Housing conditions for Roma and people of African descent remained inadequate. Portugal relocated fewer asylum-seekers than it was required to under the EU Relocation Programme. The government proposed legislation to strengthen the protection of transgender and intersex people’s rights. Parliament extended protection against hate speech and discrimination.
Right to housing and forced evictions
In February, in her report of a December 2016 visit to Lisbon, the capital, and Porto, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing noted that many Roma and people of African descent were living in substandard conditions and often faced discrimination in accessing adequate housing. She urged the authorities, among other things, to address inadequate housing in informal settlements as a priority and to ensure that evictions and demolitions did not result in homelessness and were carried out in compliance with international standards.
In March, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights visited Lisbon and Torres Vedras; he also expressed concern about the substandard and often segregated Roma settlements and called for new social housing programmes for all vulnerable groups to be developed.
Residents of the informal settlement of Bairro 6 de Maio in the Amadora municipality, near Lisbon, feared their houses could be demolished and they could be forcibly evicted without access to adequate processes. Many of the residents were of African and Roma descent.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In July, the Public Prosecutor of the Amadora municipality charged 18 police officers for the ill-treatment of six men of African descent in February 2015 (the charges against one officer were struck out in December). The officers were accused of torture, unlawful imprisonment, grave abuse of power and other offences aggravated by racism. In September, the investigating judge rejected the Public Prosecutor’s request that the officers be suspended pending trial.
The publication of the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s report of its visit to Portugal in September-October 2016 was pending at the end of the year. The visit focused on the application of safeguards against torture and other ill-treatment of persons in custody; conditions of detention in prison and on remand; and the situation of patients in forensic psychiatric units.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
Portugal relocated 1,518 asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy, leaving over 1,400 places to fill according to the legal commitment it had made under the EU Relocation Programme. However, the authorities reported that of those relocated, over 720 persons had left the country by the end of the year.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
In April, a government-sponsored bill aiming to bring the protection of LGBTI people’s rights in line with international standards was presented to Parliament. The bill was being considered at the end of the year. The bill proposed removing the requirement for psychological assessments and introduced the requirement for expressed consent to any medical treatment aimed at determining the gender for intersex people, including children.
In August, Parliament approved legislation strengthening protection against discrimination. The criminal code was amended to include descent and physical and mental disability among the grounds for criminal liability for discriminatory conduct. A separate offence of incitement to hatred and violence based on discriminatory motives was also introduced.
Violence against women
In October, the Porto Court of Appeal upheld the suspended sentence of two men convicted in 2015 of assaulting a woman. The woman’s former partner abducted her and her former husband beat her with a nail-spiked bat. The judges justified their decision by referring to religious beliefs and gender stereotypes, stating that “the adultery of the woman was a very serious attack on the honour and dignity of a man.” In December, the Superior Council of the Judiciary opened disciplinary proceedings, which were pending at the end of the year, against the two judges responsible for the ruling.