The 1992 Constitution of Cabo Verde (as revised in 2010) protects fundamental human rights, including the rights to life and to freedom from inhumane treatment. Article 28 provides that:
1. Human life and the physical and moral integrity of the human person shall be inviolable.
2. No one may be subjected to torture, or to treatment or punishments or treatments that are cruel, degrading or inhumane....
The freedom to demonstrate is generally protected in Article 29. Article 53 provides as follows:
1. Citizens shall have the right to assemble, peacefully and without arms, even in places open to the public without the need for authorization.
2. The right to demonstrate shall be recognized for all citizens.
3. Assembly, when it is to occur in places open to the public, and demonstration must be communicated to the appropriate authorities in advance, under the terms of the law.
Article 244 of the Constitution governs the police:
1. The police shall have the responsibility of defending democratic legality, preventing crime and ensuring internal security, public order and the exercise of the rights of citizens.
2. Police measures shall be foreseen in the law and obey the principles of legality, of necessity, of adequacy and of proportionality and shall be used with respect for the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens.
3. The law shall establish the system of the security forces and their organization.
4. There may be municipal police forces, whose regime and form of creation shall be established by law.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights||State Party|
|1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court||Not party|
|Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions||N/A|
|Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights||Not party|
Police Use of Force
Law enforcement in Cabo Verde is primarily the responsibility of the Cabo Verde National Police.
Legislation in force in Cabo Verde authorises the police to use “adequate and strictly necessary force to restore legality, prevent imminent or ongoing aggression, in self-defence or in defence of others, to overcome resistance to legitimate law enforcement, and to maintain the principle of authority”.Art. 74(g), 2010 Statute of Police Personnel of the National Police.
The specific legislation governing when the police may lawfully use firearms does not comply with international law. According to Article 96(4) of the 2010 Statute of Police Personnel of the National Police:
The use of firearms is permitted as a measure of extreme coercion provided that it is proportionate to the circumstances of each case.
In its 2018 national report on its implementation of the ICCPR, Cabo Verde stated that:
The law indicates the situations in which public authorities are allowed to use weapon [a firearm], notably, for own self-defence or self-defence of others; to effect or maintain detention or to prevent the flight of an individual suspected of having committed a serious crime; to conduct the arrest of an individual who has been evaded or who is the subject of an order or warrant for the commission of a crime; to free hostages; to prevent a serious and imminent attack on facilities of public or social utility, the destruction of which causes material injury, to defend a service station or facility under its custody; by order of their superiors. The use of a firearm by a police officer obliges him/her to report its use as shortly as possible and, if he/she has caused injury to any person, he/she has the duty to provide assistance.
Under international law, police use of firearms is restricted to where it is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.
There is no independent civilian police oversight body in Cabo Verde. The Provedor de Justica (Ombudsman) of Cape Verde is an independent body that is mandated to defend and promote human rights, and can address issues of excessive police use of force.
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Cabo Verde, the Committee against Torture called on the authorities to inform it "about the scope of the mandate of the National Police Council and the National Police Disciplinary Board, as well as how the independence of those bodies is guaranteed and how those bodies relate to the Public Prosecutor’s Office when they are conducting criminal and disciplinary investigations".
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2019 Concluding Observations on the Initial Report of Cabo Verde, the Human Rights Committee stated that it was concerned about reports of excessive use of force and aggression against persons arrested and detained by the police. It calle on the authorities to Eensure that the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials "are implemented through measures to ensure that law enforcement personnel do not use excessive force".
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Cabo Verde, the Committee against Torture expressed its concern
about consistent reports of police brutality against detained persons and about allegations of racial profiling during security operations and investigations.
The Committee noted with concern
that the National Commission for Human Rights and Citizenship receives approximately 10 complaints per year of excessive use of force by the police and that, according to other sources, the National Police Council received 50 reports of police abuse in the first 10 months of 2015. Given this data, the Committee regrets the lack of information, owing to the absence of a State party report, about whether any criminal or disciplinary sanctions were imposed for those abuses. The Committee also notes with concern that the delays in criminal proceedings have reportedly contributed to the perception of impunity among the population, who often withdraw their complaints or decide not to bring their cases to justice....
The Committee against Torture called on Cabo Verde to:
- Take appropriate measures to further strengthen the supervision and monitoring mechanisms of the police force, particularly with regard to the treatment of persons under custody;
- Ensure that all complaints of police brutality or excessive use of force are promptly investigated in an impartial manner by an independent body, that there is no institutional or hierarchical relationship between that body’s investigators and suspected perpetrators of such acts and that the suspected perpetrators are duly tried and, if found guilty, are punished in a manner that is commensurate with the gravity of their acts;
- Ensure that the authorities launch investigations on their own initiative whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that an act of police brutality or excessive use of force has been committed; ...
- Ensure that alleged perpetrators of police brutality or excessive use of force are immediately suspended from duty for the duration of the investigation, particularly when there is a risk that they might otherwise be in a position to repeat the alleged act, to commit reprisals against the alleged victim or to obstruct the investigation, while also ensuring that the principle of presumption of innocence is observed.
Cabo Verde has not recognised the jurisdiction of the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights.
In its report for the 2018 Universal Periodic Review, Cabo Verde stated that: "The National Police registered 25 complaints of police violence submitted in 2016 (15 complaints in 2017, up to May). All complaints were investigated, and authors legally held responsible when considered guilty."