por Portugal aos Órgãos de Controlo da Aplicação
dos Tratados das Nações Unidas em Matéria de
COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE, Eleventh
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 166th MEETING, Held at the Palais des Nations,
on Tuesday, 16 November 1993, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. VOYAME
Consideration of reports submitted by States
parties under article 19 of the Convention (continued)
Initial report of Portugal
Organizational and other matters (continued)
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED
BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 19 OF THE CONVENTION (agenda item
Initial report of Portugal (CAT/C/9/Add.15,
1. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mrs. Alves
Martins, Mr. Bastos, Mrs. de Gouveia Araujo, Mr. Henriques Gaspar,
Mr. Gomes Dias and Mrs. Mota Matos (Portugal) took seats at the
2. Mr. HENRIQUES GASPAR (Portugal) said the
fact that the report had been submitted considerably later than
the date provided for in article 19, paragraph 1, of the Convention
in no way reflected any weakening of Portugal's commitment to its
obligations under the Convention. In fact, the delay had made it
possible to refer in the report to recent legislation, including
a law on international cooperation covering, inter alia, extradition
and the assistance referred to in articles 8 and 9 of the Convention.
3. While the report was being drafted, work
had started on the revision of the Penal Code with the aim of introducing
new types of crimes, particularly those connected with international
commitments assumed by Portugal. Under the heading of crimes against
humanity, they included new types of crimes of torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment described in terms of the
gravity of the means used and a new crime of failure by a hierarchical
superior to report an offence.
4. The first draft, prepared by a committee
set up by the Minister of Justice, had been completed in 1991 and
had just been published. The revised draft was awaiting consideration
by the Council of Ministers and would then be transmitted to the
Assembly of the Republic.
5. New legislation had also been adopted in
areas relevant to the subject-matter of the Convention against Torture.
A new organizational act for the National Republican Guard published
in Decree-Law 231/93 of 26 July 1993 took account of the provisions
of the 1987 Code of Penal Procedure.
6. An important change in the organization of
the courts had been introduced by Decree-Law 321/93 of 15 September
1993. Certain courts would now be open on Saturdays, Sundays and
public holidays in order to deal with urgent matters provided for
in the Code of Penal Procedure and in the Act on the organization
of the guardianship of minors.
7. As far as penal procedure was concerned,
the aim was to ensure full compliance with the rule that anyone
arrested had to be brought before the examining magistrate within
at least 48 hours in order for the arrest to be confirmed.
8. Training in criminal law, penal procedure
and human rights was being given to the police force and to prison
staff, especially with regard to police conduct, police-citizen
relations and interpersonal relationships in prisons.
9. For example, efforts were being made to improve
training and information in police academies for the judicial police
and the public security police through an in-depth study of United
Nations and Council of Europe instruments on human rights and police
conduct. Those instruments were disseminated in police academies
and in the higher ranks of the National Republican Guard. Particular
attention was being paid to information for prison guards and teaching
staff. Courses on criminal law were given by professors from university
10. In accordance with article 17 (g) of the
new Prison Staff Rules, adopted by Decree-Law 174/73 of 12 May 1993,
a higher educational level was now required for prison guards. The
Rules also provided for training courses for senior officials and
ongoing training courses for prison staff.
11. In 1992, the Prison Administration and the
Institute for Social Rehabilitation had taken the initiative of
providing information for detainees on their rights under Portuguese
penal procedure, including the right to a lawyer or, for foreigners,
to an interpreter and the possibility of asking for medical assistance
when necessary. That information was provided in Portuguese, German,
English, Spanish and French and was issued to arrested persons when
they entered prison.
12. If allegations of violations of the rights
and freedoms of citizens were brought to the authorities' attention
despite such training and information activities, disciplinary or
criminal proceedings were instituted. In addition, the public prosecutor's
department was responsible for supervising the procedural activity
of criminal police bodies and the Attorney-General had the possibility
of ordering general and periodic inspections of the judicial police.
Such inspections had been carried out every three years.
13. Mr. BEN AMMAR (Country Rapporteur) said
that the core document on Portugal (HRI/CORE/1/Add.20) gave a clear
idea of Portugal's political structure and legal framework. Following
the 1974 revolution, Portugal had become a democratic State and
a party to many international and European instruments guaranteeing
respect for and the protection of human rights.
14. Portugal's initial report (CAT/C/9/Add.15)
was in keeping with the Committee's reporting guidelines, but regrettably,
had been submitted three years late. The Committee nevertheless
believed that Portugal intended to honour its international commitments
and had established the necessary structures for the preparation
15. In the Constitution, Portugal had made it
clear that it intended to implement the provisions of the Convention,
as shown by article 25, which stated that the moral and physical
integrity of individuals was inviolable and that no one should be
subjected to torture or to cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment
or punishment. Article 18 of the Constitution provided that the
Convention was directly applicable to and binding on public and
private bodies. It was worth nothing that, if a court refused to
take account of a provision of an international convention, it was
mandatory for the public prosecutor to appeal against that decision
to the Constitutional Council.
16. The Committee welcomed the fact that article
16 of the Constitution provided that the constitutional and legal
norms relating to fundamental rights should be interpreted and applied
in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
17. However, the statement in paragraph 15 of
the report that the Universal Declaration had entered into force
for Portugal on 9 March 1978 was inappropriate: the Declaration
was morally binding and did not have the binding legal nature of
the Covenants and Conventions. Perhaps reference should have been
made to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
18. The Committee also noted that article 12
of the Constitution safeguarded the right to petition and that article
22 provided for the State's joint liability for any act or omission
of its officials resulting in a violation of rights and freedoms.
Article 32 of the Constitution stated that evidence obtained through
torture was null and void and article 19, that the declaration of
a state of siege or emergency could not be invoked as a justification
for torture and could never affect fundamental rights such as the
right to life and personal integrity and the right of defence of
19. However, he believed that two matters give
rise to substantive problems.
20. Paragraph 29 of the core document stated
that the organs of supreme authority, namely, the President of the
Republic, the Assembly, the Government and the courts had to observe
the principles of separation and interdependence established by
article 114 of the Constitution. What effect might that provision
have on the independence of the judiciary?
21. Paragraph 30 of the core document indicated
that the Government had competence to legislate on rights, freedoms
and safeguards, the definition of offences, sanctions and security
measures, as well as criminal procedure. Those prerogatives were,
however, excessive and might well turn the executive into a superpower;
they were, moreover, not compatible with democratic principles.
22. With regard to the territory of Macao, which
was at present under Portuguese administration and was to be returned
to the People's Republic of China in December 1999 under a Joint
Declaration signed by Portugal and the Chinese Government, China
had promised to respect the legal, social and economic system in
force on that date and to guarantee civil and political rights.
However, the Joint Declaration did not mention the Convention against
Torture or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
and that was a serious omission, since both instruments should apply
to the whole of Portuguese territory, including dependent and trusteeship
territories. Did the Portuguese Government intend to remedy that
situation by extending the scope of the Convention, in view of the
fact that Macao had its own legislation and legislative bodies?
That question had also been raised by the Human Rights Committee
when it had considered the report of Portugal (CCPR/C/42/Add.1).
23. As far as legislation was concerned, article
412 of the Penal Code provided for the punishment of violence, serious
threats or any other illegal means of constraint designed to obtain
a written or oral statement from an accused person. In the Committee's
view, such offences were restrictive and did not square with the
purpose of the Convention and the definition of torture contained
in article 1: the idea of punishment was not present. Article 2
of the Convention provided that each State party should take effective
legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent
acts of torture. Whether the measures adopted by Portugal had been
sufficiently effective remained to be seen.
24. In paragraph 35 of the report, it was stated
that the Decree-Law of 21 September 1990 required the judicial police
to refrain from inflicting torture, inhuman, cruel or degrading
treatment and gave them the right not to execute and, if necessary,
to disregard orders or instructions to apply such treatment. Did
such provisions also apply to other police bodies?
25. Paragraph 54 indicated that radical changes
had been made in order to reinforce further the prohibition of torture
and other ill-treatment by imposing severe sanctions on persons
committing such offences. Could the Portuguese delegation tell the
Committee what those changes were?
26. In connection with article 4 of the Convention,
the report listed the sentences applicable to 16 types of crime,
but the list did not contain the crime of torture or cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment. Perhaps it came under the various offences
connected with misuse of power.
27. The Committee would like to have statistics,
as requested in the general guidelines, on the number of cases brought
by the Ombudsman or the public prosecutor, the number of complaints
filed by victims, their families or counsel, and the results of
28. He had no particular questions on article
10. It seemed that the Portuguese authorities were making great
efforts to educate, train and inform the various professional bodies
involved in preventing and punishing torture, as well as the public
29. He particularly wished to know what legislative
provisions applied to police custody and pre-trial detention and
whether they fully complied with article 11 of the Convention on
the obligation to ensure a systematic review of "interrogation
rules, instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements
for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of
arrest, detention or imprisonment". He also asked whether a
list of detention centres was included in legislative instruments
or elsewhere, how long police custody lasted under normal circumstances
and in a state of emergency, whether legal counsel could be present
during interrogations, not only under normal circumstances, but
also during states of emergency and states of siege, the point at
which the detainee's family was notified of his arrest, the stage
at which a medical doctor was allowed to visit a detainee, whether
the doctor could be chosen freely by the detainee or his family,
was designated by the medical board or chosen by the authorities,
and whether the Attorney-General, his representatives or the Provedor
de Justiça (Ombudsman) had access to police stations and
other detention centres at any time of the day or night without
having to give prior notice.
30. Pre-trial detention was of particular concern,
as it could last 12 or 16 months or even up to 3 or 4 years, depending
on how many persons had been accused or had been the victims of
a crime and whether organized crime was involved. Detaining people
for such lengthy periods was contrary to the principle of the presumption
31. As a State party to the European Convention
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, Portugal had been visited by one of the committees
which had been set up under the Convention and was responsible for
inspecting prisons and detention centres. Had the committee's report
been made public and, if not, did the Government intend to make
32. Reliable sources had indicated that the
efforts being made by Portugal's authorities, including the establishment
of the Provedor de Justiça (Ombudsman), the Portuguese Association
for the Support of Victims (APAV) and educational programmes, were
not having much of an impact.
33. Amnesty International had stressed that
acts of violence and torture at police stations and in civil and
military prisons were still being reported. It had also stated that
judicial investigations were often extremely slow, frequently lacked
thoroughness and were often inconclusive. In fact, very few judicial
investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment had
resulted in the prosecution of law enforcement officials, even when
the crimes had been particularly serious and medical reports had
corroborated the allegations.
34. Amnesty International had raised the matter
of cases of torture with the Portuguese authorities before making
them public in a document dated October 1993. For example, the document
referred to the cases of Mário Manuel da Luz and Isidro Albuquerque
Rodrigues, both of whom had been charged with ordinary criminal
offences. Mário Manuel da Luz had been held at Linhó
prison until his death in June 1989. According to his fellow prisoners,
he had been systematically beaten every day. The prison director
had been suspended from his post, but no administrative or judicial
investigation had been conducted in the four years since the death
of Mário Manuel da Luz. Isidro Albuquerque Rodrigues had
been arrested by the judicial police. He had been subjected to torture
during his detention and had subsequently passed on the names of
his aggressors to the media. A communication sent by Amnesty International
to the Ministry of Justice had received no reply. In May 1992, the
Attorney-General had confirmed that an investigation was under way,
although its outcome was still unknown.
35. Amnesty International had also reported
the case of José Luis Barros and Paulo Jorge Gomes Almeida,
who had allegedly been violently beaten by two officers of the Public
Security Police (PSP), in September 1990. One of the officers had
been acquitted and the other had been given a light sentence, but
had later been pardoned under the amnesty passed in July 1991.
36. Portugal should consider making it compulsory
for members of the police force and law enforcement agencies to
respect the dignity and physical and moral integrity of the persons
in their charge at all times. It was to be hoped that the proposed
amendments to the Code of Penal Procedure and other instruments
would ensure fuller compliance with the provisions of the Convention.
37. The CHAIRMAN, speaking in his capacity as
Alternate Country Rapporteur, thanked the representative of Portugal,
for his oral introduction to the initial report.
38. The absence of a definition of torture in
Portuguese law was regrettable and apparently undermined the direct
application of the Convention. Article 1 of the Convention was not
covered by the vague reference to "violence, serious threats
or any other illegal means of constraint" punishable under
article 412 of the Penal Code. Portugal had to specify exactly which
crimes constituted torture or ill-treatment and impose the corresponding
penalties. He requested information on article 132, paragraph 2
(b), of the Penal Code, as referred to in paragraph 18 of the report,
on cases brought before the courts and on judgements handed down.
39. Paragraphs 116 to 126 did not explain the
legal basis for the implementation of article 3 of the Convention.
The report also did not provide adequate details of whether there
had been cases of torture or ill-treatment in Portugal in recent
years and, if so, why they had occurred, why they had not been prevented
and what had been done to punish the perpetrators. It thus did not
comply with the general guidelines regarding the form and contents
of periodic reports (CAT/C/14).
40. Amnesty International had provided extensive
information on cases of torture and ill-treatment, some of which
dated back a long time, and had drawn attention to the fact that
judicial investigations had tended to be slow, were not thorough
enough, or resulted in light sentences for those found guilty, especially
when law enforcement officials were involved. What had been done
in response to those allegations?
41. It was regrettable that law enforcement
officials were sometimes quite brutal in their treatment of suspects
and detainees. More often than not, they went unpunished and, aware
of their impunity, continued to engage in practices which were contrary
to the provisions of the Convention. The table in paragraph 172
of the report implied that there were few actual cases of police
violence, but that had been strongly refuted by the information
contained in the reports compiled by Amnesty International and other
international human rights organizations. Moreover, the table gave
information and figures only for the period from 1987 to 1989. What
had happened since 1989?
42. Mr. LORENZO thanked the representative of
Portugal for his country's detailed report and for his interesting
43. The information on what could be termed
widespread cases of torture and ill-treatment provided by reliable
sources gave rise to serious concern. The Committee traditionally
criticized less developed countries for failing to eradicate torture
and other regrettable practices. Although such violations of human
rights could never be justified, those countries' weak economies
and low level of development helped to explain why such practices
persisted. The Committee should, however, reserve its strongest
condemnation for any European country guilty of similar violations,
for which there could be no excuse.
44. Paragraph 31 of the report referred to the
special safety measures authorized in Portugal, including isolation
of the prisoner from the prison population; removal of, or restrictions
on, outdoor periods; the use of handcuffs, and confinement in a
special security cell. He wished to know how long such measures
could be applied because, if they lasted too long, they could be
regarded as cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment.
45. Mr. EL IBRASHI said that paragraph 55 of
the core document stated that "The military courts have jurisdiction
to try essentially military offences", but also that "If
there is good cause, the law may give these courts jurisdiction
over certain deliberate offences that may be considered to amount
to essentially military offences". What kind of offences did
the courts therefore deal with and had any civilians been brought
46. Paragraph 111 of the report said that there
were certain rights, freedoms and safeguards that could not be suspended
or set aside during a state of siege or a state of emergency. However,
paragraph 113 went on to state that "the suspension of the
exercise of those rights which may be set aside must always observe
the principles of equality and non-discrimination". It was
not clear which rights were being referred to. How many times had
the state of emergency been declared and did it affect any of the
rights provided for in the Convention?
47. Paragraphs 191 to 196 on the implementation
of article 14 referred only to compensation for physical violence,
but did not mention compensation for moral and mental torture. Was
that because there were no provisions in Portugal's legislation
to deal with such torture? If such provisions did exist, what cases
had been brought before the courts?
48. Paragraph 194 said that "applications
for compensation must be submitted to the court competent to judge
the criminal offence" and that "Acquittal in criminal
proceedings does not of itself entail loss of the right to compensation".
He asked whether that was a reference to State responsibility and
49. He requested clarification on the reference
in paragraph 56 of the report to the National Republican Guard's
role as "legal guarantor of the exercise of the rights and
fundamental freedoms of citizens". Which rights in particular
had been entrusted to the National Republican Guard?
50. Mr. BURNS said that he agreed with other
members about the importance of having a definition of torture.
Portugal had been requested to provide statistical details, yet
it seemed virtually impossible for a country to distinguish between
cases involving overzealous policemen and acts of torture unless
it had such a definition in its domestic law.
51. With regard to the question of obeying the
orders of a superior, he asked whether such an argument was in any
way recognized as a defence or as an extenuating circumstance during
52. Portugal clearly had a comprehensive formal
system of protection, but, as the report of Amnesty International
suggested, a gap existed between theory and practice. Was there
an informal system of impunity in Portugal? If so, what measures
were being taken by the Government to combat it? He had in mind
the reporting, timely investigation and vigorous prosecution of
complaints in the courts. He had seen nothing in Portugal's report
to indicate that the problem of torture was taken seriously by the
medical profession. He requested further details on how the medical
profession and the public prosecutor's department operated within
53. An amnesty had been granted in Portugal
at least once in the recent past and he wondered how often amnesties
had been proclaimed in the past decade and whether they were of
a general nature or only for a certain category of accused persons
in prison. He noted that, in one of the few cases in which a prison
officer had been convicted of torture, he had been amnestied.
54. Referring to paragraph 61, he noted that
article 6, paragraph 1 (e), of the Decree-Law, stated that a request
for international cooperation in criminal matters would be refused
if the act to which it related was punishable by death or by life
imprisonment. Did that mean that, if a Canadian sexual psychopath
had killed a number of women and then fled to Portugal, the Government
of Portugal would refuse a request for cooperation because the act
was punishable by life imprisonment?
55. Turning to paragraph 172, he said he was
pleased to see that the Provedor de Justiça, (Ombudsman)
had such broad powers. At the same time, he asked what the term
"legal proceedings" meant in that paragraph. Did it refer
to pre-trial or to subsequent detention? Was the term "penal
establishments" a reference to police stations? He wondered
why the table in paragraph 172 provided no information later than
1989 and whether the information was comprehensive. It was surprising
that there had been only one case of police violence recorded in
1988 and only two in 1989.
56. Paragraph 116 stated that, under article
33 of the Constitution, Portuguese citizens could not be extradited
or deported from the national territory. If a Portuguese national
alleged to have committed torture in a foreign territory was arrested
in Portugal, how did the Government of Portugal proceed?
57. During the 48 hours of detention, could
the accused have access to counsel? Could the 48-hour period be
exceeded under certain circumstances?
58. Paragraph 182 related to the case of a Government
official who had been sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for committing
homicide with a firearm. He inquired whether the use of the firearm
had been found to be negligent or wilful; in the latter case, the
sentence appeared to be very lenient.
59. According to paragraph 197, article 32,
paragraph 6, the Constitution of Portugal stipulated that evidence
obtained through torture was null and void. With that in mind, he
would like the delegation of Portugal to comment on the case of
Isidro Albuquerque Rodrigues, as described in the report of Amnesty
International, who had claimed that his confession had been extorted
by torture, but who had nevertheless been sentenced to 18 years'
imprisonment. Had there been a judicial inquiry into his allegation
and, if so, what had its findings been? Amnesty International had
also reported the case of Paulo Jorge Gomes Almeida, who had suffered
grievous bodily harm at the hands of the police; one police officer
had been found guilty, but had benefited from an amnesty before
beginning his sentence. How was it possible to reconcile amnesty
for Government officials who committed acts of torture with article
2, paragraph 1, of the Convention, which required States to take
effective measures to prevent acts of torture? In that connection,
what were the concept and the rationale behind the Law on Judicial
Secrecy, to which reference had been made in the report of Amnesty
60. Mr. SORENSEN said that he would not take
part in the discussion, inasmuch as Portugal had not decided to
make public the confidential information available to the Council
of Europe's European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, of which he was a
member. He would comment only on medical matters.
61. With regard to paragraph 37, he welcomed
the Code of Ethics drafted by Portuguese physicians in 1982. But
did the Government of Portugal acknowledge the Code and was it binding
on the Government? Could physicians be brought to court for violating
the Code, in particular physicians at risk working for the police
or in prisons? Were the latter physicians employed by the Ministry
of Justice or the Ministry of Health? How was their independence
ensured? Could they appeal to a medical board if they were accused
of wrongful behaviour?
62. Turning to paragraphs 191 to 196, he recalled
that, under article 14 of the Convention, rehabilitation must be
as full as possible, and that included medical rehabilitation for
the victims of torture. He asked whether rehabilitation centres
existed and pointed out that the United Nations technical assistance
services would be willing to assist Portugal in setting up such
63. Lastly, he referred to the United Nations
Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. The Fund was in need of resources
and any contribution would be welcome, as a gesture to show a willingness
to rehabilitate the victims of torture. Acknowledging the existence
of torture victims was seen as a form of redress.
64. Mr. DIPANDA MOUELLE, joining the other members
of the Committee in thanking the delegation of Portugal for the
wealth of information provided in its report, asked for clarification
on a number of points.
65. The reference in paragraph 10 to "wrongful
interference in private life, the home, correspondence or telecommunications"
might give rise to confusion. In his view, the concept of "wrong"
should be interpreted in more rigorous fashion; it would be better
to rely exclusively on article 18, paragraph 2, of the Constitution
of Portugal, as set out in paragraph 16 of the report. He asked
the delegation of Portugal to comment.
66. No mention was made of the penalties imposed
for the offences described in paragraph 17 and he requested further
details so that the Committee could verify whether they were consistent
with the spirit of the Convention.
67. Concerning paragraph 19, he would like to
know whether the law punished all sexual acts with detainees, even
if such acts were consensual. If so, did the law provide for extenuating
68. He wondered whether the phrase "if
this is necessary to protect his privacy" in paragraph 26 was
69. Paragraph 28 discussed the use of force
and he inquired what kinds of force were employed.
70. In paragraph 57, it would appear that the
compensation described in Decree-Law No. 324/85 concerned government
officials, rather than the victims of torture, as required under
71. Lastly, could the delegation of Portugal
provide a description of the judicial system and explain how the
independence of the judiciary was ensured?
72. Mr. KHITRIN asked the delegation of Portugal
to enumerate the main activities of the public prosecutor's department.
In particular, did it monitor the legality of judicial proceedings?
What was its role in investigating cases involving torture?
73. He also wished to know whether the Provedor
(Ombudsman) had a staff and how much staff members earned. Was the
Provedor really independent and what was his relationship to the
public prosecutor's department?
74. What was the status of military tribunals?
Portuguese law allowed military tribunals to sit in judgement for
certain kinds of crimes; could the delegation of Portugal inform
the Committee what kind of crimes were involved? Furthermore, who
punished a military serviceman guilty of having committed a crime?
Where were such persons held and what were the conditions of their
75. Mr MIKHAILOV congratulated the Portuguese
delegation on the report, which appeared to reflect substantial
changes, at least in terms of legislation, since the beginning of
the transition to democracy. In addition to the many questions already
asked by other members of the Committee, he wished to raise a number
of points of his own in connection with the report.
76. Referring to the fact that, according to
the Constitution, the provisions of all duly ratified international
conventions were incorporated into domestic law (paras. 48 and 49
of the report), he asked whether courts could invoke article 1 of
the Convention relating to the definition of torture and whether
they did so in practice.
77. He wished to know whether Portugal had signed
the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism referred
to in paragraph 61 and whether specific legislation existed for
the suppression of terrorism.
78. He noted from paragraphs 120 and 121 that
the extradition procedure in Portugal consisted of an "administrative
phase" and a "judicial phase". He wished to know
how those phases were related and whether the judicial phase was
subordinate to the administrative phase.
79. With regard to the question of compensation,
he noted that, according to paragraph 191, several avenues were
open to persons seeking compensation: the general principle was
stated in article 483 of the Civil Code, while article 22 of the
Constitution dealt more specifically with the liability of public
authorities and was complemented by Decree-Law 48051 of 31 November
1967. Compensation for persons acting in an official capacity who
had been victims of violence was governed by other legislation cited
in paragraph 57. He wished to know what the relationship was between
the Civil Code and the Decree-Law and what mechanisms existed for
providing compensation. He also wanted to know whether, in the view
of the Portuguese delegation, a proper balance had been struck on
the legislation between the rights of ordinary citizens and those
of public officials.
80. He presumed that capital punishment had
been abolished, but it was not clear what penalties had taken its
ORGANIZATIONAL AND OTHER MATTERS (agenda
item 2) (continued)
Consideration of the Committee's methods
of work (continued)
81. The CHAIRMAN, referring to the Committee's
discussion on the contents of the annual report (CAT/C/SR.156),
said that it was his understanding that the annual report would
be confined to the full text of the Committee's conclusions and
recommendations and refer to the relevant summary record for details
of the discussion of the reports of States parties and the questions
and replies arising from them.
82. It was so decided.
Appointment of a new Alternate Country Rapporteur
83. Mr. SORENSEN said that the illicit publication
in a Cypriot newspaper of parts of the report by the European Committee
for the Prevention of Torture, of which he was Vice-Chairman, had
placed him in a somewhat embarrassing position, in that his own
independence and impartiality might be regarded as compromised.
Under the circumstances, he would feel happier if the Committee
would allow him to step down as Alternate Country Rapporteur for
84. The CHAIRMAN suggested that Mr. El Ibrashi
should replace Mr. Sorensen as Alternate Country Rapporteur for
85. It was so decided.
Working methods of other treaty bodies (continued)
86. Mr. EL IBRASHI reported on the forty-ninth
session of the Human Rights Committee and, in particular, on the
recommendations which had been discussed concerning working methods.
In his view, some of those recommendations were of great relevance
to the Committee against Torture. Of particular interest was the
decision by the Human Rights Committee to revise rule 70 of its
own rules of procedure concerning the submission of reports. In
future, States parties would be reminded where appropriate of the
availability of the advisory services. In addition, the Committee's
own comments on the reports of States parties would be restructured
and would include an introduction, followed by sections dealing
with various difficulties impeding the application of the Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, positive aspects, principal subjects
of concern, and proposals and recommendations. It had also been
agreed that the Committee's observations would be made available
to delegations at the last meeting of the session and made public
immediately thereafter. Documents from non-governmental organizations
would be officially distributed to all Committee members in the
original languages. Another important decision had been that, where
a State party's third periodic report revealed a grave human rights
situation, the Human Rights Committee would ask the Secretary-General
to inform the competent organs, such as the Security Council.
87. Other recommendations, which had been discussed,
but not adopted, were also of interest to the Committee against
Torture. In particular, the Working Group responsible for reviewing
working methods had recommended that States parties whose reports
were five years or more overdue should be sent one final note verbale
urging them to submit their reports as soon as possible, with the
warning that failure to do so would result in a report being prepared
by a member of the Committee on the basis of available sources of
88. The Working Group had also recommended that,
where an initial report was clearly deficient, the Committee should
request resubmission in the near future, and had proposed that a
list should be drawn up of issues to be covered in initial reports,
with a view to reducing the number of deficient initial reports.
Two other recommendations were that the Committee should appoint
members responsible for briefing it on the activities of other United
Nations organs and international human rights bodies and that a
computer database should be installed in the Centre for Human Rights.
89. The CHAIRMAN thanked Mr. El Ibrashi for
his report and suggested that it should be left to the new membership
to take any final decisions on the Committee's working methods on
the basis of the information which had been presented and the Committee's
90. It was so decided.