COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered
the fifth to eighth periodic reports of Portugal (CERD/C/314/Add.1), at
its 1311th and 1312th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1311 and 1312), held on 4 and
5 March 1999, and adopted, at its 1328th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1328), held
on 17 March 1999, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes
the opportunity to resume its dialogue with the State party after a lapse
of eight years. The Committee notes with appreciation that the report
submitted by the State party is a comprehensive document which largely
complies with the Committee's general guidelines. The Committee welcomes
the frank and self-critical approach of the report, the constructive dialogue
with the State party's delegation and the additional information in response
to the questions raised by the members of the Committee, which reflect
the serious commitment of the State party to implementing the provisions
of the Convention.
B. Positive aspects
3. The efforts undertaken
and the innovative measures adopted by the State party to combat racial
discrimination are welcomed, as is the State party's willingness to recognize
existing problems and to find appropriate solutions, both legislative
and administrative. The Committee notes with appreciation that since the
examination of the previous reports, a new Penal Code (1995) has been
adopted which brings domestic legislation more into conformity with the
Convention. It also notes with interest that the Portuguese Constitution
was amended in 1997.
4. The Committee welcomes
the information provided by the State party that the Convention is directly
applicable in the Portuguese legal system and that it takes precedence
over domestic legislation.
5. The Committee welcomes
the enactment of Decree 296-A/95 of 17 November 1995 providing for the
appointment of the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities
whose ultimate objective is to prevent xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination
and to promote a dialogue with immigrants and ethnic communities. The
initiatives taken by the High Commissioner in the sphere of training,
education and information are appreciated.
6. The Committee notes with
appreciation the State party's efforts to promote equal opportunity for
Roma (Gypsies) and their better integration in society. The Committee
notes, in particular, the establishment in 1996 of the Working Group for
the Equality and Insertion of Gypsies, under the authority of the High
Commissioner, and the existence of "Gypsy mediators" with the task of
ensuring liaison between the Roma (Gypsy) community and the public and
7. The Committee commends
the State party's initiatives in 1992 and 1996 to regularize the situation
of a large number of clandestine immigrants in order to allow them fully
to enjoy their social, economic and cultural rights, particularly in regard
to work, social services and access to housing.
8. With respect to article
7 of the Convention, the Committee welcomes the information given by the
State party regarding its efforts to develop educational programmes for
law enforcement officials, including human rights training in general
and training concerning the provisions of the Convention in particular.
D. Principal subjects of concern
9. The Committee expresses
its concern at manifestations of xenophobia and racial discrimination,
including acts of violence directed against certain ethnic groups, particularly
Blacks, Roma (Gypsies), immigrants and foreigners frequently perpetrated
by skinheads, although the Committee acknowledges the efforts of the State
party to combat such acts.
10. While noting that article
46, paragraph 4 of the Constitution of Portugal, as well as Law No. 64/78,
prohibits racist organizations or organizations adhering to a fascist
ideology, the Committee also expresses its concern that article 4 of the
Convention is not fully complied with, since the protection thus provided
for by law does not cover the wide variety of racist organizations that
may exist or develop.
11. With regard to article
5 of the Convention, the report does not contain sufficient information
to allow an evaluation of the practical implementation of the right to
access to and equal treatment before the courts. The Committee expresses
its apprehension concerning the de facto enjoyment of these rights by,
in particular, Roma (Gypsies), Blacks, immigrants and foreigners.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
12. The Committee recommends
that further measures be taken to harmonize domestic legislation with
the provisions of the Convention. In this respect, it is recommended,
in particular, that appropriate measures be taken to prohibit all organizations
and groups, whether or not of fascist ideology, which promote racist ideas
or objectives, in order to ensure that article 4 of the Convention is
fully complied with.
13. It is also recommended
that the State party continue and intensify its measures aimed at preventing
and prosecuting any act or manifestation of racial discrimination or xenophobia,
including acts of violence against certain ethnic groups, particularly
Blacks, Roma (Gypsies), immigrants and foreigners.
14. The Committee suggests
that further action be taken to ensure that the provisions of the Convention
are more widely publicized, particularly among Roma (Gypsies), Blacks,
immigrants and foreigners.
15. The Committee recommends
that the State party in its next periodic report provide detailed and
relevant information on the demographic composition of the Portuguese
population, in accordance with paragraph 8 of the Committee's reporting
16. The State party is invited
to provide further information on the following issues: (a) complaints
and court cases relating to racial discrimination; (b) the enjoyment in
practice of the right to access to and equal treatment before the courts,
in particular by Roma (Gypsies), Blacks, immigrants and foreigners; (c)
activities undertaken by the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic
Minorities; (d) additional measures undertaken to combat manifestations
of xenophobia and racial discrimination, including acts of violence directed
against certain ethnic groups; and (e) the results of integration programmes
established in connection with the regularization of the situation of
clandestine immigrants in 1992 and 1996.
17. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting
of State Parties to the Convention.
18. It is noted that the State
party has not yet made the declaration provided for in article 14 of the
Convention, and some members of the Committee request that the State party
consider the possibility of making such a declaration.
19. The Committee requests
that the State party give wide publicity to its report to the Committee,
as well as to the present concluding observations.
20. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 23 September 1999,
be an updating report and that it address all the points raised in these
concluding observations and during the consideration of the report.