European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Fourth report on Portugal [en] - [fr] - [prt]

Press Release – 09.07.2013

Portuguese version

Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Portugal

Strasbourg, 09.07.2013 - The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published its fourth report on Portugal. ECRI’s Chair, Ms Eva Smith, said that, despite positive developments, there were issues of concern. For example, the racial discrimination complaints procedure continues to be lengthy and complicated and the principle of sharing the burden of proof is not applied.

Portugal has taken steps to combat racial discrimination and eliminate stereotypes in the media; Roma socio-cultural mediators have been appointed to town halls with the aim of improving Roma communities’ access to services and promoting communication; a Second Plan for Immigrant Integration has been adopted; integration services are provided by three national and numerous local immigrant support centres around the country; negative decisions on asylum can be challenged in the administrative courts with automatic suspensive effect.

However, there is no criminal law provision expressly making racist motivation an aggravating circumstance for all offences; the High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue does not have investigation powers nor the right to initiate and participate in court proceedings; a large number of Roma continue to live in barracks, shacks or tents, in isolated areas often lacking basic infrastructure and some Roma settlements have had walls built around them.

In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations to the authorities, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited by ECRI in two years’ time:

  • To put in place a system of collection of data indicating whether particular groups may be disadvantaged or discriminated against on the basis of “race”, ethnicity, religion or membership of Roma or other vulnerable communities;
  • To simplify and speed up procedures following the lodging of complaints with the High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue and consider ways in which the principle of sharing the burden of proof could be put into effect;
  • To eliminate all walls and other barriers segregating Roma communities.

The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Portugal in September 2012 [Press Release – 9 October 2012] and takes account of developments up to 6 December 2012.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

For more information on ECRI: www.coe.int/ecri

Press contact: Stefano Valenti, Tel: +33 (0)3 90 21 43 28, stefano.valenti@coe.int