Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2017, 15:40 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Portugal

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 24 February 2016
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2015/16 - Portugal, 24 February 2016, available at: [accessed 12 December 2017]
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
Head of government: António Costa (replaced Pedro Manuel Mamede Passos Coelho in November)

Roma and people of African descent continued to face discrimination. There were further reports of excessive use of force by police and prison conditions remained inadequate.


Following a visit in January, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers expressed concern that rising court and legal fees were obstructing access to justice for more people living in poverty as a result of the economic crisis. The Constitutional Court ruled that some austerity measures affecting economic and social rights were unconstitutional.


There were reports of unnecessary or excessive use of force by police and prison conditions remained inadequate.

In May, a police officer was filmed beating a man in front of his two children and father outside the Guimarães football stadium. The footage shows a police officer pushing a seemingly peaceful football fan to the ground and hitting him several times with a baton while his children are restrained. The same officer can also be seen punching the man's father in the face twice as he intervenes to stop the beating. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the officer was given a 90-day suspension from duty, pending disciplinary proceedings.


Only 39 of the 44 refugees previously selected for resettlement in Portugal in 2014, and none of those selected for resettlement in 2015, had arrived in the country by the end of the year. Portugal further committed to receive 4,574 asylum-seekers to be relocated from Italy and Greece under the EU relocation programme within the following two years. However, only 24 people had been relocated by the end of the year.

According to the Portuguese Refugee Council, the reception centre for refugees in the capital Lisbon remained overcrowded.



Discrimination against Roma continued to be reported in several municipalities.

In July, the Mayor of Estremoz barred Roma living in the Quintinhas neighbourhood from using municipal swimming pools following reported acts of vandalism by a number of its residents. The decision was challenged by the Commission for Equality and against Racial Discrimination and a ruling was pending at the end of the year.

People of African descent

Racially motivated abuse and unnecessary use of force by police against people of African descent continued to be reported.

In February, five young men of African descent reported having been beaten and subjected to racist comments by police officers in the Alfragide police station, after complaining about excessive use of force during an arrest in the Alto da Cova da Moura neighbourhood earlier the same day. They received medical treatment for injuries sustained and were charged with resistance and coercion of an officer. Investigations into their allegations of ill-treatment were ongoing at the end of the year.


In December, new legislation was adopted giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children.


According to data provided by the NGO UMAR, as of 20 November, 27 women had been killed, and there were also 33 attempted murders, particularly by people with whom the women maintained intimate relationships.

In July, a study by the New University of Lisbon estimated that 1,830 girls residing in Portugal had been subjected to, or were at risk of, female genital mutilation (FGM). New legislation entered into force in September, introducing FGM as a specific crime in the Penal Code.

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