European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)


COMMISSION FOR EQUALITY AND AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
PORTUGAL

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Background
Mandate
Internal Organisation
Activities
CONTACT

Background 

The Commission for Equality and against Racial Discrimination (CICDR) was established by law no 134/99 on the Prohibition of Discrimination in the Exercise of Rights due to Motives based on Race, Colour, Nationality or Ethnic Origin, which was passed by the Portuguese Assembly on 28 August 1999. It met for the first time in Autumn 2001.

Mandate 

The main task of the CICDR is to assist with the implementation of Law N° 134/99 mentioned above, which covers direct and indirect discrimination. According to this law, racial discrimination covers any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, nationality or ethnic origin which results in annulling or restricting the recognition or exercise of a person’s economic, social and cultural rights.

According to Law 134/99, Articles 5.2b to 5.2f, the role of the Commission is to:

§ collect any information relating to discriminatory acts and practices and to apply the relevant sanctions;
§ make recommendations on the adoption of legal measures, regulations and administrative measures intended to prevent discrimination on grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin;
§ promote studies and investigations into racial discrimination;
§ publish an annual report on equality and racial discrimination in Portugal.

The Commission also has the statutory right to make recommendations to Parliament to initiate legislation or to recommend the government to issue decrees to combat discrimination.

Internal Organisation 

The Commission for Equality and against Racial Discrimination is currently chaired by the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities. The other members of the Commission are from a wide variety of backgrounds, relevant to combating discrimination. Amongst other representatives, the Board is made up of NGOs working with or consisting of ethnic minority groups, representatives of immigrant and anti-racist organisations and NGOs active in human rights protection.

Activities 

- Formal investigations

The Commission receives complaints about and investigates acts of possible racial discrimination. The Commission can decide to investigate regardless of proof, and in such cases it will ask the competent body to look into the matter. In cases where discrimination is proved, the Commission can decide on a financial sanction.

The Commission’s main work concerns possible offences under administrative law provisions. Any discriminatory acts committed by individuals or public or private-law entities constitute administrative offences punishable by a fine, irrespective of the issues of civil liability or of any other penalty which may be applied.

Additional penalties may also be decided upon, depending on the seriousness of the offence and the amount of the fine imposed. Attempted offences and negligence are also punishable.

If a punishable administrative offence is committed through failure to carry out a duty, the enforcement of a penalty and payment of a fine do not exempt the offender from performing the said duty. If a single act is simultaneously a criminal offence and an administrative offence, the responsible official is always punished under the criminal law.

When the Commission receives reports or complaints about matters which may be considered to be acts of racial discrimination, it has to launch the trial process. The general inspectorates are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate courts prepare the case files.

When a case file has been prepared and the Standing Committee has indicated its view to the CICDR, a decision has to be taken by the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities. The Commission is currently dealing with 34 cases. So far there has been one conviction, of a private-law enterprise.

CONTACT 

Commission for Equality and against Racial Discrimination (CICDR)
Comissão para a Igualdade e contra a Discriminação Racial
Rua Álvaro Coutinho, 14,
P-1250-025 LISBOA
Tel.: +351 21 8106103
Fax: +351 21 8106117
E-mail: cicdr@acime.gov.pt