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onclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Portugal, U.N. Doc. A/49/44, paras. 106-117 (1994).



Convention Abbreviation: CAT


Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture


106. The Committee considered the initial report of Portugal (CAT/C/9/Add.15) at its 166th and 167th meetings, held on 16 November 1993 (see CAT/C/SR.166 and 167), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations:

A. Introduction

107. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the report of Portugal is in conformity with its general guidelines on the presentation of the initial reports to be submitted by States parties under article 19, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

108. It listened with interest to the oral statement and explanations and clarifications of the Portuguese delegation. It greatly appreciated the spirit of trust and fruitful cooperation that characterized the dialogue with the delegation.

109. However, the Committee noted with regret that the report had been submitted more than three years late, contrary to the provisions of article 19, paragraph 1, which stipulates that States parties should submit initial reports within one year after the entry into force of the Convention for the State party concerned.

B. Positive aspects

110. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the efforts made by the State party in the constitutional and legislative fields to ensure that its legal system is in conformity with the Convention. Those efforts seem to be the expression of a genuine desire to create the conditions necessary to protect the physical and moral integrity of individuals and to prevent the practice of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

111. The Committee particularly appreciates the fact that the Constitution of Portugal:

(a) States that duly ratified international conventions are directly applicable and directly binding on all public and private bodies;

(b) Affirms the joint liability of the State, its public bodies and officials in civil matters;

(c) Declares evidence obtained under torture to be invalid, as well as clearly proclaiming that the right to physical integrity cannot be called in question when the country is under a state of siege or a state of emergency.

112. The Committee considers as positive the objectives of the institutions set up to protect and promote human rights, and the broad teaching, training and information programme being carried out to that end.

C. Subjects of concern

113. The Committee against Torture notes with regret that, despite those efforts:

(a) Ill-treatment and occasionally acts qualified as torture continue in police stations and other places of detention throughout the country;

(b) Investigations into such allegations are often embarked upon rather late and last too long and offenders are not always brought to court. That situation, together with the lightness of the sentences imposed, creates an impression that the culprits act with relative impunity - an impression highly prejudicial to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

114. The Committee also considers that the duration of pre-trial detention, both in law and in practice, is a negative factor.

115. Moreover, it regrets the treatment of the territory of Macao, under Portuguese administration until December 1999, owing to the non-application of the Convention against Torture to that territory.

D. Recommendations

116. In conclusion, the Committee recommends:

(a) That the next periodic report of the State party should be submitted within the time-limit laid down in the Convention;

(b) That the State party should continue its efforts, particularly with respect to the reform of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, to ensure that its legislation is fully in conformity with the provisions of the Convention;

(c) That it should establish machinery for the systematic review of interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices, particularly at police stations, as stipulated in article 11 of the Convention, and ensure that such machinery is sufficiently effective, as required by article 2, to give full effect to the commitments assumed and to implement the provisions of the Convention.

(d) That it should extend the application of the Convention to Macao, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 1, of the Convention.

117. The Committee against Torture takes note of the undertakings given by the Portuguese delegation and is convinced that Portugal will spare no effort to implement these recommendations.



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