Portugal 2019
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Portugal 2019

A framework law on housing with stronger safeguards against evictions was passed but failed to outlaw forced evictions. New legislation on rape was passed introducing some provisions in line with the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).

Right to housing and forced evictions

A framework law on housing passed in September recognized the right to adequate housing and strengthened existing safeguards regarding evictions. However, it failed to outlaw forced evictions.

Although the government took steps to make housing more affordable, the most vulnerable continued to struggle to access adequate housing and residents of informal settlements remained at risk of having their houses demolished and being forcibly evicted without access to adequate processes.

Violence against women and girls

In October, Parliament passed legislation to bring the definition of sexual crimes in the Criminal Code, including rape, in line with the Istanbul Convention. However, the new provisions still fell short of international standards, including by continuing to place the onus on the victim to express their lack of consent.

Following several contentious court decisions in recent years on domestic violence, a new law was introduced in September making training on human rights and domestic violence compulsory for judges.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

According to the government, since 2015, Portugal has received 2,144 people entitled to international protection, mainly from Eritrea, Iraq and Syria. Portugal took part in efforts to relocate people rescued in the Mediterranean to EU Members States, receiving 144 asylum-seekers since the summer of 2018.

In September, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recommended legislative changes to ensure alternatives to the detention of migrant children and child asylum-seekers.

Children’s rights

In September, the CRC expressed concern at the deterioration in the standard of living of children in or at risk of poverty and at the inadequate living conditions of children living in informal settlements, including children of Roma and African descent. The CRC recommended that Portugal strengthen measures to ensure that at-risk children have access to adequate and affordable housing.

There were also concerns that children with disabilities were not receiving the care and support to which they were entitled.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In May, eight police officers were convicted of unlawfully imprisonment, assaulting and insulting six young men of African descent living in the Cova da Mura neighbourhood near Amadora in February 2015. They were also found guilty of giving false testimony. Charges of torture and racist motivation were dismissed by the court. One of the eight officers was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment; the remaining seven were given suspended sentences of between two months and five years. The victims were awarded compensation.

The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment recommended in May that Portugal investigate allegations of ill-treatment in detention, ensure access to healthcare for prisoners and provide a prisoner complaints system, among other issues.

Portugal failed to create a fully independent body to investigate misconduct by law enforcement officials and rejected recommendations to institute such an oversight mechanism made by the UN Human Rights Committee in the framework of its examination of the country’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process

in May.[1]

The National Ombudsman’s Office, acting as the National Preventive Mechanism, continued to lack resources to properly fulfil its mandate, despite recommendations to ensure such resources made during the UPR.

Discrimination

The CRC recommended that Portugal strengthen awareness among the public, civil servants and law enforcement personnel on diversity and inter-ethnic understanding.

Portugal received numerous recommendations to combat racism in various areas during its Universal Periodic Review.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI)

A 2018 law safeguarding the right to self-determination in legal gender recognition and the protection of everyone’s sexual characteristics was complemented in August by legislation to secure its implementation in the school system.


[1] Portugal: Amnesty International recommendations to Portugal for 33rd UPR 2019 (EUR 38/0223/2019)