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Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Portugal

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 May 2012
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Portugal, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbe391728.html [accessed 18 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state: Aníbal António Cavaco Silva
Head of government: Pedro Manuel Mamede Passos Coelho (replaced José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa in June)
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 10.7 million
Life expectancy: 79.5 years
Under-5 mortality: 3.7 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 94.9 per cent

There was little accountability for torture and other ill-treatment. Roma were discriminated against in access to housing. Domestic violence remained a serious concern.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In February, a video showing prison guards using a dart-firing stun gun against an inmate in Paços de Ferreira prison in September 2010, allegedly to force him to clean his cell, was broadcast on the internet. The man appeared to offer no resistance. In April, the Minister of Justice issued a decree forbidding the use of stun guns in similar circumstances. An inquiry by the Audit and Inspection services of the General Directorate for prisons was pending at the end of the year.

In March, the Court of Appeal of Evora confirmed an earlier ruling that Leonor Cipriano had been tortured while in police custody in 2004, but that it could not identify those responsible. Leonor Cipriano had yet to receive compensation from the state. Gonçalo de Sousa Amaral and António Fernandes Nuno Cardoso, senior officials in the judicial police, had been sentenced to 18 months' and 27 months' imprisonment respectively, for falsely claiming Leonor Cipriano had fallen down the stairs. However, both sentences were suspended on the grounds that the officers had no previous criminal convictions.

Hearings in the trial of three police officers, accused of torturing Virgolino Borges while in police custody in March 2000, took place in November and December. Virgolino Borges was asked to give his testimony again as the recording had allegedly been lost due to technical problems.

Housing rights

Roma continued to be denied the right to adequate housing. In November, the European Committee of Social Rights adopted a decision in European Roma Rights Centre v. Portugal that the housing situation of Roma in Portugal constituted a breach of the right to housing and to non-discrimination. The Committee found that many Roma lived in precarious housing conditions, segregated from the rest of the population, and that the government had failed to provide them with adequate housing.

  • The eviction of a settlement in Bairro da Torre in Loures, near Lisbon was due to take place on 18 October but the Loures municipality suspended it. The settlement was home to 86 families, including Roma and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. A notice of the eviction had been sent in March, but no alternative accommodation was offered. A process granting new houses to some households, including people with disabilities, was initiated. The eviction order was still pending at the end of the year.

Violence against women and girls

Domestic violence continued to be a serious concern. In May, the government signed the Council of Europe's Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. According to the Domestic Violence Monitoring Report of the Directorate General of Internal Administration, in August, 14,508 complaints of domestic violence had been received by the police and the gendarmerie in 2011. As of 11 November, the NGO UMAR had registered 23 deaths, and 39 attempted homicides as a result of domestic violence, since the beginning of the year.

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