Relatórios apresentados no quadro do Conselho
da Europa e Decisões do Comité de Ministros
sobre a Aplicação da Carta Social Europeia
Ref.: CPT/Inf (98) 1 [EN]
- Publication Date: 13 January 1998
Report to the Portuguese Government
on the visit to Portugal carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 20 to 24 October 1996
The Portuguese Government
has requested the publication of this visit report and of
its report in response. The response of the Portuguese Government
is set out in document CPT/Inf
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Copy of the letter transmitting
the CPT's report
A. Dates of the visit, composition of the
delegation and establishments visited
B. Context of the visit to Portugal
Co-operation received during the visit
Immediate observations under Article 8, paragraph 5 of the
FACTS FOUND DURING THE VISIT AND ACTION PROPOSED
Conditions of detention
1. Material conditions
Health care services
the letter transmitting the CPT report
Strasbourg, 18 March
In pursuance of Article 10, paragraph
1, of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture
and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, I have the
honour to enclose herewith the report to the Government of
Portugal drawn up by the European Committee for the Prevention
of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CPT) following its visit to Portugal from 20 to 24 October
1996. The report was adopted by the CPT at its 32nd meeting,
held from 10 to 14 March 1997.
The CPT requests the Portuguese authorities
to provide, within six months, a report setting out details
of the measures adopted to implement the recommendations in
this report, and their reactions and responses to the comments
and requests for information (the Committee's recommendations,
comments and requests for information appear in bold in the
I am entirely at your disposal to answer
any questions concerning either the report or the future procedure.
Finally, I would be grateful if you could
acknowledge receipt of this letter.
Yours faithfully, Claude
President of the European Committee
for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman
or Degrading treatment or Punishment
Mr João José Gomes Caetano
Ministério dos Negócios
Director de Serviços das Organizações
Direcção-Geral dos Assuntos Multilaterais
Largo do Rilvas
P - 1354 LISBOA Codex
A. Dates of
the visit, composition of the delegation and establishments
1. In pursuance of Article 7 of the European
Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment (hereinafter referred to as "the
Convention"), a delegation of the CPT carried out a visit
to Portugal from 20 to 24 October 1996.
2. The delegation consisted of the following
members of the CPT:
- Mrs Nadia GEVERS LEUVEN-LACHINSKY (Head of the delegation);
- Mr John OLDEN;
- Mr Stefan TERLEZKI.
It was assisted by:
- Mr Rod MORGAN (Professor of Criminal Justice, University
of Bristol, United Kingdom) (expert);
- Mr David TONG (Acting Consultant Psychiatrist, Forth Valley
Health Board, United Kingdom) (expert);
- Ms Silvia CAMILO (interpreter);
- Mrs Sophie ENDERLIN (interpreter);
- Ms Melanie ROE (interpreter).
and was accompanied by Mr Mark KELLY of the CPT's Secretariat.
3. The CPT's delegation visited Oporto
of the visit to Portugal
4. The 1996 visit to Portugal was one
which the Committee considered to be "required in the
circumstances" (cf. Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Convention).
A delegation of the CPT first visited Oporto Prison in May
1995, as part of the Committee's second periodic visit to
Portugal. The primary purpose of that visit was to interview
prisoners on remand who had recently been in police custody;
accordingly, the delegation focused its attention on only
one part of the prison - C Wing - which accommodated almost
all newly-arrived prisoners.
The gravity of its delegation's findings
on that occasion led the CPT to conclude that all inmates
in C wing at Oporto Prison were being held in inhuman and
degrading conditions. The Committee's 1995 visit report inter
alia recommended that the conditions of detention in that
Wing be the subject of a full review, with the aim of ensuring
that the physical and mental integrity of inmates held there
was guaranteed. As is the Committee's usual practice, it requested
that the Portuguese authorities provide a response to the
recommendations set out in its visit report within six months
(i.e. by 20 June 1996).
By mid October 1996, the response of the
Portuguese authorities had still not been received (1), and the Committee decided to carry out a further visit to
Oporto Prison, in order to enable a CPT delegation to examine
the current situation in that establishment in greater depth.
received during the visit
5. The Portuguese authorities were notified
of the CPT's intention to carry out a visit to Oporto Prison
on 16 October 1996 (i.e. four days before the visit began).
Notwithstanding this short period of notice, the delegation
benefitted from the unqualified co-operation of the authorities
at national level, both before and during its visit. It also
enjoyed excellent co-operation from management and staff in
At the end of the visit, a fruitful meeting
was held in Oporto Prison with Dr. Celso Manata, Director-General
of the Prison Service; Dra. Maria José Mota de Matos,
Head of Division in the Directorate General of Prison Services;
Dr. Hernãni Vieira, the Director of Porto Prison and
Dra. Isabel Raimundo of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
Committee is particularly grateful to Dr. Manata and to Dras.
Mota de Matos and Raimundo for having travelled to Oporto
to be present on that occasion.
In short, the CPT welcomes the spirit
of close co-operation which prevailed before and during its
visit to Portugal, which was fully in accordance with Article
3 of the Convention.
observations under Article 8, paragraph 5 of the Convention
6. During the meeting held with the Portuguese
authorities at the end of the visit, the CPT's delegation
invoked Article 8, paragraph 5, of the Convention and made
immediate observations in respect of the situation which is
described in this report. In so doing, the delegation made
clear that it considered that there was an urgent need to
improve the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty
at Oporto Prison, and requested the Portuguese authorities
to provide a written response to its observations "as
soon as possible". The delegation's oral remarks were
confirmed in writing shortly after the visit.
The CPT regrets to record that, to date,
no written response has been received to its delegation's
immediate observations under Article 8, paragraph 5, of the
II. FACTS FOUND DURING
THE VISIT AND ACTION PROPOSED
7. As already indicated in the CPT's 1995
report, Oporto Prison accommodates male prisoners in four
parallel Wings (each of three storeys), connected by a long
corridor. The great majority of male inmates are accommodated
- three to a cell - in cells which were originally designed
for single occupancy. The prison also provides separate dormitory
accommodation for women inmates.
Notwithstanding its official capacity
of 500, at the time of the 1996 visit, the prison was holding
1348 inmates: 1071 men and 72 women on remand; 193 male and
12 female sentenced prisoners. This represented an increase
of over 200 prisoners as compared to the population at the
time of the CPT's 1995 visit.
8. The CPT's delegation heard a considerable
number of allegations of physical ill-treatment of inmates
by custodial staff at Oporto Prison.
Those allegations were consistent as regards
the forms of ill-treatment involved (namely, blows with batons,
punches and kicks), and as regards the manner in which it
had allegedly been inflicted (namely, removal of particular
inmates from their cells after the Wing concerned had been
locked for the night and subsequent beating of those inmates
by prison staff in the main corridor which connects the Wings
and/or at the "control" point at the end of that
The credibility of those allegations was
supported by the content of certain formal complaints by prisoners
which were seen by the delegation and - in some cases - by
9. By way of illustration, reference might
be made to the two following cases:
a male remand prisoner stated that,
during the night of 1 to 2 September 1996, he banged on
his cell door, in order to ask for medication for a stomach
complaint. He alleged that the cell door was eventually
opened by a number of prison officers, who said that they
would take him to the infirmary, but instead took him to
the main corridor, where they punched and kicked him. He
further alleged that he was then taken to the infirmary,
given medication by a nurse and brought back to the main
corridor, where he received a second beating.
The prisoner's medical record contained
the following entries - "2.9.96 Assaulted. Complaining
of various pains. On examination, 3 excoriations and haematomata
on face and neck, large haematoma on left arm. Complaining
of chest pain, but no abnormality detected on ausculation.
4.9.96 Complaining of intense thoracic pain with difficulty
in breathing. Vomited dark red blood. On examination, sonorous
and sibilant noises, clearer in the right chest." These
injuries are consistent with the prisoner's allegations
of assault. It might be added that, during the delegation's
visit, this inmate was transferred to an outside hospital,
after complaining of continuing respiratory difficulties.
a male remand prisoner stated that,
during the night of 9 to 10 June 1996, following a dispute
with another prisoner, he was removed from his cell by a
number of prison officers. He alleged that those officers
took him to one end of the main corridor (near to the entrance
to the prison's chapel), where they punched and kicked him.
The prison officers concerned then took him to the infirmary
where, he claims, they again assaulted him.
The prisoner's medical record recorded
that he had become agitated during a night visit to the
infirmary on the date in question, and had been restrained
by prison officers. He received stitches in a wound on the
bridge of his nose and was referred to an outside hospital,
where he was informed that he had sustained a broken nose.
On medical examination by one of the delegation's doctors,
he was found still to bear an obvious deformity on the bridge
of his nose. Such an injury is consistent with the prisoner's
allegations of assault.
10. The CPT recommends that a person
or authority independent of the prison service carry out a
thorough investigation into the extent of the problem of ill-treatment
by prison staff of inmates at Oporto Prison and that appropriate
action be taken against any prison officers found to have
engaged in such behaviour.
11. The CPT's mandate is not limited to
ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty which is
inflicted or authorised by prison staff. Naturally, the Committee
pays close attention to such ill-treatment; nevertheless,
it is also very concerned when it discovers a prison culture
which is conducive to inter-prisoner intimidation/violence.
As had been the case during the CPT's
1995 visit, numerous prisoners at Oporto Prison told the delegation
that incidents of inter-prisoner violence were virtually a
daily occurrence. Many of those inmates freely admitted that,
in consequence, they lived in fear of their fellow inmates.
The existence of this problem was also widely acknowledged
by custodial and support staff in the establishment.
Again, the credibility of statements made
about such events was supported by the content of certain
formal complaints which were seen by the delegation and -
in some cases - by medical evidence. In one such recent case,
a prisoner's medical file recorded that, on 12 September 1996,
he had sustained a peri-orbital haematoma, with excoriation
on the left eyebrow, as a result of an assault by another
12. By all accounts, the problem of inter-prisoner
violence at Oporto Prison is inextricably linked to the widespread
circulation of drugs within the establishment. Indeed, it
was advanced by prisoners, prison staff and members of the
health care team that perhaps up to 90% of prisoners were
regular users of hard drugs, most notably of heroin and cocaine.
The delegation also received indications - including from
prison officers themselves - that some prison staff currently
employed in the establishment may be involved in supplying
such drugs to inmates. At the very least, there was plainly
widespread and far-reaching tolerance of the presence, circulation
and use of hard drugs in Oporto Prison.
13. To these troubling elements must be
added the fact that the level of staffing on the Wings was
manifestly inadequate. As an example, at the time of the visit,
only three custodial staff had been allocated to A Wing, which
housed upwards of 400 prisoners. Further, custodial staff
rarely -if ever - ventured into the accommodation areas whilst
prisoners were unlocked from their cells (which was the case
for much of the day). In consequence, supervision of the activities
of prisoners was practically non-existent. Moreover, even
when staff were present on the Wings, they were clearly reluctant
to intervene in disputes between prisoners. The delegation
itself had occasion to witness two prisoners physically attack
each other, whilst a member of staff stood idly by.
The delegation was also concerned to find
that certain functions which would normally be performed by
prison staff had been delegated to a small number of privileged
prisoners ("faxinas"). Most notably, such inmates
apparently determined the cells to which newly-arrived prisoners
were allocated, had authority to transfer a prisoner from
one cell to another within a given Wing, and maintained the
records of inmate movements between Wings. Indeed, on a number
of occasions during the visit, prison officers accompanying
the delegation were unable to locate particular inmates without
consulting the privileged prisoners who had been entrusted
with these tasks.
This abrogation of responsibility for
security functions (which properly fall within the ambit of
custodial staff) reinforced the delegation's impression that
- as had been the case during the CPT's 1995 visit to C Wing
- prisoners minded to exploit their fellow inmates enjoyed
a virtually free hand.
14. The CPT considers that an effective
strategy to tackle inter-prisoner intimidation/violence should
seek to ensure that prison staff are placed in a position
to exercise their authority in an appropriate manner. In particular,
staff should be in a position more closely to supervise the
activities of prisoners. It follows that a balance must be
struck between prisoners' privacy and their supervision, and
between prisoner choice and regime restrictions. Far from
impinging upon the quality of a regime which an establishment
is able to offer, such an approach can serve to foster a safer
When incidents of inter-prisoner intimidation/violence
do occur, staff must be both resolved and properly trained
to intervene. Further, in the aftermath of such events, care
will be required to ensure that measures directed at curtailing
the activities of intimidating/violent inmates do not have
an adverse effect upon the prison population at large. In
this respect, the prison system as a whole may need to develop
the capacity to ensure that potentially incompatible categories
of prisoners are not accommodated together.
Finally, prison staff are unlikely to
be able to protect prisoners if they fear for their own safety.
This implies inter alia that the level of staffing must be
sufficient to enable prison officers effectively to support
each other in the exercise of their supervisory tasks. It
also requires a willingness to address the issue of managing
inter-prisoner violence during initial and ongoing training
programmes for staff of all grades.
The CPT recommends that the Portuguese
authorities carry out without delay a thorough investigation
of the nature and scale of the problem of inter-prisoner violence
at Oporto Prison. More generally, it invites the Portuguese
authorities to devise a strategy to address the problem of
inter-prisoner violence, in the light of the remarks set out
1. Material conditions
15. The cellular accommodation at
Oporto Prison is currently being renovated. The cells are
being fitted with new windows and doors, re-painted, tiled
and equipped with "simple" sanitation (placement
of an unscreened lavatory in each cell). Work had been completed
in all of A Wing and half of C Wing and, at the time of the
1996 visit, it was planned that this "rolling programme"
The CPT welcomes this development; however,
it has reservations about the installation of unscreened lavatories
in cells which are occupied by as many as three prisoners.
Even were Oporto Prison to be in a position to hold only one
prisoner per cell, the inmate concerned could still be said
to be living in a lavatory.
In the report on its 1995 visit, the Committee
stressed that either the lavatories installed in cells should
be properly partitioned from prisoners' living space (preferably
in a sanitary annex) or other means should be found to enable
all prisoners who need to use a lavatory to be released from
their cells without undue delay, including at night (cf. paragraph
99 of document CPT/Inf
(96) 31). The CPT recommends that full account be taken
of this consideration during the ongoing renovation of the
cellular accommodation at Oporto Prison. It would also like
to be informed of the date on which it is currently envisaged
that the renovation work will be completed.
16. The Committee was disappointed to
learn that its delegation found that prisoners' living areas
- including in the newly-renovated Wings - were in a filthy
and thoroughly unhygienic state. The cells were dirty and
the corridors and stairwells were littered with rotting refuse.
Moreover, notwithstanding the concerted cleaning efforts which
prisoners claimed had taken place immediately prior to the
delegation's visit, the communal lavatories in the unrenovated
Wings were in an irredeemably feculent condition.
The CPT recommends that far greater
attention be given to maintaining Oporto Prison in a salubrious
state. The measures to be taken in this respect should include
providing inmates with basic cleaning materials and ensuring
that the prison's health care service regularly monitors the
cleanliness and hygiene of the areas in which prisoners live.
17. It should be added that the bathing
facilities for male inmates were completely inadequate: one
bathhouse with 32 shower heads served the needs of over 1,200
prisoners. The CPT recommends that a high priority be given
to improving the bathing facilities for male prisoners at
18. The negative effects upon prisoners'
lives of the poor material conditions seen at Oporto Prison
were undoubtedly exacerbated by the fact that the establishment
was grossly overcrowded, especially in the areas for male
prisoners. The situation in B Wing was typical: of one hundred
and twenty-two 7m² cells (designed for single occupancy),
one hundred and eighteen were holding three prisoners and
the remaining four were holding two inmates; living space
was equally limited in the Wing's three dormitories, where
up to ten prisoners were being held in rooms measuring little
more than 16m².
Although the dormitories in the women's
unit offered more space per prisoner (e.g. up to eighteen
prisoners in some 75m²), one such dormitory was only
equipped with eight beds and the remaining ten women had to
sleep on mattresses on the floor. Moreover, at the time of
the visit, twenty-one women were sleeping on beds which had
been placed along either side of the unit's main corridor.
19. The Committee's 1995 report noted
that the Portuguese authorities had embarked on a programme
of prison building, but expressed doubts about whether building
new prison accommodation would, in itself, provide a lasting
solution to the problem of overcrowding. In this respect,
it recalled that some European States had embarked on extensive
programmes of prison building, only to find their prison populations
rising in tandem with the increased capacity acquired by their
prison estates. The CPT added that, in those countries which
enjoy uncrowded prison systems, the existence of policies
to limit and/or modulate the number of persons being sent
to prison has tended to be an important element in maintaining
the prison population at a manageable level (cf. paragraph
98 of document CPT/Inf
In their response, the Portuguese authorities
declared themselves in full agreement with the Committee's
views on this subject, and provided details of a programme
to tackle overcrowding which is amongst the most ambitious
and promising yet encountered by the CPT (cf. pages 31 to
33 of document CPT/Inf (96) 32). In April 1996, the Government
unveiled an "Action Plan for the Prison System" (2), which inter alia foresees an enhanced role for non-custodial
penalties as opposed to prison sentences, and posits reform
of the criminal justice system, with a view to reducing the
average time spent in prison on remand. Further, Decree-Law
No. 46/96 provides for a number of emergency measures designed
to rapidly increase the capacity of the prison system (including
expedited tenders for prison building contracts, compulsory
purchase orders and recruitment of additional custodial staff).
The CPT welcomes this comprehensive approach.
It considers that - if fully implemented in practice - the
principles set out in the Action Plan for the Prison System
and the measures contained in Decree-Law No. 46/96 are capable
of having a significant, nationwide impact upon prison overcrowding. The Committee wishes to receive a full account of the manner
in which the Portuguese authorities are implementing this
20. As regards, more particularly, the
situation of women held at Oporto Prison, the CPT can only
share the view recently expressed by the Portuguese Ombudsman (3) to the effect that it is highly desirable that a specific
prison for women in the North of Portugal should replace the
current women's unit as soon as possible. It would like
to receive details of the plans of the Portuguese authorities
in this respect.
21. As with so many other aspects of life
in Oporto Prison, the establishment's capacity to deliver
satisfactory regime activities was severely hampered by the
degree of overcrowding to which it was subject. Were the prison
to operate within its official capacity, it would be in the
enviable position of being able to offer a work place to every
inmate. As matters stand, although the number of available
work places (at 529) actually exceeds the prison's official
capacity of 500, less than half of the inmate population can
be offered work.
Efforts were being made to provide educational
activities and vocational training. Indeed it was noteworthy
that, at the time of the visit, some 182 prisoners were engaged
in primary, secondary and tertiary education, and 24 inmates
were taking part in vocational activities (automotive engineering
and computer science). Additional vocational training courses
were planned (auto-electrics, metalwork and photography).
The prison does not have a gymnasium or
weight-training facility, and offers very limited sporting
activities. On every second day, prisoners were offered access
(on a Wing-by-Wing basis) to an exercise yard next to A Wing,
which had been equipped with an all-weather surface. Although
in principle an excellent facility, the yard was mainly used
for five-a-side football - an activity in which a rather limited
number of inmates can participate at any one time. The exercise
yards to which prisoners had access on a daily basis were
in a poorer state of repair. The B Wing yard was in a filthy
condition, and the C Wing yard was equally dirty and featured
an uncovered sewer, which had evidently been blocked for some
considerable time. The D Wing yard, which was equipped with
goalposts, was not appreciably cleaner. The only other sporting
facilities (goalposts and basketball hoops) were located in
a courtyard used exclusively by those attending school.
22. To sum up, notwithstanding the commendable
efforts of prison staff and civilian instructors, many hundreds
of inmates at Oporto Prison are offered no purposeful activities
whatsoever. The persons concerned spend their time milling
aimlessly around the accommodation blocks and exercise yards
or simply languishing in their cells.
The CPT recommends that greater efforts
be made to provide all prisoners at Oporto Prison with a meaningful
programme of daily activities. In particular, more creative
use should be made of the establishment's existing exercise
yards, and it would be highly desirable for the prison to
be equipped with a gymnasium and/or weight-training facility.
23. In the report on its 1995 visit, the
CPT described the health care service at Oporto Prison as
being "in a state of crisis" (cf. paragraph 109
of document CPT/Inf
(96) 31). One full-time doctor and the equivalent of three
full-time nurses were attempting to provide health care to
more than 1000 male prisoners. There was a daily average of
some 20 consultations, whereas the waiting list exceeded 100.
The Committee recommended that immediate steps be taken to
reinforce the health care team responsible for male prisoners,
emphasising that a health care team responsible for more than
1000 inmates should include at least two full-time doctors.
The 1996 delegation was pleased to note
that the establishment's health care team had been substantially
reinforced. An additional full-time general practitioner had
been recruited, as had a full-time psychiatrist, a part-time
infectologist and a full-time dentist. In addition, the prison
had a complement of eight fully-trained nurses, who provided
24-hour nursing cover, including ambulatory care on the Wings.
As a result of these changes, there was apparently no longer
a waiting list to see a doctor, and all inmates who requested
a medical consultation were seen by a member of the health
care service within twenty-four hours. In addition, structural
work had begun, with the aim of enlarging the premises of
the health care service and expanding the range of services
which it could offer to inmates. The CPT greatly welcomes
24. Notwithstanding these positive findings,
the CPT wishes to stress that due attention must also be given
to the quality of health care which is provided to prisoners.
In this respect, many inmates at Oporto Prison complained
about the indifferent manner in which they had been treated
during medical consultations and/or about the absence of appropriate
follow-up care. Medical records seen by the delegation's doctors
suggested that, in certain cases, the manner in which health
care had been delivered was - at best - desultory, and - at
worst - medically negligent.
The Committee understands that the Portuguese
authorities have recently appointed a Sub-Director General
with specific responsibility for health care in prisons. It
recommends that he conduct a review of the quality of health
care being delivered to inmates at Oporto Prison.
25. The delegation's doctors were also
concerned to find that medical confidentiality was still not
ensured in an effective manner - requests by inmates to see
a doctor were transmitted by other inmates and, as in 1995,
certain prisoners assisting health care staff had access to
medical files. Moreover, it remained the case that prison
staff and inmates were able to overhear conversations between
the doctors and their patients.
The Committee must reiterate that medical
secrecy should be observed in prisons in the same way as in
the outside community. Keeping patients' files should be the
doctor's responsibility, and such files should only be accessible
to qualified members of the health care team. The CPT recommends
that steps be taken at Oporto Prison to ensure the strict
confidentiality of medical data. It also recommends that all
medical examinations of prisoners (whether on arrival or at
a later stage) be conducted out of the hearing and - unless
the doctor concerned expressly requests otherwise in a given
case - out of sight of prison officers.
26. Finally, the Committee wishes to return
to the subject of the role of prison health care services
in the prevention of ill-treatment. In the report on its 1995
visit, the CPT recommended that the record drawn up following
a medical examination of a newly admitted prisoner (or a prisoner
returning to the establishment) should contain: (i) an account
of statements made by the person concerned which are relevant
to the medical examination (including his description of his
state of health and any allegations of ill-treatment), (ii)
an account of objective medical findings based on a thorough
examination, and (iii) the doctor's conclusions in the light
of (i) and (ii). It stressed that the same approach should
be followed whenever a prisoner is medically examined following
a violent incident in prison.
In the light of its delegation's findings
at Oporto Prison during the 1996 visit (cf. paragraphs 8 to
10), the CPT recommends that formal guidance be issued
on this subject, making clear that such a procedure should
be followed on every occasion on which a prisoner sustains
injuries, including as the result of the use of force
by prison staff.