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TITLE:  PORTUGAL HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            PORTUGAL


The Republic of Portugal is a parliamentary democracy with a 
President, a Prime Minister and a Legislative Assembly freely 
elected by secret ballot.

Internal security is primarily the responsibility of the 
Ministries of Justice and Internal Administration.  Security 
forces are controlled by, and responsive to, the Government.

Portugal has a market-based economy and is a member of the 
European Union.  An increasing proportion of the population is 
employed in services, while employment in agriculture continues 
to decline, and has been static or declining slightly in the 
industrial sector.

Citizens enjoy a broad range of civil and other human rights.  
Civil rights are outlined in the Constitution with specific 
reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  An 
Ombudsman, chosen by the Assembly of the Republic (legislature) 
to serve a 4-year term, is Portugal's chief civil and human 
rights officer.  Any citizen may apply to the Ombudsman for 
relief.  The Ombudsman receives about 3,000 complaints 
annually, most of them concerning cases of alleged 
maladministration by the bureaucracy or delays in the judicial 
process.  The principal human rights problem concerns credible, 
though limited, reports of beatings of detainees or prisoners 
by police or prison personnel.  The Government, criticized for 
being slow to investigate such reports, has dismissed or 
forcibly retired some officials found guilty of such abuse (see 
Section 1.c.).

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no known instances of government-sanctioned 
political or other extrajudicial killings.  No killings were 
attributed to any domestic terrorist groups.

     b.  Disappearance

Government or police authorities do not abduct, secretly 
arrest, or otherwise illegally detain persons.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution forbids torture, inhuman or degrading 
treatment or punishment, and the use of evidence obtained under 
torture in criminal proceedings.  The Ombudsman investigates 
complaints of mistreatment by police and prison authorities.

In 1994 the Government and Amnesty International (AI) continued 
their dialog on allegations of police brutality in Portugal.  
The AI annual report added three new allegations of police 
mistreatment of detainees.  Three previous AI cases were 
reported as apparently resolved by disciplinary action, 
although in some the disciplined agents were appealing the 
action.  AI and the U.N. Committee Against Torture lamented the 
delay in investigating such allegations.

In January a delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee 
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading 
Punishment (CPT) visited police and prison establishments in 
response to allegations of maltreatment of detainees and 
prisoners.  The CPT's report, issued in July, found the 
allegations to be corroborated.  It recommended corrective 
steps such as improving detainees' access to counsel and to 
medical treatment.  In response, the Government admitted to 
some problems with control and supervision of police officers; 
but it characterized the operation of the public security 
forces as positive overall, and said violations of citizens' 
rights by the security forces were "exceptional cases."  The 
Government established a continuing dialog with the CPT.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Under the law, an investigatve judge determines whether an 
arrested person should be detained, released on bail, or 
released outright.  Persons may not be held more than 48 hours 
without appearing before an investigating judge.  Investigative 
detention is limited to a maximum of 6 months for each 
suspected crime.  If a formal charge has not been filed within 
that period, the detainee must be released.  In cases of 
serious crimes (e.g., murder or armed robbery), or more than 
one suspect, investigative detention may be for up to 2 years 
and may be extended by a judge to 3 years in extraordinary 
circumstances.  A suspect in preventive detention must be 
brought to trial within 18 months of being formally charged.  
If the suspect is not in detention, there is no specified 
period for going to trial.  A detainee has access to lawyers; 
the State assumes the cost if necessary.

The judicial system has been much criticized for a large 
backlog of pending trials.

Exile and incommunicado detention are illegal and not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Portugal has an independent and impartial judicial system.  All 
trials are public except those which may offend the dignity of 
the victim, such as in cases of sexual abuse of children.  The 
accused is presumed innocent.  In trials for serious crimes, a 
panel of three judges presides.  For lesser crimes, a single 
judge presides.  At the request of the accused, a jury may be 
used in trials for major crimes; in practice, requests for jury 
trials are extremely rare.

Portugal holds no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
         Correspondence

The Constitution forbids forced entry into homes and searches 
without a judicial warrant.  In addition, entry into a person's 
home at night requires the consent of the occupant.  The 
Government may intercept private correspondence, or make 
wiretaps, only on the basis of a court order.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech and press is provided for in the Constitution 
and respected by the State.  The constitutionally mandated High 
Commission for Social Communication acts to protect this 
freedom; its members, chosen by the Government and the Assembly 
of the Republic, make recommendations to the Assembly and have 
enforcement powers.  The law provides that a person may be 
prosecuted for insulting certain state authorities if the 
insult is intended to undermine the rule of law; there were no 
known prosecutions on this basis in 1994.

The State owns two television channels, and two are privately 
owned.  The Government does not directly control the 
state-owned channels, but it wields considerable influence 
through personnel appointments.  Opposition parties sometimes 
charge that state network with political bias; station news 
directors deny this.  The law gives all political parties, even 
relatively tiny ones, the right to use "antenna time" during 
prime hours, and all do so.  More than 250 local privately 
owned radio stations are now on the air.  There is no press 
censorship.  All newspapers are privately owned.

Academic freedom is respected.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for this freedom, and the authorities respect 
these provisions.  Public meetings or protests require 24-hour 
advance notice to the civil governor of the region.  Permission 
is routinely granted.  The official registration of a new 
political party requires 5,000 signatures.

The law prohibits Fascist organizations.  Some small, extreme 
rightwing groups hold meetings and run candidates for public 
office without interference.  In January the Constitutional 
Court refused to rule on whether the rightwing National Action 
Movement (MAN) was Fascist and should be banned; the Court 
ruled that the organization had dissolved itself during the 
course of the Court's consideration.  The question had been 
raised by the Attorney General, after the involvement of some 
MAN members in violent acts.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Portugal does not have a state religion, and the Government 
does not interfere with the free practice of religion.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for the right of freedom of movement, 
foreign travel, and emigration.  There are no restraints on 
domestic travel or on the right of a citizen to change 
domicile.  Citizenship is not revoked for political reasons.

Displaced persons who qualify as refugees (as defined by the 
International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) 
are entitled to permanent resident status and work permits.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens
           to Change Their Government

Portugal is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy.  Candidates 
for president or for legislative, regional, or municipal 
offices are freely nominated and are elected by secret ballot 
on the basis of universal suffrage.

Elections to the unicameral Assembly of the Republic are held 
at least once every 4 years.  The President has a 5-year 
mandate and may not serve more than two consecutive terms.

Women and minorities participate in the political process 
without formal restriction.  Women hold 24 of 230 seats in the 
Assembly, including the Vice Presidency of that body.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
           of Human Rights

Local and international human rights groups operate freely.  
The Government cooperates with independent outside 
investigations of human rights conditions, responds to the 
findings of such investigations, and actively participates in 
the monitoring of human rights by the Council of Europe.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution forbids discrimination based on ancestry, sex, 
race, language, territory of origin, religion, political or 
ideological convictions, education, economic situation, or 
social condition.

     Women

Women's groups have drawn increasing attention to the largely 
hidden problem of domestic and other violence against women. 
The law provides for criminal penalties in cases of violence by 
a spouse.  Traditional societal attitudes discourage many 
battered women from recourse to the judicial system.  Women's 
groups complain that Portugal lacks institutions established 
specifically to provide relief to battered women.  The judicial 
system shows no apparent reluctance to prosecute suspects 
accused of abusing women.

The Civil Code provides for full legal equality for women.  
Sexual harassment, an issue gaining public attention, is 
covered in the Penal Code as a sex crime, but only if 
perpetrated by a superior and in the workplace.  As in the case 
of violence, socially ingrained attitudes discourage many women 
from taking advantage of their legal protection in this area.

Women are increasing their representation in universities, 
business, science, government, and the professions.  
Traditional attitudes of male dominance persist but are 
changing gradually.  The Commission for the Equality and Rights 
of Women, an official organization under the Ministry of 
Employment and Social Security, is a leading and effective 
advocate of women's rights.

     Children

The Government is committed to the rights and welfare of 
children, and has established mechanisms to protect children.  
The responsible governmental entity, the Institute for Support 
of Children, complains that it has not been allocated adequate 
funds to fulfill its responsibilities.  Most of its funds are 
spent on campaigns publicizing abuse of child labor, which 
occurs mainly in low-technology, home-based industries (see 
Section 6.d.).

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The principal minority groups are immigrants, legal and 
illegal, from Portugal's former African colonies; there is also 
a resident Roma population.  African immigrants continued to 
organize to protest what they perceive as racism in Portugal.  
The Government continued to deny that significant racist 
offenses have been occurring, while the press continued to 
report occasional racially motivated incidents apparently 
perpetrated by small, unorganized skinhead groups.  The police 
pursue such incidents as vigorously as they pursue other crimes.

     People with Disabilities

There is no discrimination against disabled persons in 
employment or in provision of state services.  Their access to 
public facilities is mandated by legislation, which is 
generally complied with.  There is no such legislation covering 
private businesses or other facilities.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers in both the private and public sectors have the right 
to associate freely and to establish committees in the 
workplace "to defend their interests."  The Constitution 
provides for the right to establish unions by profession or 
industry.  Trade union associations have the right to 
participate in the preparation of labor legislation.  Strikes 
are permitted for any reason, including political causes; they 
are common, and generally are resolved through direct 
negotiations.  The authorities respect all provisions of the 
law on labor's rights.

There are two principal labor federations.  Unions function 
without hindrance by the Government, and are closely associated 
with political parties.  The labor movement exercises 
significant influence on social and economic policymaking.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Unions are free to organize without interference by the 
Government or by employers.  Collective bargaining is 
guaranteed by the Constitution and practiced extensively in the 
public and private sectors.

Collective bargaining disputes rarely lead to prolonged strike 
action.  Should a long strike occur in an essential sector such 
as health, energy, or transportation, the Government may order 
the workers back to work for a specific period.  The Government 
has rarely done so, in part because most strikes are limited to 
periods of 1 to 3 days.  The law requires a "minimum level of 
service" to be provided during strikes in essential sectors, 
but this has been infrequently applied.  When it has been 
applied, minimum levels of service have been established by 
agreement between the Government and the striking unions, 
although unions complain the levels have been too high.  When 
collective bargaining fails, the Government may appoint a 
mediator, at the request of either management or labor.

The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, and the authorities 
respect this prohibition.  Complaints are promptly examined by 
the General Directorate of Labor.

Portugal has no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is prohibited and does not occur.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum employment age is 15 years.  It is to be raised to 
16 when the period of 9 years of compulsory schooling takes 
effect on January 1, 1997.  The two main labor federations, and 
observers from other European countries, have charged that a 
number of "clandestine" companies in the textile, shoe, and 
construction industries exploit child labor.

The Government's General Labor Inspectorate, which is 
responsible for enforcement of child labor laws, admits that 
thousands of children under age 15 are employed illegally, but 
says the number is declining.  The Inspectorate's funding has 
been increased, and the number of inspectors and inspections 
continues to grow.  The Inspectorate has levied increasingly 
large fines on employers who use child labor.

Union observers agree that the number of illegally employed 
children in Portugal is falling, but they attribute this to the 
general rise in unemployment.  Unions are entering into local 
alliances with church groups, citizens groups, and local 
government bodies to attack the multiple causes of child 
labor.  While some improvements have been effected, the 
Government does not allocate resources sufficient to address 
the problem fully.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Minimum-wage legislation covers full-time workers, as well as 
rural workers and domestic employees age 18 or over.  The 
current minimum monthly wage of about $320 (49,500 escudos) is 
generally enforced.  Even with rent control and various social 
assistance subsidies, it is difficult for a single-income 
family to maintain a decent standard of living on the minimum 
wage, particularly in urban areas.

Current legislation limits regular hours of work to 8 hours per 
day and 44 hours per week, but agreement has been reached in 
principle to reduce the workweek to 40 hours by 1995.  
Implementation remains under discussion in connection with 
other broad issues affecting labor.  Overtime is limited to 2 
hours a day, up to 200 hours annually.  Work during what is 
normally a day off is restricted to 8 hours.  These limits are 
respected in practice.  Workers are guaranteed 30 days of paid 
annual leave per year. The Ministry of Employment and Social 
Security monitors compliance through its regional inspectors.

Employers are legally responsible for accidents at work, and 
are required by law to carry accident insurance.  Portugal has 
developed a body of legislation that regulates safety and
health, but labor unions continue to argue for stiffer 
legislation.  The General Directorate of Hygiene and Labor 
Security develops safety standards, and the General Labor 
Inspectorate is responsible for enforcement; but the 
Inspectorate lacks sufficient funds and inspectors to combat 
the problem effectively.  Accidents average between 70,000 and 
75,000 per quarter.  A relatively large proportion are in the 
construction industry.  Poor environmental controls in textile 
production also cause considerable concern.  While the ability 
of workers to remove themselves from situations where these 
hazards exist is limited, it is difficult to fire workers for 
any reason.  Workers injured on the job rarely initiate  
lawsuits.

(###)

[end of document]

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