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Portugal 2022

Concerns about police brutality and accountability for police misconduct persisted. The safeguards against gender-based violence remained inadequate. Thousands of people continued to live in inadequate housing conditions. Migrant workers in the agricultural sector suffered from exploitative conditions of employment. Over 1,000 people died of causes related to extreme heatwaves.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Reports of excessive use of force and other ill-treatment by police officers persisted. Between May and June, the Council of Europe (CoE) Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited numerous prisons and places of detention to examine detainees’ treatment and conditions. The visit aimed to follow up on the extensive list of recommendations made by the CPT in its report following a 2019 visit, including assessing the effectiveness of investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials.

Sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination

In July, following its periodic review of Portugal, the CEDAW Committee criticized the inadequacy of the legislative and institutional framework and the insufficiency of services to address gender-based violence against women. It also expressed concern about school dropout rates among Roma girls due to child and/or forced marriage and early pregnancy and noted that these issues were often ignored by the authorities.

Right to housing

The government took insufficient measures to improve housing conditions and guarantee sufficient affordable housing despite data released at the end of 2021 showing that over 38,000 people were in housing need. Reports of forced evictions leaving people in worse housing situations – including, in some cases, homelessness – persisted, a situation which disproportionately affected people of Roma and African descent.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

In January, investigative media reports exposed exploitative labour conditions and inadequate housing affecting migrant workers, mostly from south Asian countries, employed in the agricultural sector in the southern region of Odemira.

In June, the CoE Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), which had visited the country in 2021, noted that labour exploitation remained the most common type of exploitation, affecting especially the agricultural and catering sectors.

Failure to tackle climate crisis and environmental degradation

In September, following a visit, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment concluded that the authorities needed to increase the pace of action to address, in particular, air pollution and waste management, and to prevent wildfires. According to data from the Directorate-General of Health, as of July, there had been more than 1,000 deaths related to extreme heatwaves in 2022. As of August, according to the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, 60.4% of Portugal was experiencing severe drought and 39.6% extreme drought.