachers in the same year. As of 1999, 99% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 48% of those eligible attended secondary school. Primary education is compulsory and lasts for six years. Projected adult illiteracy rates for the year 2000 stand at 26.5% (males, 15.7%; females, 34.7%). As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.4% of GDP.[23]According to official policy, compulsory primary education begins at age six or seven and lasts for six years. It is followed by secondary schooling, which is divided into two phases of three and two years, respectively. Universities located in Cape Verde include the Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde (2001) and the University of Cape Verde (2006). There are also institutes for teaching and nurse training and for engineering and maritime technology.[24]

Brief History


Uninhabited on their discovery in 1456, the Cape Verde islands became part of the Portuguese empire in 1495. A majority of today's inhabitants are of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry. Positioned on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the islands became a prosperous center for the slave trade but suffered economic decline after the slave trade was abolished in 1876. In the 20th century, Cape Verde served as a shipping port. In 1951, Cape Verde's status changed from a Portuguese colony to an overseas province, and in 1961 the inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens. An independence movement led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (another former Portuguese colony) and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded in 1956. Following the 1974 coup in Portugal, after which Portugal began abandoning its colonial empire, the islands became independent (July 5, 1975). On Jan. 13, 1991, the first multiparty elections since independence resulted in the ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) losing its majority to the Movement for Democracy Party (MPD). The MPD candidate, Antonio Monteiro, won the subsequent presidential election, and was easily reelected in 1996. In 2001, Pedro Pires became president.[25]



In an effort to take advantage of its proximity to cross-Atlantic sea and air lanes, the government has embarked on a major expansion of its port and airport capacities. It is also modernizing its fish processing industry. These projects are being partly paid for by the EU and the World Bank, making Cape Verde one of the largest per-capita aid recipients in the world. Disenchantment with the government's privatization program, continued high unemployment, and widespread poverty helped defeat the MPD in elections held in Jan. 2001. The PAICV swept back into power and José Maria Neves became prime minister. In 2006, incumbent Pedro Pires was reelected president. [26]



By Birth: Birth within the territory of Cape Verde does not automatically confer citizenship. The exception is a child born to unknown parents. By Descent: Child, at least one of whose parents is a citizen of Cape Verde, is granted citizenship regardless of the country of birth. By Naturalization: Cape Verdean citizenship may be acquired upon fulfillment of the following conditions: Person must have resided in the country for at least five years. Person who makes a sizeable investment in Cape Verde may be granted citizenship without the residency requirement. Marriage: Person who marries a citizen of Cape Verde is automatically eligible for citizenship upon request.[27]

Political conditions


Following independence in 1975, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) established a one party political system. This became the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) in 1980, as Cape Verde sought to distance itself from Guinea-Bissau, following unrest in that country.

In 1991, following growing pressure for a more pluralistic society, multi-party elections were held for the first time. The opposition party, the Movement for Democracy (Cape Verde)Movement for Democracy (MpD), won the legislative elections, and formed the government. The MpD candidate also defeated the PAICV candidate in the presidential elections. In the 1996 elections, the MpD increased their majority, but in the 2001 the PAICV returned to power, winning both the Legislative and the Presidential elections.

Generally, Cape Verde enjoys a stable democratic system. The elections have been considered free and fair, there is a free press, and the rule of law is respected by the State. In acknowledgment of this, Freedom House granted Cape Verde two 1s in its annual Freedom in the World report, a perfect score. It is the only African country to receive this score.[28]

Executive branch


The Prime Minister is the head of the government and as such proposes other ministers and secretaries of state. The Prime Minister is nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the President. The President is the head of state and is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; the most recent elections were held in 2006.[29]

Legislative branch


The National Assembly of Cape Verde National Assembly (Asembleia Nacional) has 72 members, elected for a five year term by proportional representation.[30]

Courts and Criminal Law


The judicial system is composed of the Supreme Court and the regional courts. Of the five Supreme Court judges, one is appointed by the President, one by the National Assembly, and three by the Superior Judiciary Council. This council consists of the President of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, eight private citizens, two judges, two prosecutors, the senior legal inspector of the Attorney General's office, and a representative of the Ministry of Justice. Judges are independent and may not belong to a political party. In October 2000, a female judge who was known for taking strict legal measures in cases of domestic violence was transferred from the capital to the countryside. Separate courts hear civil, constitutional and criminal cases. Appeal is to the Supreme Court. Reforms to strengthen an overburdened judiciary were implemented in 1998. Free legal counsel is provided to indigents, defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and trials are public. Judges must lay charges within 24 hours of arrests.. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respects this provision in practice. The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial and due process, and an independent judiciary usually enforces this right. Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports of politicization and biased judgement in the judiciary. Cases involving former public office holders still are under investigation. For example, the investigations continued in the case of the former prime minister accused of embezzlement in the privatization of ENACOL (a parastatal oil supply firm) in which he allegedly embezzled approximately $16,250 (2 million Cape Verdean escudos) from the buyers of the parastatal. The case of four persons accused of church desecration in 1996 also was under investigation. These individuals filed a complaint with the Attorney General against the judiciary police for alleged fabrication of evidence.[31]

The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial. Defendants are presumed to be innocent; they have the right to a 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 does not have judicial powers; such powers lie with the courts.[32]

The judiciary generally provides due process rights; however, the right to an expeditious trial is constrained by a seriously overburdened and understaffed judicial system. A backlog of cases routinely leads to trial delays of 6 months or more; more than 10,780 cases were pending at year's end. In addition the right of victims to compensation and recovery for pain and mental suffering are overlooked, due both to the low damage assessments imposed and ineffective enforcement of court sentences.[33]

Correction Facilities


There are only about 600 inmates in Cape Verde's prisons, with a rate of about 150 per 100,000 population. Prison conditions are poor, and they are severely overcrowded. The former President's July 2000 amnesty did not reduce the overcrowding. Sanitation and medical assistance is poor; a doctor and a nurse were available and prisoners were taken to the public hospitals for serious problems. Psychological problems were common. Although women and men are held separately, juveniles are not held separately from adults, and pretrial detainees are not held separately from convicted prisoners. According to a 2000 study by the Ze Moniz Association (AZM), there were reports that guards abused female prisoners.[34]

Abuse Against Women


Domestic violence against women, including wife beating, remains common. The Government and civil society encourage women to report criminal offenses such as rape and spousal abuse to the police; however, longstanding social and cultural values inhibit victims from doing so, and according to the media, such reports remain rare. Nevertheless reporting of such crimes to police continue to increase and the media continue to report their occurrence. Violence against women has been the subject of extensive public service media coverage in both government- and opposition-controlled media. While mechanisms to deal with spousal abuse exist in theory, in practice these mechanisms neither ensure the punishment of all those responsible nor effectively prevent future violence. Women's organizations continue to seek legislation to establish a special family court to address crimes of domestic violence and abuse; however, they made no progress in achieving such legislation. In 1998 the Parliament revised the Penal Code, widening the definition of sexual abuse and strengthening penalties against abusers. The law protects certain rights of the victims; however, does not ensure the right of compensation.[35]

Child Abuse


Child abuse and mistreatment, sexual violence against children, and juvenile prostitution are problems, exacerbated by chronic poverty, large unplanned families, and traditionally high levels of emigration of adult men. The media have reported cases of sexual abuse against children and adolescents. The inefficiencies of the judicial system made it difficult for government institutions to address the problem.[36]

Trafficing in People


The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons, and illegal trafficking in economic emigrants to various points in Europe is believed to be a thriving business. Visa and related fraud are involved in the trafficking of economic emigrants who are smuggled into Europe; however, there are no reports that these persons are trafficked into forced labor or debt bondage. The country is a transit point for traffickers, and trafficking has become a concern for local authorities. Several press reports noted that the police have arrested some persons, traffickers as well as victims. In 2000 such cases involved fewer than 30 persons. The Government was cooperating with European authorities, neighboring governments, and foreign embassies to deal with the problem.[37]

Drug Trafficing


Detailed information on drug trafficking for Cape Verde has not yet been located; however, according to the CIA Factbook, Cape Verde is used as a transshipment point for illicit drugs moving from Latin America and Africa destined for Western Europe. [38]



Cape Verde has no Capital Punishment and there are no prison sentences over 25 years.The last execution was performed in 1835, when the islands were part of the Portuguese Empire.[39]

Law Enforcement


The police, which were controlled by the military in Cape Verde until 1994, are now separate and answerable to civilian authority. Detailed information on Cape Verde's police and police organization has not been obtained; however, the police in Cape Verde have been discussed in the 2001 Human Rights Report. According to the Human Rights Report, the Government controls the police, which has primary responsibility for maintenance of law and order. Some members of the police and prison guards have committed human rights abuses. The Constitution prohibits such practices; however, despite government efforts to control beatings by police, there have been credible reports that police continue to beat persons in custody and in detention. While mechanisms for investigating citizen complaints of police brutality exist in theory, in practice these mechanisms neither ensure the punishment of those responsible nor prevent future violations. In addition in some instances of violence against women, the police did not protect the victims effectively. There were reports that immigration authorities harassed Nigerian citizens. Following its January 2001 election, the Government began investigating allegations of human rights abuses by police; however, no subsequent action was taken. The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observes these prohibitions. The law stipulates that a suspect must be charged before a judge within 48 hours of arrest. Police may not make arrests without a court order unless a person is caught in the act of committing a felony. The courts have jurisdiction over state security cases, and there is a functioning system of bail.[40]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion

Rates of Key Crimes in
Theft(Robbery) [41]

Urban areas: 3% Rural ares: .1%


Urban areas: 5.6% Rural areas: .7%

Crimes against property[43]

Urban areas: 5.4% Rural areas: 1.2%



Family Law




Adoption Agencies: Cape Verde does not have a local adoption agency, nor does the U.S. Embassy in Praia know of an international adoption agency that works with Cape Verde at this time. There are, however, orphanages in Cape Verde that can release a child for adoption. Should prospective adoptive parents wish to hire a Cape Verdean attorney to assist with the adoption, a list of attorneys may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in Praia.[44]If an American prospective adoptive family is interested in a child who has living biological parents, Cape Verdean law requires the biological parents to legitimate the child in order to relinquish their parental rights. (A sizeable percentage of Cape Verdean children are born out of wedlock.) Even if this step to comply with Cape Verdean law is undertaken, however, the child may still not qualify as an “orphan” under U.S. immigration law, which is extremely difficult when there are two living birth parents. [45] Eligibility Requirements for adoptive parents: Must be between 25 and 60 years old; Must be able to exercise full civil and political rights in their home country; Must possess good morals and economic means to ensure the complete development of the child; Must have apparent good health and reasonable education; The difference in age between the prospective parents and child must be more than 16 years and no more than 40 years. [46]After an adoption has been granted, an adoption decree (Certidao de Adopcao) may be requested from the District Court for Families and Minors (Tribunal de Familia e Menores da Comarca) in Santiago (Praia) or Sao Vicente (Mindelo) or from the District Court (Tribunal da Comarca) on all other islands and in areas outside Praia, Santiago, and Mindelo, Sao Vicente. Adoption decrees must be requested from the court where the adoption was granted. [47]



Legal and church weddings are uncommon in Cape Verde. More often than not, a woman will simply sai di casa (leave her family's house) to move in with her boyfriend. This is often occasioned by the woman becoming pregnant. After four years of cohabitation, a relationship acquires the status of common-law marriage. While polygamy is not legal, it is customary for men (married or not) to be sleeping with several women at once.[48]



Alot of times divorce is not allowed by the woman so divorce is not common in Cape Verde.[49] Divorce Certificates (Certidao do Divorcio) are issued by the Conservatoria dos Registos on the island where the divorce was decreed. [50]

Human Rights


The Republic of Cape Verde recognizes the citizens' equality of all before the law, without distinction of social origin or economic situation, race, sex, religion, political or ideological convictions and social condition and it assures the full exercise for all the citizens of the fundamental freedoms. The Republic of Cape Verde stands in the popular will and has as fundamental objective the achievement of the economic, political, social and cultural democracy and the construction of a free, fair and jointly responsible society. The Republic of Cape Verde will create progressively the indispensable conditions to the removal of all of the obstacles that can impede the human person's full development and to limit the citizens' equality and the effective participation of these in the political, economical, social and cultural organization of the State and of the cape-verdean society. [51]

Cape Verde Constitution on Human Rights:


TITLE II -- RIGHTS, LIBERTIES AND GUARANTEES CHAPTER I -- INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, LIBERTIES AND GUARANTEES Article 26 (The right to life and to physical and moral integrity) 1. Human life and the physical and moral integrity of the human person shall be inviolable. 2. No one shall be submitted to torture, cruel, degrading or inhumane penalties and treatment and, in no circumstances, shall there be death penalty. Article 27 (The right to freedom) 1. The right to freedom shall be inviolable. 2. Freedom of thought, of expression, of association, of religion, of cult, of intellectual, artistic and cultural creation, of demonstration and the remaining freedoms established in the Constitution, by law and in general or conventional international law, received in the internal legal order, shall be guaranteed. 3. No one shall be obliged to declare his ideology, religion or cult, political or trade union affiliation. Article 28 (Right to freedom and security of person) 1. Anyone shall have the right to freedom and security. No one shall be deprived, in part or in whole, of his freedom, save in case of a condemnatory judicial sentence for the commission of acts punishable by law with imprisonment penalty or by judicial imposition of security measures. 2. The preceding paragraph shall not apply to the deprivation of freedom for the time strictly necessary to the attainment of the objectives set, in accordance with the conditions established by law, in one of the following cases: a) Imprisonment "in flagrante delicto"; b) Strong evidence of the commission of voluntary crime punishable with imprisonment penalty, whose maximum limit is more than two years and insufficiency or inappropriateness of measures of provisional liberty; c) Non-compliance with the condition imposed on the indicted person under the regime of provisional liberty; d) Detention or imprisonment to secure the obedience to judicial decision or the presence before the judicial authority competent for the practice of or compliance with a judicial act; e) Subjection to security measures, assistance and protection of minors or of senior persons who by law shall enjoy the same status as the former; f) Imprisonment or detention of persons against whom extradition or expulsion proceedings is underway; g) Disciplinary imprisonment imposed on military and police agents with a guarantee of appeal to the competent court in accordance with the law, after exhausting all the hierarchical means. 3. Any detained or imprisoned person shall be immediately informed, in an unequivocal and understandable manner, of the reasons for his detention or his imprisonment and about his constitutional and legal rights and he shall be authorized to contact counsel directly or through his family or person of his confidence. 4. The detained or imprisoned person shall not be obliged to make statements. 5. The detained or imprisoned person has the right to the disclosure of the identification of those responsible for his detention or imprisonment or for his interrogation. 6. The detention or imprisonment of any person and the precise place where he is found shall be conveyed immediately to the family of the detained or imprisoned person or to the person he indicates, with a summary description of the reasons which led to his detention or imprisonment.[52]

Works Cited