Portugal


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The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2020/21. This report documents the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2020, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty lnternational’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others. During 2020, the world was rocked by COVID-19. The pandemic and measures taken to tackle it impacted everyone, but also threw into stark relief, and sometimes aggravated, existing inequalities and patterns of abuse.

Portugal Human Rights 2020

In 2020, The government’s response to COVID-19 exposed gaps in the rights to health and housing. Discrimination against Roma continued. A man died following a beating in border police custody. Prosecutions and convictions for gender-based violence remained low.

Background

From 18 March 2020 to 2 May 2020, the government declared a state of emergency to control COVID-19, imposing limitations to freedoms of movement and assembly, including for religious purposes or protest. The government declared a second state of emergency on 9 November 2020 until the end of the year, restricting freedom of movement and gatherings.

Right to health

The Portuguese Medical Association reported that over half of doctors lacked adequate PPE during the first state of emergency, and that one third continued to lack PPE until the end of June 2020. By November, 8,755 health professionals had contracted COVID-19.

Older people in care homes accounted for one third of COVID-19 deaths, which reached 6,972 by the end of 2020. A criminal investigation was ongoing into the deaths of 18 people at a nursing home in Reguengos de Monsaraz, following a report concerning failures to follow government health guidelines.

With sub-standard conditions and overcrowding persisting in some prisons, the government released over 2,000 prisoners to limit contagion. However, some prisoners faced homelessness on release.

Right to housing

The government suspended foreclosures and evictions during the state of emergency and until the end of 2020. Nevertheless, many families continued to lack access to adequate housing. In March 2020, just before the suspension was in place, the City Council in the capital, Lisbon, evicted about 70 people who had occupied social housing for lack of alternatives. At least nine evicted families reported that they had not been offered alternative accommodation and had to sleep in vans, tents or entrance halls of neighbouring buildings.

There were several reports that shelters for the homeless were both insufficient and of poor quality. Support for the homeless was largely left to local authorities and volunteers.

Rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

In March 2020, the government temporarily granted access to health and social care to asylum-seekers and non-nationals with pending residency applications.

The government relocated only 72 unaccompanied minors from Greece out of 500 it had pledged to receive.

The death in custody in March 2020 of a Ukrainian national, following a beating by border police at Lisbon airport, exposed failures in the protection of people during border procedures. Three border police officials were charged with aggravated murder in September.

In April 2020, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) expressed concern about reports that unaccompanied children were detained at airports. In June, the Border Control Services announced that the Child Protection Commission would ensure support for children in Lisbon airport’s border patrol facilities.

Discrimination

In April 2020, the HRC expressed concern over continuing racial discrimination against Roma and people of African descent in education, employment and housing, and about reports of hate speech and hate crimes.

Violence against women and girls

In April 2020, the HRC expressed concern at the low levels of reporting, prosecution and conviction in relation to gender-based violence.

In July 2020, prosecutors charged a mother for subjecting her daughter to female genital mutilation, the first such case to go to trial in Portugal.

 

Portugal Newsroom



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