Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1987

Portugal's parliamentary political system is genuinely
democratic and enjoys broad popular support. Civil rights are
outlined in the Constitution in accordance with the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. The President of the Republic
and the members of the legislative Assembly of the Republic
are freely elected by secret ballot. Former Prime Minister
Mario Soares was elected as Portugal's first civilian President
in 60 years in 1986; in 1987 Prime Minister Cavaco Silva was
reelected with a majority in the Assembly.
Although large segments of the economy were nationalized in
the wake of the 1974 revolution, recent governments have
opened the banking sector to private competition and have
permitted private participation in some state-run companies.
The Government proposes to revise the Constitution in 1987-88
to remove the current ban on denationalization. If it is
successful, a step-by-step process will begin to open other
state-run firms in such key industries as pulp/paper,
petrochemicals, and the press/media to majority private
There have been no terrorist attacks in Portugal since July
1986. Prior to that time, however, terrorists occasionally
struck both Portuguese businessmen and U.S. or NATO targets in
Portugal. To combat terrorism, the Government set up in 1986
the first civilian/military intelligence service since the
abolition of the secret police after the 1974 revolution.
An ombudsman, elected by the National Assembly to serve a
5-year term, is Portugal's chief civil and human rights
officer. Any citizen may apply to the Ombudsman for relief.
He receives about 3,500 complaints annually, the vast majority
of which involve cases of alleged maladministration by the
cumbersome Portuguese bureaucracy.
The human rights scene in 1987 was stable. The Government and
its institutions continued to act in a manner consistent with
overall respect for human rights.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from:
     a. Political Killing
Portugal experiences a low level of violence, and governmentsanctioned
political killings do not occur. In recent years,
a radical terrorist group, FP-25 (translated as the "Popular
Forces of the 25th of April," referring to the April 1974
revolution), has claimed responsibility for several murders,
armed attacks on Portuguese nationals, and numerous bombings
and attempted bombings of Portuguese and foreign (U.S. and
NATO) installations. Active law enforcement efforts and the
absence of public support have sharply cut into the FP-25 's
ability to carry out violent operations during the last 2
     b. Disappearance
The police and armed forces did not arrest anyone secretly,
nor was anyone abducted by terrorist organizations in 1987.
     c. Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Treatment or Punishment.
The Constitution forbids torture and the use of evidence
obtained under torture in criminal proceedings. It also
prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
According to the Ombudsman, in 1987 there were no allegations
of the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading
treatment or punishment.
     d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, Exile or Forced Labor
According to Portuguese law, a prosecuting judge reviews cases
against persons arrested and accused of a crime to determine
whether they should be detained or released on bail. No one
may be held for more than 48 hours unless a prosecuting judge
orders preventive detention which is limited to a maximum of
4 months for each crime. Detention beyond the authorized 4
months, however, is not unusual in capital crimes such as
murder or armed robbery because of delays in Portugal's
cumbersome, backlogged judicial system. Detainees and persons
in preventive detention have access to lawyers, who are able
to protect their clients' rights through legal channels and
through publicity in the free press.
Exile and incommunicado detention are illegal and not
practiced in Portugal. Forced labor does not exist.
     e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Portugal has an independent and impartial judicial system.
All trials are public except those which may offend the
dignity of the victim, such as in cases involving sexual abuse
of children. The accused is presumed innocent until convicted.
A clear procedural distinction exists between the arrest and
trial of an individual. A panel of three judges (which does
not include the prosecuting judge) presides over cases which
go to trial. A ministerial delegate assists the judges in
reviewing the evidence. At the request of the accused, a jury
may be used in trials for major crimes. The judges or jury
may render the verdict; sentence may be passed only in the
presence of the defense attorney.
Portugal holds no political prisoners, although some radical
leftist opponents of the regime have claimed that certain
persons imprisoned for participation in terrorist organizations
are political prisoners. These have included 64 persons found
guilty of membership in FP-25 and sentenced to terms of from
10 to 17 years in May 1987 at the conclusion of a 2-year trial.
Most noteworthy of these was Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, leader
of the April 25, 1974 coup and mastermind of the shadowy,
terrorist "Global Project" organization, whose program
included overthrow of the Government by armed rebellion.
The convictions, which were widely viewed as dealing a major
blow to terrorist operations in Portugal and strengthening
Portuguese democratic institutions, were generally welcomed by
the Portuguese press, public, and legal community. At a
September 1987 conference in Portugal sponsored by the
partisan "National and International Committees for Justice
for Otelo," however, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark
criticized the law under which Otelo Carvalho was convicted
and alleged that both human rights violations and judicial
irregularities had occurred. Clark's charges, which received
considerable press coverage in Portugal, were dismissed by the
Public Prosecutor, lawyers, and local human rights observers
as reflecting "profound ignorance" about the trial and
Portugal's independent judicial system.
     f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or Correspondence
According to the Ombudsman, there were no reports in 1987 of
governmental intrusion into the private life of citizens. The
State does not tamper with private correspondence or
telephones. Wiretapping requires a court order. The
Constitution forbids forced entry into homes and searches
without a judicial warrant. In addition, entry into a
person's home at night requires the consent of the occupant.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
     a. Freedom of Speech and Presso
Freedom of speech and the press is provided for by the
Constitution and respected by the State. The constitutionally
mandated Council of Social Communication acts as a watchdog to
protect freedom of speech and access to the media. The
Council, whose members are elected by the Assembly of the
Republic, makes recommendations to the Assembly and has
enforcement powers (which have never been exercised) . The
opposition is free to voice its point of view, and the State
tolerates criticism, with two restrictions:
First, "Fascist organizations" are prohibited by law, but
elements on both the extreme right and left have participated
in elections without state interference.
Second, a person may be punished legally for "insulting" civil
or military authorities if such an "insult" was intended to
undermine the rule of law. There were no prosecutions for
"insult" in 1987.
Although the State indirectly subsidizes the press (through
its postrevolutionary nationalization of the banks, to which
the press is heavily indebted), it does not control editorial
comment. The entire spectrum of political thought is
represented in the Portuguese press. The Cavaco Silva
Government's economic program is also expected to eliminate
government subsidies to and ownership of some of the print
media. Obstacles to the conclusion of these sales are
administrative and economic rather than political or
The State also owns Portugal's two television channels and two
of the three national radio stations. Under the new
Government's program, television and radio are expected to be
opened up to private channels. In principle, the Government
does not control television or radio programming. Since it
appoints the broadcast media's administrators, however, the
Government probably has some indirect influence on programming.
Opposition parties sometimes charge that television or radio
ignores or distorts their views and activities. Nonetheless,
as was particularly evident during the 1987 election campaign,
all views are aired, and political parties, trade unions, and
other organizations have a right to periodic access to
exclusive television time after the evening news program.
     b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Persons have the right, in law and practice, to associate
formally or informally, to promote nonviolent causes, and to
protest government policies. Public meetings or protests
require 24-hour advance notice to the civil governor of the
area in which the event is to be held. Permission is
routinely granted. Official registration of new political
parties requires 5,000 signatures.
Workers have the constitutional right to establish unions by
profession or industry. Collective bargaining is guaranteed
by law and practiced in both the public and private sectors.
Issues such as wages, working conditions, and fringe benefits
are regularly the subject of collective bargaining. Strikes
are permitted for any reason, including political causes.
Neither the Government nor unions publish membership
statistics, but approximately 45 percent of Portugal's work
force is unionized. Unions are free of government control but
are closely associated with political parties.
There are two labor federations in Portugal. The General
Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP) , which is
controlled by the Communist Party, is active in Communistsponsored
causes. The General Union of Workers (UGT) is a
pluralist democratic union affiliated with the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade
Union Congress. UGT leaders are associated with either the
Socialist or Social Democratic Parties, and some have been
elected to the Assembly of the Republic. Membership in the
two federations is roughly equal, although the CGTP has been
gradually losing ground from its once prominent position after
the 1974 revolution. Since both federations want to represent
Portugal in the International Labor Organization, the Minister
of Labor has decided that they will do so in alternate years.
     c. Freedom of Religion
Portugal does not have a state religion, and the Government
does not interfere with the free practice of religion,
missionary work, or religious publications. Organized
religions may freely establish places of worship, train their
clergy, and proselytize. To qualify as a tax-exempt
institution, an organized religion must legally establish
itself as a nonprofit, private society.
Roman Catholicism is the prevailing religion in Portugal, and
Catholic religious instruction is offered as an elective
course in public schools. Success in a civil, military,
professional, or political career does not depend upon
adherence to a religious creed. There were no reported cases
of religious persecution in 1987.
     d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution ensures freedom of movement, foreign travel,
and emigration and places no formal restraints on domestic
travel or on the right of an individual to change domicile.
Some currency restrictions affecting foreign travel,
instituted during past periods of balance of payments
difficulties, remain in force although some have been
liberalized, and the Government is considering further
liberalization. Many Portuguese emigrate each year for
economic reasons or family reunification. A large number of
these emigrants eventually return to Portugal, however, to
resettle or retire. Citizenship is not revoked for political
A humane refugee program was established in Portugal by law in
1980. Displaced persons who qualify as refugees under the
United Nations definition are given permanent resident status
and work permits. In practice, displaced persons are not
forced to return to the country from which they fled.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Gonvernment
Portugal is a multiparty, participatory democracy in which
candidates for the presidency or for the Assembly of the
Republic are freely nominated and elected. The unicameral
Assembly is the legislative body with the Prime Minister as
Head of Government. The President and the members of the
Assembly are elected by secret ballot and universal adult
suffrage. Opposition parties and candidates operate freely
and enjoy access to the media. The United Popular Front party
(FUP), however, was excluded from participating in elections
because of evidence linking the party with the terrorist
organization FP-25. General elections are held at least every
4 years. The President has a 5-year mandate and may serve no
more than two consecutive terms.
The population is predominantly European and ethnically
homogeneous. Portugal has a small African minority, most of
whose members emigrated to Portugal when the former Portuguese
colonies became independent following the 1974 Revolution.
There are no restrictions on political participation by
minority groups.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Portugal cooperates with independent outside investigations of
human rights conditions and actively participates in the
Council of Europe's monitoring of human rights. Amnesty
International, the Portuguese branch of the International
Commission of Jurists, and other private international human
rights groups operate freely in Portugal.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
There are no laws discriminating against any racial, ethnic,
or religious group nor complaints of any such group benefiting
from a privileged status in Portugal.
The Civil Code guarantees full legal equality for women in
accordance with the Constitution. Women play an active role
in political parties but remain underrepresented in party and
government leadership positions. A woman served as Prime
Minister in 1979 and was a serious candidate for the
presidency in 1985. Currently, women occupy 1 of 16
ministerial positions and 2 of 31 secretary of state (junior
minister) positions. Women are steadily increasing their
representation in universities, business, science, government,
and the professions. Traditional attitudes of male dominance
persist in some areas but are changing gradually.
A nationwide monthly minimum wage for full-time workers was
first established in 1974 in Portugal. Minimum wages for
rural workers and domestic employees were legislatively
established in 1977 and 1978 respectively. With the exception
of 1982, minimum wages have increased every year. Workers are
required by law to be granted an individual written contract
which must include their professional category and salary, the
work site, the starting date, and the duration of the contract
(in the case of temporary workers). Employers are required to
contribute to an employee's social security fund. Legislation
limits work schedules to 8 hours per day and 48 hours per
week. Overtime is limited to 2 hours per work period, up to
120 annually. Work on a normal day off is restricted to 8
hours. These limits are respected in practice.
Child labor is not a general problem in Portugal, but there
appear to be some cases of companies operating outside the
law. The CGTP has charged that a number of "clandestine"
com.panies in the textile, shoe, and construction industries in
Northern Portugal exploit child labor. The Government has
acknowledged that abuses exist and has vowed to eliminate them