Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials remained a concern. The prosecution of law enforcement officials implicated in two high-profile cases of torture and other ill-treatment proceeded slowly. Domestic violence continued to be a widespread problem, leading to numerous deaths.
Torture and other ill-treatment
There were continued allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials. In February, the UN Committee against Torture expressed its concern about reports of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons and the excessive use of force, including the use of firearms, by law enforcement officials. It also expressed concern at the acquisition of Taser weapons by law enforcement agencies, stating that the pain such weapons inflict constituted a form of torture.
"According to the NGO Women’s Union, 48 people died as a result of domestic violence..."
- In October, the trial began of four police officers charged with torturing Leonor Cipriano in 2004 to obtain a confession that she had killed her daughter. Medical reports and photographs of Leonor Cipriano recorded extensive injuries after two days in police custody in Faro. Police officials said that she fell down a flight of stairs in the police station; however the Institute of Forensic Medicine stated that her injuries were not consistent with such an incident and were more in keeping with an assault. Leonor Cipriano said that she was punched, kicked, had a plastic bag placed over head, and was forced to kneel on glass ashtrays during interrogations. The trial was ongoing at the end of the year.
- The Court of Appeal in Lisbon ordered a retrial in the case of Albino Libânio, who was assaulted by prison officers in Lisbon Prison in 2003. The Court granted a request by Albino Libânio’s lawyers for the Portuguese state to be named as a defendant. The decision was made on the grounds that, as his injuries occurred while he was in the care of the prison system, the state should be held liable even if it was impossible to prove which prison officers were responsible for the attack. The original trial had recognized the injuries suffered by Albino Libânio but acquitted all seven prison officers of assault because of lack of evidence proving their responsibility. A new trial date had not been set at the end of the year.
Violence against women and girls
The Portuguese Association of Victim Support received 16,832 complaints concerning domestic violence in 2008, including seven murders. This represented an increase over the 14,534 complaints of domestic violence received in 2007.
According to statistics compiled by the NGO Women’s Union, 48 people died as a result of domestic violence in the year to mid-November.
The Portuguese National Renewal Party provoked controversy with an anti-immigration poster associating immigration with criminality and other social problems. The posters showed a white sheep kicking black sheep out of Portugal.
Counter-terror and security
The judicial investigation into suspected CIA rendition flights, opened in February 2007, was still ongoing at the end of the year. In January the UK-based NGO Reprieve stated that 700 prisoners had been illegally transferred to Guantánamo Bay “with Portuguese complicity” between 2002 and 2006, and at least 94 rendition flights had crossed Portuguese territory.
Information from the Ministry of Public Works given to Parliament in May stated that 56 CIA-operated flights originating from or heading to Guantánamo Bay passed through Portuguese territory between July 2005 and December 2007. No information was made public about the details of the passengers on these flights.