Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture
70. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Portugal (CAT/C/25/Add.10) at its 305th and 306th meetings, on 13 November 1997 (CAT/C/SR.305 and 306), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations:
71. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the report of Portugal conforms to the general guidelines regarding the presentation of periodic reports. It expresses its great satisfaction at the full, detailed and frank nature of the report.
72. The Committee listened with the greatest interest to the oral statement and explanations and clarifications from the delegation of Portugal, which displayed a real willingness to enter into dialogue and great professionalism.
2. Positive aspects
73. The Committee expresses its gratification at the State party’s impressive efforts in the legislative and institutional spheres to bring its legislation into line with the obligations resulting from its accession to the Convention.
74. The Committee particularly appreciates the following innovations:
(a) The adoption of a new Penal Code containing a definition of torture;
(b) The opening of certain courts on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays so that arrested persons can be brought before them without delay;
(c) The adoption of the Physicians’ Code of Ethics;
(d) The establishment of criminal sanctions for officials who fail to report acts of torture within three days of learning of them;
(e) The adoption of the rule aut dedere, aut judicare;
(f) The adoption and implementation of an extensive programme for education in the sphere of human rights in general and in that of the prevention of torture in particular;
(g) The establishment of the office of Provedor de Justiça and of the Inspeccão-Geral da Administracão Interna and, in particular, the powers vested in those institutions;
(h) The recognition of the right of victims of torture and similar acts to compensation, as well as the general system for the compensation of victims of offences;
(i) The provisions of article 32, paragraph 6, of the Constitution invalidating evidence obtained by torture;
(j) The revision of the Constitution, especially the ending of the status of military courts as special courts.
3. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions of the Convention
75. The Committee observes that there are no particular factors or difficulties impeding the application of the provisions of the Convention in Portugal.
4. Subjects of concern
76. The Committee is seriously concerned about the recent cases of ill-treatment, torture and, in some instances, suspicious death attributed to members of the forces of law and order, especially the police, as well as the apparent lack of any appropriate response by the competent authorities.
77. The rules on extradition and deportation are not conducive to full observance by the State party of the Convention, especially article 3 thereof.
78. The State party should revise its practice regarding the protection of human rights so as to make the rights and freedoms recognized in Portuguese law more effective, and to narrow or even eliminate the gap between the law and its implementation. To that end it should devote the greatest possible attention to the handling of files concerning accusations of violence made against public officials, with a view to initiating investigations and, in proven cases, applying appropriate penalties.
79. Even though the principle of due process applies in Portugal, the legislation should be clarified in order to remove any doubts concerning the obligation on the part of the competent authorities to initiate investigations of their own accord and systematically in all cases where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an act of torture has been committed on any territory within their jurisdiction.