Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1989

The Republic of Portugal is a parliamentary democracy with a
president of the republic and legislative assembly freely
elected by secret ballot. Former Prime Minister Mario Soares
was elected Portugal's first civilian President in 60 years in
1986. In 1987 Prime Minister Anibal Antonio Cavaco Silva was
reelected and formed the first majority Government since the
1974 revolution.
Macau, a small Portuguese-administered island group off the
coast of China, has limited representative government. Macau
is regarded by both the Portuguese and the Chinese Governments
as Chinese territory operating under Portuguese administration.
Under a 1987 agreement between the two Governments, Macau will
become a special administrative region of China in 1999.
Internal security is primarily the responsibility of the
Ministries of Justice and Internal Administration. Security
forces are fully controlled by and responsive to the
Portugal has a market-based economy and is a member of the
European Community. An increasing percentage of the
population is employed in industry and services, while
employment in the agricultural sector continues to decline.
Unemployment in 1989 was low by European standards at under
7 percent; however, underemployment remains a chronic
problem. Current government policies aim at encouraging
investment, reducing inflation, and cutting the public sector
deficit. In order to reduce government obligations, the
Government initiated in 1988 a privatization program for state
firms nationalized following the 1974 revolution.
The human rights situation in 1989 was stable. Government
authorities continue to demonstrate respect for human rights.
Civil rights are outlined in the Constitution in accordance
with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. An ombudsman,
elected by the Assembly of the Republic (legislature) to serve
a 4-year term, is Portugal's chief civil and human rights
officer. Any citizen may apply to him for relief. The
Ombudsman receives about 3,500 complaints annually; the vast
majority concern cases of alleged maladministration by the
cumbersome bureaucracy.
The fundamental rights and guarantees contained in the
Portuguese Constitution apply also to Macau. Violent
repression of dissidents by authorities in the People's
Republic of China (PRC) in the spring of 1989 left many in
Macau concerned about the future, and Portuguese officials
actively tried to reassure Macau residents that Portugal will
remain concerned with their well-being. Under the terms of
the 1987 agreement, Macau's current social, economic, and
legal systems are to remain basically unchanged during the
first 50 years after 1999.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
Government-sanctioned political killings do not occur. There
were no killings attributed to domestic terrorist groups.
      b. Disappearance
Government or police authorities do not abduct, secretly
arrest, or otherwise illegally detain persons. There were no
abductions by terrorist organizations.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution forbids torture and inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, as well as the use in criminal
proceedings of evidence obtained under torture. There were no
reports of complaints of such treatment in 1989.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Under Portuguese law, a prosecuting judge reviews the case
against a person arrested and accused of a crime to determine
whether that person should be detained or released on bail. A
person may not be held for more than 48 hours unless a
prosecuting judge orders preventive detention. Preventive
detention is limited to a maximum of 4 months for each crime.
Because of the cumbersome, backlogged judicial system,
detention beyond 4 months is not unusual for major crimes such
as murder or armed robbery. Detainees and persons in
preventive detention have access to lawyers, who are generally
effective in protecting their clients' rights.
Exile and incommunicado detention are illegal and not
practiced in Portugal. With regard to forced or compulsory
labor, see Section 6.c.
      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 the sexual
abuse of children. The accused is presumed innocent until
proven guilty.
A clear procedural distinction is made between arrest and
trial. A panel of three judgei: (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. Some radical leftist
opponents of the regime have claimed that certain persons
imprisoned for participation in terrorist organizations were
political prisoners, including 64 persons found guilty of
membership in FP-25 (translated as the "Popular Front of the
25th of April," referring to the April 25, 1974 revolution)
and sentenced to prison terms in 1987. Most noteworthy of
these was Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, one of the leaders of the
April 25, 1974 coup and convicted leader of the FP-25's
shtidowy "Global Project" organization, which advocates the
overthrow of the Government by armed rebellion. Otelo Saraiva
de Carvalho and 27 other defendants were released from prison
in May on constitutional and procedural grounds, but an
appeals court reaffirmed their convictions in September.
Carvalho and the other defendants remain at liberty, however,
pending a ruling by the Supreme Court.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
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.
The State does not tamper with private correspondence or
telephones except with a court order.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freecom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech and press is provided for in the
Constitution and respected by the State. The constitutionally
mandated Couni-il 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. The academic community is free to express
its views.
"Fascist organizations," however, are prohibited by law. In
addition, a person may be prosecuted for "insulting" civil or
military authorities if the "insult" is intended to undermine
the rule of law. There were no prosecutions for "insult" in
Although the State owns both television channels, the
provision of the Constitution making television a state
monopoly was removed in 1989. There is as yet no firm
schedule for the introduction of implementing legislation to
authorize the operation of one or more private television
stations, but the Government is committed to this step.
In principle, the Government does not exercise direct control
over the stafce3-owned television system, though it does wield
considerable influence through personnel appointments.
Opposition par*-ies sometimes charge that the state network
ignores or distorts opposition views and activities. Station
news directors defend their decisions as based on editorial
judgments, not political partisanship. All political parties
use their lesjai right to "antenna time" during prime
viewing/listening hours.
During 1989 the Government passed legislation permitting
private radio stations to operate. As of October, more than
100 such local stations had been authorized and were on the
air, breaking what had previously been the dominant role of
the Catholic Church and two government networks.
The entire spectrum of political thought is represented in the
Portuguese press. There is no press censorship. More than a
dozen new national publications appeared in 1988-1989 and
several more are planned. Their rise and fall is determined
by economic and editorial competitiveness.
As a result of postrevolutionary nationalization of the banks,
to which many of the newspapers were indebted, the State
acquired title to a number of newspapers. These papers are
editorially independent but state owned. The Government in
1989 sold three of these publications and announced that the
two remaining state-owned papers would also be sold.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Persons have the right, in law and practice, to associate
formally or informally and to promote nonviolent causes.
Public meetings or protests require 24-hour advance notice to
the civil governor of the region in which the event is to be
held. Permission is routinely granted. The official
registration of a new political party requires 5,000
For a discussion of freedom of association as it applies to
labor unions, see Section 6. a.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Portugal does not have a state religion. The Government does
not interfere with the free practice of religion, missionary
work, or religious publications. Organized religious groups
may establish places of worship, train clergy, and proselytize
without government interference. These freedoms extend to
foreign clergy, many of whom work in Portugal. To qualify as
tax-exempt institutions, religious groups must be established
as nonprofit, private societies.
Roman Catholicism is the prevailing religion in Portugal.
Catholic religious instruction is offered as an elective
course in public schools. Other denominations offer religious
education in their own institutions without interference.
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.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for freedom of movement, foreign
travel, and emigration. There are no restraints on domestic
travel or on the right of a person to change domicile. Some
currency restrictions still affect travel. Citizenship is not
revoked for political reasons.
Displaced persons who qualify as refugees as defined by the
United Nations are entitled to permanent resident status and
work permits. Displaced persons are not forced to return to
the country from which they fled.
The Macau Government has followed an unofficial policy since
1982 of towing all Vietnamese boat people arriving in Macau
into or near Hong Kong territorial waters. This policy has
the tacit cooperation of the Hong Kong Government. In July,
according to reports by the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees and the Hong Kong Government, a boat carrying
approximately 35 Vietnamese broke apart while being towed at
high speed by Macau marine police. The Macau authorities
reportedly towed the boat to a deserted Chinese island nearby
and abandoned the refugees with no food, water, or other
provisions. Two of the boat people eventually succeeded in
reaching Hong Kong and gaining assistance from Hong Kong
marine police. There were no fatalities. The Macau
authorities denied any knowledge of this incident.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Portugal is a multiparty, participatory democracy. Candidates
for president and for legislative, regional, and municipal
offices are freely nominated and elected by secret ballot on
the basis of universal suffrage. The unicameral Assembly of
the Republic is the legislative body. The Prime Minister is
the head of the Government. Opposition parties and candidates
operate freely and enjoy access to the media. General
elections are held at least every 4 years. The President has
a 5-year mandate and may not serve more than two consecutive
In Macau, representative government exists on a limited
basis. The 17-member Legislative Assembly is an
organizational hybrid in which 6 members are chosen by means
of universal, direct elections, 6 are indirectly elected by
local communities' economic or cultural associations, and 5
are appointed by the Governor. There is also popular
representation in the Consultative Council, an advisory group
to the Governor. The Macau Government, by tradition, also
consults informally on a regular basis with local business and
cultural leaders.
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
monitoring of human rights by the Council of Europe. Portugal
was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in
1988 and plays an active role. International and local 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 does any group benefit from a
privileged status in Portugal.
The civil code guarantees full legal equality for women.
Women are increasing their representation in universities,
business, science, government, and the professions.
Traditional attitudes of male dominance persist but are
changing gradually. The Commission on the Status of Women, an
official organization established in 1976, is a leading
advocate for women's rights.
Various women's groups in Portugal have drawn attention to the
largely hidden problem of violence against women, particularly
in the family. Portuguese law provides for criminal penalties
in cases of violence between couples without referring
specifically co wife beating. Women's groups point out that
traditional attitudes discourage many women who suffer such
violence from seeking recourse in the judicial system and
complain that Portugal lacks official institutions established
specifically to provide relief to battered women.
Reported cases of violence against women in Macau are not
common. Macau's criminal statutes prohibiting domestic
violence are enforced, and violators are prosecuted. Abuses
are reported by police and doctors to the Social Welfare
Department where they are investigated. If hospital treatment
is required, a resident medical social worker offers the
victim counseling and information on social welfare services.
Battered women may be placed in public housing until their
complaints are resolved, although there are no facilities
reserved for battered women.
Because Macau's governmental and legal systems place a premium
on knowledge of the Portuguese language and metropolitan law,
top leadership positions in the territorial administration are
almost without exception filled by officials recruited from
Portugal. Nevertheless, efforts are under way to change
this. Legislation is now being drafted in both Chinese and
Portuguese, and both languages have equal status in the
Legislative Assembly and Consultative Council.
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
Workers have the right to associate freely and to establish
committees in the workplace "to defend their interests." The
Constitution ensures the right to establish unions by
profession or industry. Trade union associations are
guaranteed the right to participate in the preparation of
labor legislation. Strikes are permitted for any reason,
including political causes. Lockouts are prohibited. These
constitutional guarantees are respected in practice.
Neither the Government nor unions publish membership
statistics. It is estimated that approximately one-third of
Portugal's work force is unionized. There are two labor
federations. The General Confederation of Portuguese Workers
Intersindical (CGTP-IN) is controlled by the Communist Party
and engages freely in cooperative activities with the
Communist labor international, the World Federation of Trade
Unions. The General Union of Workers (UGT) is a pluralist,
democratic federation affiliated with the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade
Union Confederation. The UGT and the CGTP participate jointly
in the annual meetings of the International Labor Organization.
Both federations and their affiliates function free of
government control but are closely associated with political
parties. The CGTP-IN generally supports the Communist Party's
policies and causes. UGT leaders are associated with either
the Socialist or Social Democratic Parties. Although some UGT
leaders serve in Parliament, the federation pursues a
generally independent path that occasionally puts it in
conflict with the Socialist and/or Social Democratic Parties.
The labor movement in Portugal exercises significant influence
on social and economic policymaking.
In Macau, current laws recognize the freedom of workers to
join unions and to strike. The Government neither impedes the
formation of unions nor practices discrimination against union
members. The PRC Government and the Chinese Communist Party
do not exercise any direct control over Macau labor unions.
Chinese mainland influence is considerable in a number of
sectors, however. This influence has resulted in a quiescent
labor movement in keeping with PRC aims to maintain domestic
stability in Macau in the period up to 1999. Such influence
indeed complements the local traditional view of unions as
centers for social and cultural activities.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Unions are free to organize without government or employer
interference. Collective bargaining is guaranteed by the
Constitution and practiced extensively in the public and
private sectors. When collective bargaining fails, the
Government, at the request of management and labor, may make a
mediator available. When collective bargaining disputes lead
to prolonged strike action in key sectors (for example, health
and transportation), the Government is empowered to order the
workers back to work for a specific period. The Government
has rarely done so in practice. Union officials and members
are protected by law against antiunion discrimination, and
this law is observed in practice. There are no export
processing zones in Portugal.
In Macau, unions tend to resemble traditional neighborhood
associations, promoting social and cultural activities rather
than issues related to the workplace. Local custom, moreover,
favors employment without the benefit of written labor
contracts, the exception being the import of labor from China
which is under contract. Unions traditionally have not
attempted to engage in collective bargaining. Accordingly,
while the Macau Government does not impede or discourage
collective bargaining, there are no government mechanisms to
promote voluntary negotiations. There are no export
processing zones in Macau.
A legal requirement for Government approval before collective
agreements in public enterprises can become effective is the
subject of a pending union complaint before the ILO.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
In both Portugal and Macau, forced labor is illegal and does
not exist.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The minimum employment age is 14 years. The Government has
cited plans to boost the minimum age to 16 years once new
educational reforms take effect. Child labor is not common
but does exist. The UGT and CGTP-IN have charged that a
number of "clandestine" companies 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 but had not -taken any steps by the
end of the year.
In Macau, minors under the age of 14 are forbidden by law to
work. Nevertheless, child labor reportedly is not uncommon in
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
A national monthly minimum wage for full-time workers was
first established in Portugal in 1974. Minimum wages for
rural workers and domestic employees were legislatively
established in 1977 and 1978 respectively. Except in 1982,
minimum wages have been increased every year. The current
minimum monthly wage for general workers is $203; for
agricultural workers and domestics, it is $193 and $155
respectively. The minimum wage is generally enforced. Even
with rent control and various social assistance subsidies, it
is difficult for a single income family to maintain a decent
standard of living on a minimum wage income, particularly in
urban areas. Various social assistance subsidies are
available to ameliorate the situation somewhat.
Workers receive a Christmas bonus equal to 1 month's salary.
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. The average workweek is 42 hours, and the
Government has submitted a draft bill to reduce the maximum
workweek to 44 hours. Current legislation limits regular
hours of work to 8 hours daily and 48 hours per week.
Overtime is limited to 2 hours per work period, up to 160
hours annually. Work on a normal day off is restricted to 8
hours. These limits are respected in practice. Workers are
guaranteed 21 days of paid annual leave per year. The
Ministry of Employment and Social Security monitors compliance
with the above regulations through its regional inspectors.
Employers are required by law to hold accident insurance or to
assume responsibility for accidents at the work site.
Portugal has developed a compendium of legislation that
regulates safety and health. Labor unions deem these
regulations inadequate and continue to urge the Government to
enact and enforce stiffer legislation.
In Macau, existing labor legislation provides for a 48-hour
workweek (normally 8 hours per day and no more than 10.5 hours
per day), overtime, annual leave, medical and maternity care,
and employee compensation insurance. The Labor Department is
responsible for processing complaints. However, government
enforcement of the labor laws appears lax at times, partly
owing to limited fiscal resources and personnel skills but
also to a lack of policy emphasis. In the absence of any
statutory minimum wage or publicly administered social
security program, some large companies have provided private
welfare and security packages. Candidates for public office
in Macau have called for reform of the existing labor law, for
medical insurance, a social security system, and increases in
employee compensation. To offset the current labor shortage,
the Macau Government allows the importation of labor from
China under contract. There are heavy fines on employers
harboring illegal immigrants. The number of imported workers
in Macau is between 1,500 and 3,000 out of an estimated work
force of 195,000.