Brussels - 15 June 2020
Human rights and democracy in the world: Council approves 2019 EU annual report
The Council today approved the 2019 EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world.
The report marks the final phase of implementation of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019) and confirms that in 2019 the EU demonstrated once more its commitment to protect, support and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.
However, in many parts of the world, challenges remain. Human rights defenders, journalists and media workers are under threat and attack because of their daily work, civic and democratic space continues to be restricted, women’s and girls’ human rights are being violated, and vulnerable groups are often left behind and exposed to further discrimination and inequality.
In 2019 the international community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, and the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization.
These anniversaries and challenges gave great impetus to the EU’s continuous efforts to translate its legal and policy frameworks on human rights into reality. As a result, on 9 December 2019 the Foreign Affairs Council agreed on the need to work on a possible EU global human rights sanctions regime to tackle serious human rights violations worldwide committed by state and non-state actors.
In 2019 the EU remained a leader in the universal promotion and protection of human rights at multilateral level and continued to support human rights, democracy, the rule of law and gender equality in all relevant fora, including the UN Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. The EU also supported the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, specialised UN agencies, and other organisations within the UN system, such as the International Labour Organization.
EU ANNUAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD
2019 COUNTRY UPDATES
1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Cabo Verde remained in 2019 one of the countries with the best records on human rights and democratic governance in Africa thanks to stable political institutions, a functioning multiparty parliamentary democracy, and a strong legal framework that recognises and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The judiciary however continued to emerge as the one constitutional branch that is in clear need of reform, as well as a strengthening of capacities. It is overburdened by a large caseload and notoriously slow. Several convictions in high-profile drug trafficking cases were successfully appealed because the rights of non-Cabo Verdean defendants had not been fully respected (no interpreters provided). The case against the Spanish-owned airline Binter CV and one of its non-Cabo Verdean pilots in November 2019, albeit probably exceptional, raised serious questions about the capacity and independence of judges, as well as national bias.
Further determined efforts and improvements are also needed in the fight against violence and discrimination against women, violations of the rights of the child including child labour, and prison conditions.
Cabo Verde continues to demonstrate political will to address these concerns and on some made significant progress in 2019. A Gender Equality Law (Lei de paridade) was adopted by Parliament on 28 October 2019 with the necessary constitutional majority. The law is intended to strengthen gender equality (min. 40%) for electoral lists to national and local parliaments, elected magistrates, and management positions in public service and state-owned companies. Actual impact remains to be seen however. With this law Cabo Verde became one of three African countries to have established quotas for women´s political participation.
The implementation of national policies and strategies in a number of human rights domains continued throughout 2019. Examples include the National Plan to Fight Sexual Violence against Children and Adolescents 2017-2019 or the National Plan (2018-2023) for Human Rights and Citizenship. The Cabo Verdean authorities continued work on a National Action Plan for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labour and the establishment of the National Committee for the Prevention of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, as well as work on a National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and other measures to repress human trafficking, with a particular focus on women, children and migrants.
2. EU action-key focus areas: In 2019, the shared respect for and promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance remained a basis for the EU-Cabo Verde Special Partnership. The partners continued to hold a regular political dialogue on the consolidation of democracy and human rights in this context, and in particular on women's rights and people with disabilities, as priorities outlined in the EU Human Rights and Democratic Country Strategy of 2016 and the Gender Action Plan (GAP) for Cabo Verde for 2016-2020.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: In December 2019 following a call for proposals, five new NSA/LA contracts were signed that will cover human rights of arrested juveniles, children with disabilities, gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual tourism. The EU also continued to monitor the ratification and effective implementation of 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, environmental protection and climate change and good governance under the EU GSP+ from which Cabo Verde is a beneficiary. An assessment of the state of compliance by Cabo Verde with GSP+ Obligations was made by the EU in 2018. The assessment recognised positive efforts in the implementation and reporting on the 27 conventions, but also pointed out a number of issues on which more efforts are needed.
4. EU financial engagement: The EU delegation payed particular attention to gender issues in Cabo Verde defined as one of our cooperation priorities supported through Budget Support. In the framework of the mid-term review, which entails a top-up of EUR 10 million, gender issues were established as one of three budget support indicators. Through this instrument the EU has been able to carry out interventions in the 3 thematic domains of the GAP II – (i) physical and psychological integrity, (ii) social and economic empowerment and rights, and (iii) voice and participation. The gender indicator includes the implementation of the Law against GBV, including the operationalisation of a fund to support the victims; the implementation of the National Care Plan as well as the submission to Parliament of the Gender Equality Law. The EU also supports the institutional reinforcement of the Cabo Verdean Institute for Gender Equality ICIEG.
Through an EU/PALOP-TL project, the EU has continued to support a Gender–responsive budget. The 2020 state budget law again includes a chapter on gender responsive budgeting with projects already marked with a specific gender marker.
The EU continued to fund under the CSO/LA budget line sixteen projects contributing to the improvement of the rights of women, in particular in rural and remote areas and to promote the empowerment and improve the economic situation of vulnerable groups, children and people with disabilities, as well as the reinforcement of civil society, in general. Other projects involve working with youth and local authorities in various problematic urban areas. In December 2019 following a call for proposals, five new NSA/LA contracts were signed that will cover human rights of arrested juveniles, children with disabilities, GBV and sexual tourism.
Under the EIDHR, in order to promote physical and psychological integrity, social and economic empowerment, to raise the voice and participation of women and girls, and contribute to the effective guarantee of women’s rights in Cabo Verde, the EU supports a project in the area of formalisation of domestic service with the Cabo Verdean Association to Fight Gender-Based Violence.
In the context of GSP+, several projects were under implementation in 2019 that support the National Human Rights Commission to comply with reporting obligations on the human-rights treaties ratified by Cabo Verde and supporting, as well as empowering civil society and social partners to monitor and advocate for improved implementation of core international human rights conventions. The EU continued to provide technical support to the Ministry of Justice and Labour in order to meet its reporting obligations concerning human rights conventions and international labour standards.
5. Multilateral context: Cabo Verde has ratified most international and regional human rights instruments, and ensures their implementation and enforcement in a generally effective manner.