Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2007 - Portugal

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 23 May 2007
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2007 - Portugal , 23 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46558ede2.html [accessed 20 December 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.

PORTUGUESE REPUBLIC

Head of state: Aníbal António Cavaco Silva (replaced Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio in March)
Head of government: José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified


Incidents of police ill-treatment and fatal shootings continued to be reported. Training in the use of firearms by police officers remained inadequate. Overcrowding, poor hygiene and lack of resources in prisons increased concerns about substandard conditions. Reform of the penal code to extend the definition of domestic violence to include unmarried and same-sex couples was proposed in April. Violence in the home remained pervasive. Insufficient resources hampered efforts by the national Commission for Equality and against Racial Discrimination to deal with continuing incidents of racism.

Fatal shootings

At least six people died as a result of lethal force by police during 2006, again raising long-standing concerns about the possibly unnecessary or disproportionate use of force. Police trade union leaders have blamed inadequate training for such killings. Officers also lacked sufficient guidelines on use of weapons.

  • On 3 October, one man was killed and another gravely injured during a police chase of a car carrying four young men in Porto. A police officer fired five shots at the vehicle, allegedly aiming for the tyres but killing one occupant and injuring another. After the vehicle came to a halt, the survivors, including the seriously injured man, were reportedly assaulted by the police although they had surrendered themselves. The case was under investigation by the Homicide Brigade of the Porto Judicial Police. The General Inspectorate of Internal Administration also opened an inquiry. The driver of the vehicle was charged with disobeying police orders and dangerous driving.

Overcrowded prisons

According to the Directorate General of Prison Services in May, 70 per cent of prisons were operating over their intended capacity and three of them – Portimão, Angra do Heroísmo and Guimarães – at more than double the designated number of prisoners. Overcrowding reduced the resources available for each prisoner and exacerbated poor hygiene conditions and the transmission of infectious diseases. Of a total of 91 prisoners' deaths in 2006, 74 were from illness, 14 were suicides and three were recorded as homicide.

In June Minister of Justice Alberto Costa announced government plans to close 22 prisons and enlarge others, increasing total capacity from 12,000 to 14,500 places. Most of the prisons were scheduled to close over the next three years, raising concerns about the impact on conditions in remaining prisons.

Violence against women

Of all violent incidents reported to the Portuguese Association of Victim Support, 86 per cent related to domestic violence. Many were not reported to the police. Under-reporting hampered justice in individual cases and also impeded efforts to tackle domestic violence across society by hiding its full extent and nature. Thirty-nine women died as a result of domestic violence between November 2005 and November 2006.

Reforms to the penal code proposed in April included defining domestic violence to include ill-treatment between unmarried, same-sex and former couples, as well as abuse between parents and children. If the violence takes place within the family home, this will be considered an aggravating factor.

Racism

Incidents of racist discrimination continued to be reported nationwide. The Commission for Equality and Against Racial Discrimination reported that in the previous six years it had received 190 complaints. Of these, only two had resulted in a fine and 60 cases were still pending. Insufficient resources resulted in cases taking two or three years to resolve, and many were shelved for lack of evidence, contributing to impunity for acts of racism.

Rights of migrants

An immigration law passed in August included measures to provide residence permits to victims of trafficking. However, such permits would be available only to those who collaborated with the police, risking undue pressure being brought on victims at risk of reprisals.

AI country reports/visits

Report

  • Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International's concerns in the region, January-June 2006 (AI Index: EUR 01/017/2006)

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