Cape Verde One of Rare African Countries to Have Achieved All Global Development Goals; Maintains Open Society, with Free Press, Human Rights Committee Told
Cape Verde One of Rare African Countries to Have Achieved All Global Development Goals; Maintains Open Society, with Free Press, Human Rights Committee Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Human Rights Committee
2877th Meeting* (AM)
Cape Verde One of Rare African Countries to Have Achieved All Global Development
Goals; Maintains Open Society, with Free Press, Human Rights Committee Told
Delegation Appears in Absence of Report; Experts Say Failure to Report Covenant
Violation, Pose Questions on Corporal Punishment, Sexual Abuse, Gender Equality
“Cape Verde was one of the rare African countries to have achieved all the Millennium Development Goals,” Antonio Pedro Monteiro Lima, Permanent Representative of Cape Verde, emphasized today, as he updated the Human Rights Committee on the situation in the country, in the absence of a State report.
Cape Verde had nothing to hide, he said to the Human Rights Committee, the 18-member expert body that monitors global implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country acceded to in 1992. Rather, the country lacked the capacity and human resources to draft the report, as it was focusing on such issues as education, land, justice and politics.
On the contrary, it was a very open society, he said. The percentage of poor people in the population had dropped from 46 per cent in the 1970s to 24 per cent today, a success achieved without resources such as diamonds, oil or gold, and despite the ravages of climate change, desertification and drought. That level of democratic development was an indicator of “good education, trust in the judiciary and significant economic and financial progress”.
Moreover, Cape Verde was among a small number of countries where there was no large-scale corruption, he said, and political life took place in a civilized manner. Elections were not plagued by bloodshed and the judiciary was independent. A study had ranked Cape Verde among the world’s top countries for freedom of the press, a sensitive barometer for human rights.
Noting that the failure to present a report was itself already a violation of the obligations of the Covenant, the Committee used a list of issues to ask questions of the representative, highlighting reports of violence against children, whether in the case of police brutality against juveniles, corporal punishment at school and home, and sexual abuse. The Committee also requested specific information and statistics about measures to improve gender equality.
Nigel Rodley, expert from the United Kingdom, stated that police brutality seemed to have become accepted as a form of extra-judicial punishment for juveniles, gang members and street children. The law provided for detainees to receive immediate access to lawyers. But “how immediate was immediate,” especially in the light of the alleged ill-treatment of young people in police stations? He was also concerned about corporal punishment in schools and home. Was there any need of legislation, or was it a problem of enforcement?
Cornelius Flinterman, expert from the Netherlands, said that the Committee had been informed that the sexual abuse of children was very widespread in Cape Verde. More information was also necessary on the impact of tourism on the sexual abuse of children. Echoing the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, who had expressed concern about the patriarchal values that were deeply rooted in Cape Verde, he asked about the specific measures taken to encourage men to take up responsibilities within the family. The Government had established the gender equality and equity plan in 2005 — what was the outcome of the plan and, while it focused on State-owned companies, was it also relevant in private companies?
In response, Mr. Lima stated that organized crime had entered West Africa and had significantly impacted Cape Verde, especially drug trafficking. Cape Verde was an archipelago and it was extremely difficult to monitor the entire territory. “Organized crime is more organized than Cape Verdean society,” he said and criminal rings with more weapons and money than the Government were recruiting children to act as mules for transporting drugs. Recalling the “little thugs with pistols”, aged between 12 and 17 years, who had entered his neighbour’s house, he said that the Government had initiated a dialogue with young people to bring them back into society. There were “isolated cases in which police beat children”, but they had been followed up by lawyers. While the judicial arsenal was a bit weak, since independence, all citizens had recourse to a lawyer, he said. Delays occurred because the judiciary was rather sparse.
Sexual abuse was absolutely condemned by Cape Verdean society, he said. It was unacceptable, but unfortunately it happened and, while no statistics were available, more complaints were being filed now.
Sharing that his own child had been the subject of corporal punishment, Mr. Lima said that, while there were some teachers who sidestepped the law, the State did not approve of such acts. Parents associations had tried to bring an end to it. As for excessive punishment within the family, the psychological impact of colonialism and slavery for over 500 years had resulted in the problem of alcoholism, which led to violence in the family. The Government was working to combat alcoholism, as well as teaching that men and women were equal before the law in every respect.
The gender proportions in parliamentary representation were not satisfactory, he acknowledged. There was “a progressive evolution” in society, and women could not be expected to show up overnight to run a campaign and win the elections. But, there were no obstacles in terms of the constitutional framework. In 2009 and 2010, there were more girls in schools than boys, he added. Regarding women in workplaces, there was a general convergence towards gender equality in both public and private sectors.
“We were a nation before we became a State,” he quoted one of the nation’s leaders. Cape Verde was moving faster than other societies, because it did not have religious or ethnic differences. Today, it was a country that wanted to be responsible and was going in the right direction. He concluded by emphasizing that in its short span of 36 years as an independent country, Cape Verde had accomplished much and assured the Committee that the country would submit its report as soon as possible.
The Human Rights Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. Thursday, 22 March, to discuss its working methods.
The Human Rights Committee, the 18-member expert body that monitors global implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, continued its 104th session today, with discussion of the situation in Cape Verde in the absence of an initial periodic report.
Delegation’s Opening Remarks
ANTONIO PEDRO MONTEIRO LIMA, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Cape Verde, said the process that brought him here today had been a long one, dating back to 1996. Cape Verde had not yet presented its initial report to the Committee. In October 2011, the Committee had sent a request and Cape Verde had promised to send a report, but the process of engaging experts and drafting a document had been a long one. In response to a second, last-minute request from the Committee, the State had said it was not yet ready to supply the report.
“I’m not here to answer questions based on a written document, but I believe I’ve understood that Cape Verde has written a report,” he said, which reflected the views of non-governmental organizations and the National Commission for Human Rights, which itself was an independent body not under the auspices of the justice system. He did not have a mandate to answer questions about a document he did not possess, but assured the Committee it would receive a report “sooner rather than later”.
As to why it had taken so long to produce a report, he said: “It is not at all about fear about drafting a report.” He was convinced that Cape Verde’s success in civil and social rights would be reflected in the report. Rather, the country lacked the capacity and human resources. Very few people were able to give their exclusive attention to just one area. They were focusing on many issues, such as education, land, justice and politics.
“The absence of a report does not mean Cape Verde has anything to hide,” he said. Cape Verde was a very open society and had been recognized for combating poverty and protecting human rights. It had made huge strides in those areas. Information provided by non-governmental organizations offered proof that the country had “done its work” in the area of human rights.
He assured the Committee that, through the years, Cape Verde had taken action, “which speaks for itself”, citing one study showing it ranked among the world’s top countries for freedom of the press, a sensitive barometer for human rights. Other gains had been made in consolidating democracy and justice. The percentage of poor people in the population had dropped from 46 per cent in the 1970s to 24 per cent today — successes achieved without such resources as diamonds, oil or gold, and despite the ravages of climate change, desertification and drought. All human rights had advanced, including the right to dignity and a sound economic life, the minimum required of any country.
Moreover, Cape Verde was among a small number of countries where there was no large-scale corruption, he said, and political life took place in a civilized manner. There were no major fears of bloodshed that plagued some elections. The judiciary was independent and sought to provide investors with assurances that their life and property would be safe. The Government had taken the “precaution” of providing various statistics and reports to the United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions. He could not speak at great length about the rights to privacy, equality and universal suffrage, but all such gains gave an overview of a modern Cape Verde.
“For me, it’s not about defending anything that’s indefensible,” he said. He was here today to represent a State that, through various political phases over 36 years, had combated the negative aspects of its culture. It had identified what was important: education, health and justice for all. It was one of the rare African countries to have achieved all the Millennium Development Goals, which showed it was heading in the right direction in terms of political and economic governance. Those efforts were now bearing fruit.
“You don’t reach that stage of democratic development without good education, trust in the judiciary and significant economic and financial progress,” he said. Cape Verde had withstood the recent economic crisis, because it had been able to plan. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was growing. The per capita income had risen from $200 per person in the 1970s to more than $3,000 per person in 2007, and because of that success, politicians were trusted. “The mindset has changed,” he said. “People do not think in a negative manner about the State.” With that, he hoped he had convinced the Committee that Cape Verde was a nation that was developing its potential.
Comments and Questions by the Committee
NIGEL RODLEY, expert from the United Kingdom, stated that he was glad the State party was represented at the meeting and that rule 70 of the Rules of Procedure had been introduced in 2001, whereby the committee allowed itself to have hearings when the report of the State party was overdue. One of the obligations of article 40 of the Covenant was to submit the report. The failure to present a report was itself already a violation of the obligations of the Covenant. He did not wish to flagellate the ambassador, but it was necessary to make clear where the Committee was coming from. The Committee had been told that limited resources was one of the reasons for not submitting the report, but the State party had produced reports for the Committee on Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and so forth — all of them late, too, but they had been produced.
Then again, he added, the State Party had not produced a report for the Universal Periodic Review in the Human Rights Council. So, it was not just the Human Rights Committee that was being discriminated against. The purpose of rule 70 was to not have a hearing like this, he emphasized. It was to encourage the State party to come up with the report.
In the absence of a report, “the second prize” was to get a response to the list of issues. Some State parties had come with a written response to the list of issues, but that also was not available in the case of Cape Verde. When the Committee met to make its concluding observations, it could take into consideration what the Ambassador had said about the report being under way. Having a delegation at the meeting was the least to be done and, therefore, the Committee was grateful for the presence of the Ambassador.
Further, he realized that the alternate report from civil society was partially prepared by the national commission for human rights. Normally, that was not considered civil society. That explained why so much of the response read as though it were an official report from a State party. Much of it was concerned with legislation and that also explained why there seemed to be inconsistencies between what the Committee had been told orally by representatives of organizations that had signed the document, and what was in the document.
It was hard to see why the State party would have anything to fear by submitting a report, he added. No State was perfect, but it was clear that Cape Verde was a very open State, and evidently a democracy with political parties competing in genuinely contested elections.
He went on to ask various questions relating to the list of issues. It seemed that the constitution incorporated treaties ratified by the State Party, as well as general and customary international law. The constitution itself had control over most matters, but, short of that, the international law was the law of the land. That was the position taken by the Minister of Justice before the Universal Periodic Review. However, the State Party was not good at pulling together information and providing statistics. It would be interesting to know the extent to which there was training in the State party for lawyers, judges and prosecutors in international human rights, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As regards remedies, it seemed that the public prosecutor was a potential remedy, as was the national human rights commission. Legal aid was also provided. However, there seemed to be a problem of delay in the provision of justice. Trials were not held rapidly enough, and enquiries into alleged violations did not take place in time. In some cases, the enquiries did not give rise to any results. It would be interesting to know if the State Party accepted problems of delay in the judicial system.
Regarding issue 3, what steps were taken to ensure that the national commission for human rights was in line with the Paris Principles, which set forth guidelines for the status and functioning of national human rights institutions? During the Review, there had been recommendations that the commission should be brought in line with the Paris Principles. The delegation’s response was that the necessary measures would be taken as soon as possible. It was now three years since the Universal Periodic Review and it would be interesting to hear about new developments. Was the president of the commission still appointed by the executive? Did the commission have financial independence?
Moving on to issue 9, there seemed to be an inconsistent approach. The Committee was told by professionally qualified non-governmental organizations that police brutality was a common problem, especially in relation to juveniles, gang members and street children, notably as a means of extra-judicial punishment. The general population seemed to have accepted that manner of punishment, as a result of insecurity about those young people. The Committee had also been told that the complaints made to the public prosecutor or the human rights commission rarely resulted in enquiries.
He also expected the State party to provide concrete information — statistics and real examples — about when there had been enquiries into alleged police brutality and the results of that enquiry, including disciplinary proceedings, as well as compensation paid to the victims.
On the issue of corporal punishment, corporal punishment seemed to take place systematically and routinely in schools, with teachers even getting other pupils to inflict it. There also seemed to be corporal punishment at home, but it was not clear how excessive it was. Still, it was much more serious when it happened in schools, especially public schools. The Committee was interested in hearing about measures taken to curb it. Was there any need for legislation, or was it a problem of enforcement?
On issue 11, the Minister of Justice herself had acknowledged at the Universal Periodic Review that Cape Verde was being used as a transit point for human trafficking. Could the Ambassador provide any more information about that?
Grouping together issues 12 through 14, it seemed that the law provided for detainees to be presented in court after initial detention within 48 hours, he said. The Committee had not been told that that rule was not respected — that was a good sign. However, when it came to provision of lawyers, it was not clear whether the access was immediate. That was an important safeguard. How immediate, exactly, was “immediate”, especially in light of the allegation of ill-treatment of young people in police stations?
Habeas corpus was available and the Committee was pleased to note that habeas corpus could be initiated by any citizen, not just the individual in question who obviously was not in a position to do so. He wished for more detailed information about those very important safeguards against arbitrary arrest and abusive treatment.
There was also the question of lengthy pre-trial detention. Apparently, there was a dispute between different courts as to what the law was regarding pre-trial detention. Some had interpreted it broadly and others more narrowly, as a result of which detainees facing identical charges were held for different lengths of time. Also, the Committee would like more information on prison conditions. It had been reported that prisoners at the pre-trial stage were not separated by gender and age. What measures were being taken to prevent the problem of overcrowding? It was no secret that the United States State Department’s report had said that prison authorities in Cape Verde did not permit detainees to complain and that the Government did not monitor prison conditions. Two new facilities were being built — would those prisons contribute to easing the overcrowding issue?
Finally, on the questions of fair trial and equality before courts, it was clear that the law of the country provided for legal assistance. Nevertheless, non-governmental organizations had indicated that resources must be made available in order to receive properly remunerated legal assistance. Could the State party provide clarifications on that point?
In response, Mr. LIMA said he could not respond to all the questions posed, but by way of background, said he had lived through the “liberation struggle” and the development period which followed, during the 35-odd years of independence. Cape Verde would do its utmost to make the report available in the very near future. The exchanges between the Committee and Cape Verdean authorities had made the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice aware of the urgent need to respond appropriately.
“I’m really, really sorry I can’t live up to your expectations” in answering the questions asked, he said. Referring to a report produced by the National Commission for Human Rights and submitted to the Committee, he said there were some inconsistencies. That report discussed the impact of the law on Cape Verdean society. The information it contained had been useful for him too, as he was not up to date with legal developments. There were contradictions, but the Ministry of Justice had assured him it would submit its report and that care would be taken to ensure there was no discrepancy between the law and what happened on the ground.
Turning to the Covenant, he said there had not been much cause to invoke that instrument. Cape Verde always had worked to ensure that what was done in the legal and political arenas was in line with respect for human rights. It had always sought to be guided in that direction. While he could not say that all departments operated in an “exemplary” fashion, or that police operated with same respect for human rights as a jurist or a judge, he could say that training was provided to the police, and that information was conveyed by non-governmental organizations.
On other matters, he said Cape Verde’s society was “rising up” against thugs who had created a threat to peace and calm in the county. By way of example, he recalled that his neighbour’s house recently had been invaded by “little thugs with pistols”, who were aged between 12 and 17 years. At the national level, the Government had initiated a dialogue with young people that allowed them to be brought back into society.
More broadly, he said that organized crime had entered West Africa and had significantly impacted Cape Verde, especially drug trafficking. Cape Verde was an archipelago and it was extremely difficult to monitor the entire territory. Hydro-aircrafts often landed on islands where there were fewer people than sand dunes for hiding drugs. Indeed, there had been a veritable onslaught of organized crime.
As for State action, the police and army could now operate together to combat that behaviour, he said, and the law had been amended to allow night searches. Cape Verde also had asked its neighbours — including Spain and Portugal — to monitor its air and sea space. “Organized crime is more organized than Cape Verdean society,” he said. Those rings had more weapons and money than the Government, and were recruiting children to act as mules for transporting drugs. It had been a concern of successive Governments. An Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting recently had been held in Cape Verde to tackle the problem. The entire subregion had been assaulted by organized crime.
He went on to say that resources which would normally be used for training were now being used to battle organized crime. Society was exasperated, because the police were going beyond what they should be doing. “These are children I personally know,” he said. There were isolated cases in which police beat children. They had been followed up by lawyers. While the judicial arsenal was a bit weak, people seeking a lawyer always had access to one. The State did not want people to think it allowed torture or degrading treatment. “It doesn’t want to be seen that way,” he said.
Since independence, all citizens had recourse to a lawyer, he said. Delays occurred because the judiciary was rather sparse. There were not enough judges and trials were lengthy. Cape Verde had inherited the Portuguese judicial system and it moved “rather slowly”. Efforts were being made, however, to shorten the time between when the complaint was made and the trial. Judges were independent, which sometimes created problems for the police, as judges sometimes tried to throw out cases because of a procedural flaw. There was a general feeling that jurists tried to do their best. After independence, a group of lawyers organized themselves to help people who could not afford legal services.
As to complaints made to the Prosecutor’s office, he was not familiar with the legal “niceties” in his country. He could say that the State was not in any way trying to twist the law and prevent anyone from having access to the Prosecutor’s office. Regarding corporal punishment, it was not a State regulation. Providing an example, Mr. LIMA said his child had had an experience with a teacher, who was “a bit crazy”, and he felt that the teacher’s behaviour constituted torture for a child. Indeed, there were some teachers who sidestepped the law, but the State did not approve of such acts. Parents associations had tried to bring an end to it.
Turning to excessive punishment within the family, he said the Government was working to combat alcoholism. Cape Verdean society had been built on colonialism and slavery for over 500 years, which had had certain psychological impacts. Within the family, that history often lingered and usually it was the male in the family who turned to alcoholism. There was violence in the family because of that. To address that issue, the Government taught that men and women were equal before the law in every respect. The State legislature comprised eight women and seven men — a fact that helped people change their mindsets. Increasingly, women were in charge of institutions and involved in politics. “A woman doesn’t have to stand behind a man for everything,” he said.
To the question on preventive detention centres, he said that while Cape Verde had become a middle-income country in 2008, that did not mean it had enough money for preventive detention centres. Rather, there were rooms in police stations. As for prisoner complaints, he was not saying it did not happen that police acted against people who made complaints. Last year, Cape Verde had ratified about 12 protocols, including the one relating to torture. The prison population was increasingly composed of young thugs involved in drug trafficking.
To other questions, he said civil servants often felt they were not properly remunerated, but the country had a certain margin of manoeuvre. The State budget had been frozen this year and Cape Verde sometimes had to cope with very limited resources.
“We realize there is still an enormous amount to be done,” he said. But Cape Verdeans today were aware of and understood their rights, an extraordinary change since 1975 and independence. University students today did not have the same mindset he remembered in his younger years.
Comments and Questions
CORNELIS FLINTERMAN, expert from the Netherlands, stated that the Committee was pleased that the Constitution of Cape Verde reflected article 4 of the Covenant, to a large extent. The Committee wished to know if the powers of emergency had been exercised in the country, and under what conditions, since the Government came into existence. Also, the Constitution did not meet the Covenant requests an article 8, which related to prohibition of slavery. Article 8 also stated that no one may be imprisoned because they did not fulfil a contractual obligation. Would the State party to consider amending the constitution to comply with article 8 of the Covenant?
There were also obligations flowing from the Covenant regarding adoption of measures to combat terrorism. Human rights should be respected in the struggle against terrorism. Within the legal system of Cape Verde, he asked, did a counter-terrorism law exist and was the law compatible with the provisions of the Covenant?
Issue 6 related to some of the overarching obligations under the Covenant with regard to the principles of equality and non-discrimination, Mr. Flinterman said. Could the Ambassador provide any information on the measures adopted in Cape Verde to accelerate the equality of all people? He had already touched on that by referring to the number of female ministers. But, the number of women in representative bodies was still very low.
Issue 7 related to article 3 of the Covenant and equality of men and women. Referring to the national gender equality and equity plan adopted in 2005 and terminated in 2009, the Committee was interested in the outcome of the plan and to know whether the plan was extended. The Committee would also like to receive statistical data on role of women in workplaces, as well as such disaggregated data on the literacy rates of women and men and their access to higher education.
The sister treaty body of the Committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, had expressed concern in 2006 that there were still deeply rooted patriarchal values regarding the role of women in family and society. The Ambassador had indicated some changes, and the Committee was interested in any specific measures taken to encourage men to take up responsibilities within the family. He had been informed by non-governmental organizations that legislation was adopted in the field of labour and the field of media. What had been the impact of the new legislation and what monitoring mechanisms were in place to ensure that the legislation was being complied with? Also, what was being done to ensure the rights of women in sexual and reproductive health? Was the gender equality plan, which focused on State-owned companies, also relevant in private companies?
Regarding issues 19 and 20 on the list of issues, he stated, the Committee had received information about the widespread practice of sexual abuse of children. The Committee wished for more information on that particular issue and also on the impact of tourism on the sexual abuse of children. The Committee was also interested in steps taken to implement training programmes for teachers, police officers and child-care workers, on this subject.
Issue 20 referred to legislative and presidential elections in 2006 and the recommendations given by the national electoral commission. He asked if those recommendations were observed and what the Ambassadors’ observations were about the 2011 elections.
Ambassador LIMA began his Government’s response by stating that, as he did not have the state report and was not a jurist, it was rather difficult to account for some of the raised issues. Though he did not have the skills or knowledge, he would “paint a picture using his own personal knowledge”.
In Cape Verde, there were no cases of slavery, he stated. There might be cases of indentured servants perhaps, but the law protected children and slavery was prohibited. Cape Verde was a small State and he did not think it was possible there could be a situation of slavery in the country. No one could be imprisoned due to contractual obligations that were not complied with. The Constitution did not allow for that kind of incarceration.
With regard to the use of powers of emergency, to his knowledge, Cape Verde had never had a situation which necessitated the State limiting rights and declaring an emergency and he hoped it never would.
With regard to terrorism, he stated, there was no law on the books, but every time the United Nations asked Member States for help, Cape Verde had complied, voting for the General Assembly resolution against terrorism. The country was a member of the Ituri Pacification Commission and was fully prepared to help States sanction other States that were involved in terrorist activities. Cape Verde complied with international laws, but there were no domestic laws against terrorism, as there were no instances of terrorism in the country.
It was a constant of the law in Cape Verde, he added, was to promote gender equality and equity, so there was no problem there. Regarding the role of men and women in workplaces, a legal expert should answer the question. On the gender proportions in parliamentary representation, it was not satisfactory, and Cape Verde was aware of that. He wished to say this without being deemed “macho”, but there were instances of women in Cape Verde being “less inclined to get involved in political campaigns”. There was a progressive evolution in society and women could not be expected to show up overnight to run a campaign and win the elections.
In terms of the constitutional framework, there was no impediment, but there were still obstacles. In order for a woman to have a political career, it required help from her partner and family. Women in Cape Verde had not quite reached everything they deserved to reach, especially in parliamentary terms, but there was an increasing willingness to help them. For instance, when the Minister of Defence stepped down to take up the Ministry of Health, all the soldiers paid an extraordinary tribute to her. That was a sign of gradual progress.
Looking at literacy and education, there had been considerable progress, he said. In 2009 and 2010, there were more girls in schools than boys. However, to date, the success rate for women was a little lower than men. Patriarchal stereotypes still existed and 500 years of colonialism could not be wiped away in a single stroke. As for men assuming responsibility in families, the law favoured that, but evolution was very slow because of the fact that mindsets were difficult to change.
Cape Verde was moving faster than other societies where you might see religious and ethnic differences, he stressed. As one of the country’s leaders had put it, “we were a nation before we became a State.” Cape Verde was a melting pot of European and African culture and had managed to overcome many difficulties. Today it was a country that wanted to be responsible and was going in the right direction.
Regarding parity for women in public and private sectors, in the public sector, things were evolving favourably. In the private sector, there were other constraints. Generally speaking, there was a convergence towards gender equality in both sectors, but currently Cape Verde was emerging from the status of least developed nation to a middle-income country. There was less direct aid and more reliance on investment.
Turning to the question of sexual abuse, that was a situation absolutely condemned by Cape Verdean society, he said. It was unacceptable for children to be abused, but unfortunately it happened sometimes and there was recourse for the family. No statistics were available. Given the presence of television and changes in mentality, people were increasingly filing complaints.
As for the national commission on elections, he said, “I think those recommendations were followed.” The 2011 elections took place in a transparent and fair manner. If there were small claims lodged, they went to the Supreme Court who heard those cases. To date, there had not been any bloodshed, either during electoral campaigns or the elections themselves.
Expert Comments and Questions
Summing up the Committee’s observations, CHRISTINE CHANET, expert from France, said that when Cape Verde had come before the Universal Periodic Review with no report, several States had suggested it engage experts, perhaps from United Nations advisory services, to draw up a report. Cape Verde had not had similar problems reporting to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It might be useful to draw on those experts in preparing the report for the Human Rights Committee.
Nonetheless, from the “hybrid” text provided to the Committee by civil society, she said she had seen a number of guarantees for the judiciary’s independence, as required under the Covenant’s article 14. In Cape Verde’s future report, it would be useful to describe how the judiciary was comprised, and specifically discuss the nomination, remuneration and evaluation of judges. While Mr. LIMA had stated there was no corruption in Cape Verde, she believed there was a problem of legal and financial resources, as pre-trial detentions could be very drawn out. She asked that information on special courts for juvenile delinquents be included in the future report.
On the issue of persons with disabilities, she wondered about the situation on mental health. As to the statement that Cape Verde had complete freedom of the press, she said: “We don’t often come up against that situation,” and she wondered how that had come about. Was slander, for example, punished? On the rights of minorities, she requested more information on discrimination, as well as positive assistance for minorities to exercise their language and cultural rights.
Turning to protections for West African immigrants, she said there was no extradition law and asked for more information about extradition for immigrants. There was no immigration law either, and little information was available on protections provided to those persons, who were usually undocumented.
In that connection, she also asked about people killed between 2002 and 2005, and clashes between nationals from Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, with police and the military. Apparently, people had fled their own countries and continued their national conflicts in Cape Verde. She asked for more information on that situation.
Lastly, on the dissemination of information on the Covenant, she said the report would be a good opportunity for civil society to participate in that endeavour.
Responding, Mr. LIMA said he was happy to hear from Ms. CHANET that the Committee would not be “moralistic” towards Cape Verde. He understood the Committee provided an opportunity for countries to understand their responsibilities for complying with international legal instruments. The Government was resolved to submit its report as soon as possible.
On the judiciary, he said the problem of funding was a serious one. “It’s a matter of cash,” he said, adding that finances were well handled and that the Government had made provisions to get through the crisis. Cape Verde had not “dropped down to the bottom”, but it did have problems that affected the way justice was “meted out”. Sometimes justice was not speedy enough. There were no special tribunals. Laws on mental health had been drafted, but he did not know what they covered.
On freedom of the press, he clarified that he was not the one describing the situation, but rather international bodies were. One such body, whose name he could not recall, had given Cape Verde a very high ranking. Freedom of the press was a reality in his country. In other countries in the subregion, there might be problems, but he was not aware of any people who had been dragged before the courts because they had slandered anyone and newspapers were not charged because they did not show respect to a distinguished person.
As for minorities, he said that if immigrants stayed in Cape Verde they would be subject to its laws. He was not aware of any oppression of minorities. Tourism had increased the demand for labour and people from neighbouring countries came to Cape Verde for those jobs.
On the problem of West African nationals in Cape Verde, he disagreed that they were bringing their national conflicts. They had come looking for work and were basically peaceful. Many were Muslims, who had come as part of associations. Those groups often interacted with the State. It worked rather well. Some situations had arisen — the murder of a national from Guinea Bissau, for example — but one should not exaggerate. Many Chinese had come to Cape Verde 20 years ago and now were citizens. Many also had come from Portugal. The relative prosperity in Cape Verde meant that migrants arrived looking for jobs.
On the issue of extradition, he recalled one case in which Cape Verde had refused to extradite a person to another country. That country was upset for a while, but things had since settled down. He believed Cape Verde acted appropriately in applying its laws to those who might be subjected to different laws in their country of origin. He believed that, in that way, Cape Verde was protecting human rights. “We know there is an enormous amount of progress to be made,” he said. “Whenever we comply with international law on one point, then there are more challenges and rising expectations.” Thirty-six years of independence was not that long, but in that time, much had been accomplished. With that, he encouraged the Committee to visit Cape Verde for a holiday.
In closing, ZONKE ZANELE MAJODINA, expert from South Africa and Committee Chairperson, thanked Mr. LIMA for taking the time to appear before the Committee. Today’s proceedings had been held under rule 70 of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure, for examining countries without a report. The secretariat also had explained that procedure to his Government.
Indeed, the Committee had listened in good faith today and appreciated all the information provided. She hoped the report would be submitted in due course and was confident that Cape Verde would take the necessary measures to address the concerns expressed this morning. The Committee would adopt concluding observations from the discussion, which would be sent to Cape Verde shortly.
The Committee then continued its discussion of working methods, with experts commenting on proposals to improve case management and work flow.
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