Freedom in the World
Political Rights: 37 / 40 [Key]
Civil Liberties: 53 / 60
In 2015, Cape Verde saw growing tensions between political parties in anticipation of 2016 general elections. Nevertheless, the main political forces came together in early 2015 to select new members of several official bodies, including a newly established Constitutional Court, and the National Election Commission (CNE). In May, the National Assembly approved a bill introducing a local referendum system; lawmakers from the governing African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), the opposition Movement for Democracy (MpD), and other parties praised the measure for permitting more direct participation of local communities in political processes. Separately, in April, President Jorge Carlos Fonseca vetoed a bill that would have increased public officials’ salaries by 65 percent. The measure, which lawmakers approved as Cape Verde continued to struggle with high unemployment, had prompted large popular protests.
Cape Verde has relatively low levels of government corruption. However, in 2015 MpD members alleged that several ministries had misappropriated government subsidies and grants. In November, Prime Minister José Maria Neves announced that officials were investigating the allegations. In December, Attorney General António Pedro Lopes noted that gaps in the country’s laws that could allow some forms of corruption to go unpunished. Freedom of the press is guaranteed by law and generally respected in practice, but in October the Cape Verde Journalists’ Association (AJOC) criticized an article of the electoral code that banned media outlets from spreading information deemed to be propaganda.
While Cape Verde’s judiciary is independent, the capacity and efficiency of the courts are limited. After long delays, the Constitutional Court was established in October 2015. In parallel, the Supreme Court was restructured, as it no longer needed to perform the duties of a Constitutional Court. The criminal justice system is impeded by a lack of resources and poor coordination among relevant government entities. In April, Defense Minister Rui Semedo expressed concern that Cape Verde lacked resources to adequately address growing piracy and drug, human, and arms trafficking on its shores.
While discrimination based on gender is prohibited by law, wage discrimination and unequal access to education persist. In April 2015, the Network of Women Parliamentarians Cape Verde (RMP-CV) proposed that at least 1 percent of all ministries’ budgets be used to implement the National Plan for Gender Equality and Equity, which despite having been officially launched was not awarded any funding in the 2015 budget.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2016. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Cape Verde, see Freedom in the World 2015.
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year