Portugal
Head of state
Aníbal António Cavaco Silva
Head of government
Pedro Manuel Mamede Passos Coelho

There were reports of excessive use of force by police against demonstrators and Roma. Domestic violence remained a serious concern.

Torture and other ill-treatment

A criminal investigation into the use of a Taser against an inmate in Paços de Ferreira prison in 2010 did not progress despite the findings of an inquiry by the Audit and Inspection services of the General Directorate for prisons that two members of the Prison Security Intervention Group had used the weapon disproportionately. The outcome of disciplinary proceedings against the two prison officers remained pending at the end of the year.

  • The trial of three police officers accused of torturing Virgolino Borges in March 2000 while in police custody, which started in November 2011, made little progress.
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Excessive use of force

In March, police reportedly used excessive force against peaceful demonstrators during anti-austerity protests. On 22 March, two journalists received medical treatment after allegedly being beaten by police at a demonstration in Lisbon.

  • In September, members of the Guarda Nacional Republicana reportedly used excessive force when attempting to arrest a man in a Romani community in Regalde, Vila Verde Municipality. At least nine Roma, including children, were allegedly beaten and physically and verbally abused by about 30 police officers; at least three needed medical treatment.
  • On 14 November, during a general strike, police reportedly charged peaceful demonstrators using batons. Some of those detained were reportedly not informed of the grounds for their detention and denied timely access to legal representation. The media reported 48 wounded.
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Violence against women and girls

Domestic violence continued to be a serious concern. The Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) and the Portuguese Ombudsman reported an increase in complaints by elderly victims of domestic violence. According to APAV, the total number of complaints by victims of domestic violence increased to 16,970 in 2012, compared with 15,724 in 2011. According to the NGO UMAR, deaths resulting from domestic violence were estimated at 36 as of September 2012, compared with 27 for the whole of 2011.

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International scrutiny

On 31 October, the UN Human Rights Committee issued its concluding observations on the fourth periodic report on Portugal. Recommendations focused on the rights of people detained in police custody, prison conditions, domestic violence and discrimination against migrants and ethnic minorities, including Roma.

Following his visit to Portugal in May, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concerns over ongoing discrimination against Roma and the impact of the economic crisis and fiscal austerity measures on the rights of children and the elderly.

 

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