por Portugal aos Órgãos de Controlo da Aplicação
dos Tratados das Nações Unidas em Matéria de
Summary record of the 1311th
meeting : Portugal. 10/03/99. CERD/C/SR.1311. (Summary Record)
COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, Fifty-fourth
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 1311th MEETING, Held
at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Thursday, 4 March 1999, at
Chairman: Mr. ABOUL-NASR
later: Mr. SHERIFIS
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS, COMMENTS AND INFORMATION
SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Fifth to eighth periodic reports of Portugal
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS, COMMENTS AND INFORMATION
SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION (agenda
Fifth to eighth periodic reports of Portugal
1. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr. Leitão, Mr. Marrecas
Ferreira, Mrs. Dias Nobre, Mrs. Cardoso Ferreira, Mr. Pereira de
Santa Clara Gomes and Mr. Calheiros da Gama (Portugal) took places
at the Committee table.
2. Mr. LEITÃO (Portugal) explained that although Portugal
had not submitted its reports separately and earlier, it had been
carrying out sustained action to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
Portuguese society had changed greatly since 1991, and democracy,
dialogue and international and intercultural cooperation had all
taken stronger root.
3. Highlighting significant developments in constitutional and ordinary
legislation, he said that the latest revision of the Constitution,
in 1997, had reformulated the provisions intended to combat racial
discrimination and had introduced express provisions to prohibit
racist as well as Fascist organizations (art. 46, para. 4). It also
stipulated that deputies to the Assembly would lose their seats
if they were members of a racist organization. Article 13 already
specified that no one could be privileged, given preference, deprived
of a right or exempted from a duty on grounds, inter alia, of race,
language or place of origin. The constitutional revision ensured
speedy and prioritized legal procedures for the protection of individual
rights, freedoms and guarantees, including those of the victims
of racial discrimination. At the same time, the new right to legal
protection against any form of discrimination covered discrimination
based on ethnic origin (art. 26, para. 1). Revised article 240 of
the Penal Code (racial or religious discrimination) increased the
penalties for racial discrimination. It also now prohibited discrimination
on the grounds of national or religious origin, in addition to race,
colour and ethnic origin, and made the denial of war crimes or crimes
against peace and humanity with the intention of inciting to racial
or religious discrimination a punishable offence.
4. The creation of the post of High Commissioner for immigration
and ethnic minorities and of the Inspectorate-General for Internal
Administration had contributed to the effective protection of the
rights of victims of racial discrimination. The Inspectorate-General
monitored the actions of the security services and forces, and citizens'
fundamental rights and freedoms. The two authorities worked together
to protect the rights of immigrants and ethnic minorities, an example
being a study conducted on improving security force intervention,
which had led to the current far-reaching reform in action on behalf
of immigrants and ethnic minorities. The Inspectorate-General considered
all the complaints transmitted to it by the High Commissioner, and
instituted investigations where it deemed necessary. The High Commissioner
had brought to the attention of the Procurator-General of the Republic
all cases deemed to warrant criminal investigation.
5. As a member of the Citizens' Administration Forum, which encompassed
public and private bodies, workers' unions and other social partners,
the High Commissioner had proposed a project for the adoption of
measures to ensure respect for the rights of immigrant citizens
in their dealings with the administration. Anti-racist, human rights
and immigrant associations now had increased opportunities to act
on behalf of victims by participating in legal proceedings for racially-motivated
crimes, unless the victim expressly opposed such participation.
Their participation entailed no payment of legal costs.
6. New laws had also been passed on asylum (Law 15/98); on the entry,
sojourn and departure of foreigners (Decree Law 244/98) and on foreign
workers (Law 20/98), which abolished all restrictions to hiring
aliens and contributed to equality of treatment. A new Consultative
Council for Immigration Questions (Decree Law 39/93) would begin
its work in March 1999, with the participation of immigrant associations.
7. Portugal took an active part in anti-racist initiatives at the
international level, such as the Council of Europe's "All different,
all equal" campaign, with the collaboration of government bodies,
including the Ministry of Justice, and many non-governmental organizations
(NGOs). It worked closely with the Council of Europe's European
Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and participated
actively in the work of the Human Rights Commission. It had likewise
taken part in European Union action, such as the establishment of
the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, and the
European Year Against Racism. The European Commission's survey on
racism and xenophobia in Europe published at the end of that year
had found that the Portuguese saw themselves as the least racist
people of the European Union, with 58 per cent of them declared
non-racists. He was pleased to be able to present the Committee
with a copy of the survey, which was intended to serve as a basis
for guidelines for future European Union efforts to combat racism.
Such results did not blind the Portuguese to verified racist incidents,
but gave them the confidence to act effectively to make Portugal
an increasingly non-racist society.
8. Although legal measures were necessary to combat racism, they
were not sufficient. In order to create a just society in which
all citizens, regardless of their race or ethnic origin, could live
in harmony, Portugal was placing emphasis on the fight against exclusion
and the extension of the concept of citizenship. The constitutional
principle of equality of rights between nationals and aliens, specific
legislation and the prohibition of racial discrimination all helped
to ensure the effective equality of rights. However, the authorities
were aware of the need to continue working to ensure a better insertion
of Portuguese gypsies into society and the harmonious integration
of immigrants. Many thousands of immigrants and members of ethnic
minorities had had access to social housing in recent years under
special rehousing plans and to a guaranteed minimum wage, and had
benefited from various other non-discriminatory integration measures.
9. The Portuguese delegation was sure that the Committee's comments
would lead to positive developments in Portuguese action to eliminate
all forms of racial discrimination.
10. Mr. GARVALOV (Country Rapporteur) thanked the High Commissioner
for immigration and ethnic minorities for his statement, which had
clarified several important points, and commended the high quality
of the periodic report. Significantly, the report included self-criticism,
giving a clearer picture of Portugal's position vis-à-vis
the Convention. Some of it appeared to be more relevant to other
treaty bodies, but Part II related more specifically to implementation
of the Convention.
11. Even the newly revised Constitution still concentrated on discrimination
in general. Several articles enshrined the principles of equality
and non-discrimination, including that between citizens and non-citizens,
but the only specific examples given were protection of workers
and equality of education. Racial discrimination was not specifically
prohibited, since racism was not defined separately. It was logical,
given Portugal's political past, that racism was placed within the
context of the Fascist ideology, but racial discrimination as defined
in the Convention was a much broader concept. Comparable comments
had been in the 1998 report of the Council of Europe's European
Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).
12. The core document (HRI/CORE/1/Add.20) raised questions regarding
the applicability of the Convention in Portuguese domestic law,
stating as it did that article 8 of the Constitution provided for
direct applicability "insofar as this is expressly provided
for in the relevant constitutive treaties", whereas the Convention
itself did not specifically include any such provisions.
13. With regard to Portugal's demographic composition, paragraph
16 spoke of the "insertion" of gypsies into Portuguese
society, whereas references to foreign immigrants spoke of "integration".
In English, the two words were not synonymous. Although the Portuguese
legal system did not permit reference to race, paragraph 16, in
specifying that the gypsies had been in Portugal since the fifteenth
century, made it clear that Portugal recognized their different
ethnic origin. According to the ECRI report the Roma or gypsy community
represented a major victim group in racist incidents, followed by
black people from Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa. Yet that
report stated that the Constitutional Court had, to date, dealt
with the question of racial discrimination only with respect to
members of the Romany community and referred also to a decision
of the Constitutional Commission concerning a decree of 1920 which
provided for close supervision of Roma/gypsies in order to prevent
"frequent anti-social activities". More clarification
was required on that point and its meaning, since it gave the impression
that the Roma were subject to special attention by the Constitutional
Court. Commission on Human Rights document E/CN.4/1998/77, effectively
a reply by the Portuguese Government, referred to the "Working
Group on Gypsy Equality and Social Integration", referred to
in the report as the Working Group for the Equality and Insertion
of Gypsies, and acknowledged that the Roma/gypsy communities in
Portugal suffered from "social, economic, cultural and even
political exclusion" but did not recognize any racial discrimination
against them. It also described the steps being taken to promote
equality and integration including a national programme against
poverty and the creation of an educational guide covering the entire
curriculum, with due regard to the gypsy culture. Although those
measures were very commendable, concerns about racial discrimination
against Roma in Portugal remained.
14. Paragraph 20 acknowledged that Portugal was "a multi-ethnic
and multiracial society", which conflicted with the statement
that no reference to race was permitted. Although paragraph 19 stated
that the Constitution prohibited the "conducting of surveys
on the racial or ethnic component of the population", it should
be pointed out that the United Nations Population Commission recommendation
that the category of "race" should be optional in censuses
concerned only the methodology of State census-taking. None of the
optional categories could be a legal barrier for a State to gather
information on the demographic composition of its population. Moreover,
in the definition of racial discrimination, in article 1.1 of the
Convention, race was only one component, the others being colour,
descent, or national or ethnic origin; the terms "descent"
or "national or ethnic origin" could not, therefore, be
substituted for the term "race".
15. The report mentioned no ethnic group other than gypsies. Table
1 listed the foreign population resident in Portugal, but did not
specify whether they were permanent or temporary residents. He felt
that the separate grouping of "Europe" and "other
countries of Europe" was divisive; such categorization bordered
on discrimination. Some clarification of the statistics was needed.
16. He asked the Portuguese delegation to comment on the assertion
in the Minority Rights Group International's World Directory of
Minorities 1997 that in 1992 restrictions had been imposed on the
entry into Portugal of persons from its former colonies, specifically
Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde and Mozambique. The Minority Rights
Group International also maintained that although Portugal had granted
a certain degree of self-government to the islands of Madeira and
the Azores, both those territories continued to press for greater
autonomy and were critical of Lisbon's rule. The Committee would
like to know more about Portugal's policy with regard to such minorities.
How did the Portuguese Government define "national minorities",
and what were those national minorities? Portugal had signed the
Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities; to which ethnic groups or national minorities did Portugal
apply that instrument?
17. Concerning paragraph 27 of the report, according to which the
strengthening of European identity mentioned in paragraph 5 of article
7 of the new text of the Constitution did not affect non-European
citizens, who retained all the rights recognized to them by a democratic
society, he asked how that was ensured in practice. He was pleased
to learn that, under the Constitution, stateless persons and European
Union citizens enjoyed the same rights as Portuguese citizens.
18. Paragraphs 40 to 52 were of great importance, dealing as they
did with a number of incidents of racial violence in Portugal perpetrated
in recent years by skinheads against blacks, foreigners and Roma.
It was to the credit of the State party that it had honestly presented
such information in the report. The establishment of the Office
of the High Commissioner for Immigration and the Ethnic Minorities
was a commendable initiative.
19. Turning to article 2 of the Convention, he summarized the main
points made in paragraphs 67 to 90 and commented in particular on
a case in which the Administrative Court of First Instance of Porto
had found to be null and void the regulations of the municipality
of Vila do Conde requiring all gypsies without official residence
to report their arrival and to leave within eight days (paras. 85-88).
The case was interesting in that in its ruling, the Court had not
referred to the problem of Roma as such, but to the invalidity of
the administrative act. He would have expected the Court to take
up the substance of the issue. The Committee commended the Portuguese
Supreme Court for revoking the decision of the District Court of
Lamego, which had increased a sentence for a gypsy woman convicted
of drug trafficking because gypsies supposedly had a natural propensity
to engage in drug trafficking (para. 89).
20. Regarding the State party's implementation of article 4, he
again drew attention to the absence of specific legislation prohibiting
racial discrimination. Article 189 of the Criminal Code punished
attempts to destroy a national, ethnic, religious or social group,
and although it was similar to the provisions of the Convention,
it did not, as required under article 4 (b) of that instrument,
declare illegal and prohibit organizations which made such attempts.
Law No. 28/1982 did, however, establish the competence of the Constitutional
Court to declare that an organization had a Fascist ideology and
to prohibit it. That was a positive measure, and it was to be hoped
that the Constitutional Court would also have competence to prohibit
racist organizations and groups, as specified in article 4 (b) of
21. Concerning the case of the Fascist organization "National
Action Movement" (MAN) discussed in paragraphs 100 to 193,
he noted that after MAN had disbanded itself, the Constitutional
Court had ruled that as that organization had ceased to exist, there
had no longer been any reason to declare it to be Fascist. Could
the Portuguese delegation explain why the Constitutional Court should
not have ruled that during its period of existence, MAN had in fact
been a Fascist organization?
22. Paragraphs 106 to 234 provided a wealth of information on legal
measures to prevent and combat racial discrimination. Unfortunately,
virtually nothing was said about actual administrative practice,
and no examples were given of case law. The Committee would have
liked to see information about specific cases in Portuguese courts,
23. The State party had taken many steps to comply with the provisions
of article 7. He noted with satisfaction that in recent years Portugal
had launched a number of practical initiatives in the area of education
and vocational training to promote the social and professional integration
of immigrants and persons belonging to ethnic and linguistic minorities.
24. Referring to the question of Macao, he observed that the majority
of the population was Chinese-speaking, yet official documents and
decisions were produced in the Portuguese language only. That put
the majority population at a serious disadvantage. Furthermore,
despite guarantees of equality in the Constitution and in Portuguese
labour legislation, women still did not receive equal pay for equal
work. As the majority of women in Macao were of Chinese origin and
their mother tongue was Chinese, that was tantamount to racial discrimination.
In closing, he would like to know how well the people of Macao were
informed about the provisions of the Convention.
25. Mr. VALENCIA RODRIGUEZ, commending the Portuguese delegation
for its presentation, referred first to the statement in paragraph
19 of the periodic report that problems of racial discrimination
arose essentially within the country and were not connected with
nationality. More information was needed on that point in order
to understand the reason for past xenophobic incidents.
26. Paragraphs 20 to 22 spoke of the effort to legalize the situation
of clandestine immigrants, an initiative which the Committee applauded.
Could the Portuguese delegation describe how such persons applied
to have their papers brought into order? What percentage of applications
submitted had actually been approved?
27. Paragraph 36 stated that situations connected with the right
to asylum, expulsion and extradition could give rise to discriminatory
treatment or behaviour. Could specific examples of incidents be
given? He also asked for information on paragraphs 187 and 195 concerning
cases in which religion and conscientious objection had resulted
in racial discrimination.
28. Regarding the situation of the Roma, he would like to know more
about the group responsible for monitoring the application of measures
for the integration of gypsies, which had replaced the Working Group
referred to earlier (paras. 56 and 57).
29. He commended the Portuguese Government for the detailed information
given on serious cases of racial discrimination and hoped that it
would continue to inform the Committee of measures taken to prevent
and punish such acts. The Committee would also appreciate receiving
a copy of the exact wording of article 240 of the Penal Code, which
dealt specifically with racial discrimination.
30. According to paragraph 98, article 160 (1) of the Constitution
sanctioned deputies who were members of Fascist organizations. He
would have thought that a universal prohibition of such involvement
would have been sufficient. Why was it necessary to make special
reference to deputies?
31. The provisions of article 46 (1) of the Constitution prohibiting
armed associations of a military, militarized or paramilitary type
and racist organizations or organizations which followed a Fascist
ideology were restrictive and did not cover all organizations which
promoted or incited racial discrimination, as required under article
4 of the Convention.
32. As for the disbanding of the "National Action Movement",
which was discussed in paragraphs 100 to 103, that body was clearly
racist. Judging by the information received, it appeared that no
punishment had been imposed on any member of that organization,
although its very existence had constituted an offence. It seemed
that the authorities were more concerned about acts of violence
than acts of discrimination.
33. The Ombudsman's recommendation in connection with the orders
to demolish Roma dwellings in Vila Verde (para. 105) was to be commended.
The Committee looked forward to learning how the courts ruled on
the case, which apparently was still pending.
34. Turning to the implementation of articles 5, 6 and 7 of the
Convention, he noted that foreigners illegally on the national territory
who had managed to enter without being detained could only be detained
for expulsion proceedings on a court warrant (para. 168). Did that
encourage foreigners who had entered illegally to try to avoid being
detained for the first 48 hours so as to be able to benefit from
35. On the implementation of article 6 of the Convention, more specific
information should have been provided on how Portugal met the requirement
regarding access by victims of racial discrimination to courts of
justice or other competent bodies and how adequate compensation
36. In respect of article 7, the description of educational programmes
and efforts to provide schooling for all children regardless of
ethnic or national origin was most interesting; unfortunately, nothing
was said about other aspects of that article, namely culture and
37. Finally, the Portuguese Government should do more to publicize
the content of the Convention, its country report and the Committee's
38. Mr. DIACONU, while praising the quality of the report, said
that the description of the Portuguese legal system belonged more
appropriately in the core document. He was pleased to note that
the public authorities seemed to be motivated in many cases by a
firm resolve to stamp out and punish acts of racial discrimination.
Perpetrators of violent acts were severely punished, for example
by an 18-year prison sentence. A local authority decision to expel
the Roma community from Vila Verde had been quashed. On the other
hand, a court had decided to impose a stiffer penalty on a Roma
woman on the grounds that drug trafficking was endemic in the Roma
community. Although the Supreme Court had set aside the judgement,
the incident demonstrated the need for better training of judges,
law enforcement officers and others involved in such cases.
39. He welcomed the establishment of an Interdepartmental Commission
for the Integration of Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities and asked
whether its membership included representatives of immigrants and
minorities and whether there was some arrangement for consulting
such groups. He commended the provision of schooling facilities
for children from immigrant and minority families and asked whether
the curriculum included tuition in their mother tongue and culture.
40. Article 3 of the Convention dealt not only with apartheid but
also with racial and ethnic segregation. Had any trends towards
segregation been noted in Portugal, particularly in urban areas,
and what action was being taken to prevent such phenomena?
41. He welcomed the training of mediators to facilitate dialogue
between the central and local authorities and Roma communities.
The Roma were a disadvantaged group needing careful attention. He
also welcomed the measures to regularize the status of foreigners
residing in Portugal, thereby giving them access to a wide range
of economic and social rights.
42. He understood that the naturalization regime in Portugal discriminated
between Portuguese-speakers and others, fewer years of residence
in Portugal being required for the former. He drew attention in
that connection to article 1, paragraph 3, of the Convention which
stipulated that naturalization provisions should not discriminate
against any particular nationality. Moreover, whereas Portuguese-speaking
immigrants were eligible to vote in municipal elections after two
years of residence, immigrants from other countries were eligible
only after three years and provided that a reciprocal arrangement
for Portuguese citizens existed in their country of origin. He stressed
that the principle of reciprocity was not applicable to human rights.
43. He asked whether the Convention took precedence over domestic
legislation and whether it could be invoked directly before the
44. Mr. de GOUTTES was pleased to note that the delegation was headed
by the High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities,
a key player in the anti-racist struggle in Portugal. The Committee
would be interested to hear a description of what his work involved
in practice. The report was full of useful information, although
some details belonged in the core document or Portugal's report
to the Human Rights Committee. The Committee was particularly pleased
with the detailed demographic data and the frank description of
incidents of racial discrimination against blacks and Roma and of
the role of racist groups such as neo-Nazis and skinheads.
45. Paragraphs 80 to 90 of the report provided a particularly interesting
and comprehensive review of case law relating to minorities and
racial discrimination. He welcomed the 1994 Supreme Court condemnation
of a judgement to the effect that the Roma had a natural propensity
to engage in drug trafficking, which was a disheartening indication
of the stereotypes that persisted among certain judges.
46. The 1992 and 1996 campaigns to regularize the status of illegal
immigrants addressed a highly sensitive issue, not only for Portugal.
To what extent had they achieved the successful integration of members
of the target group? Were there any plans for a third campaign?
47. The new Penal Code referred to in paragraph 97 of the report
seemed to fulfil the requirements of article 4 of the Convention
with respect to the prosecution of acts of racial discrimination.
However, he wished to know whether the offence of dissemination
of racist ideas and that of denial of services, property or access
to public places on racist or ethnic grounds were punishable under
48. He would appreciate additional information concerning the mediators
responsible for ensuring liaison between the Roma community and
public and private institutions mentioned in paragraph 234 of the
49. During the Committee's consideration of Portugal's previous
report in 1991, the delegation had said that Portugal would contemplate
making the declaration under article 14 of the Convention. What
was the present situation? Of the 27 States parties that had made
the declaration, 16 European States had also recognized the individual
petition procedure before the European Court of Human Rights. The
two mechanisms were cumulative since the scope of the Convention
was broader in terms of non-discrimination on racial or ethnic grounds
than the European Convention on Human Rights.
50. Mr. Sherifis took the Chair.
51. Mr. LECHUGA HEVIA praised the report for its frank admission
of Portugal's problems in ensuring full compliance with the Convention.
52. He, too, would like to know what practical measures had been
taken by the group that had replace the Working Group referred to
in paragraph 16 of the report.
53. Paragraph 25 of the report referred to a minority language,
Mirandês, spoken in north-eastern Portugal. He was interested
in hearing more about its origins and whether it was spoken by an
54. He would also appreciate more recent information on the skinhead
phenomenon and the extent of skinhead influence in Portuguese society.
55. According to a report on the activities of the High Commissioner
for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities, discrimination against the
Roma community was more serious in rural areas. Could the High Commissioner
account for that phenomenon? Was it related to levels of education
or literacy rates?
56. He asked whether there were separate statistics for the Roma
indicating, for example, level of education, access to health facilities,
morbidity rates and average life expectancy.
57. According to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance,
a Portuguese newspaper had published a report on the murder of a
taxi driver in terms likely to arouse racial hatred. The Ethical
Council of Portuguese Journalists had criticized the newspaper's
attitude. Under article 4 of the Convention, the newspaper in question
should have been punished for the dissemination of racist ideas.
58. Mr. YUTZIS said he was particularly pleased with the detailed
demographic data and the review of relevant case law presented in
the Portuguese report. He also commended the frank recognition of
the existence of certain "conflict scenarios" - situations
of tension affecting minority and ethnic groups. The question arose
whether those scenarios were exceptional or symptoms of a deeper
malaise. He viewed the case of the Roma as a symptom rather than
an exception and the report itself had focused on the community's
problems. The image of a community with an innate propensity to
engage in drug trafficking was striking and conducive to its "criminalization"
by the general public, which considered it permissible to demolish
the community's housing. According to the NGO SOS Racismo, the local
population in Vila Verde had set up an armed people's militia and
had barricaded the entrance to the Roma camp, searching everyone
who approached the area. He asked the delegation to comment on the
59. Paragraphs 85 and 86 of the report described the behaviour of
the municipality of Vila do Conde, which had persisted in issuing
regulations directed against the Roma despite the disapproval of
the Attorney-General and the Ombudsman. According to SOS Racismo,
the authorities involved had never been punished. The NGO also referred
to a questionnaire published in the magazine Visão in 1996,
according to which 32 per cent of student respondents wished to
expel the gypsies from Portugal. Another questionnaire published
in the newspaper Público in 1998 had found that 27 per cent
of young people in the 13 to 18 age-group would "feel bad"
if their neighbour was a gypsy. SOS Racismo concluded that a variety
of factors contributed to the formation of the public image of the
"gypsy-trafficker", an image that legitimized the persecution
of a community that was no less "Portuguese" than the
rest of the population. He asked the delegation to comment on those
60. Paragraph 210 of the report claimed that there was no limitation
on the access of foreign nationals to employment in Portugal. According
to SOS Racismo, Decree-Law No. 99/77 of 17 March 1977 required that
at least 90 per cent of the staff of certain companies should be
Portuguese, a provision which had allegedly led to the large-scale
exclusion and exploitation of foreign workers. According to paragraph
212 of the report, article 14 of the Constitution established the
principle of equality of housing for non-nationals and nationals.
But according to SOS Racismo, Decree-Law No. 797/76 of 6 November
1976 confined access to low-cost housing to Portuguese citizens,
so that the majority of immigrants were forced to live in prefabricated
units. He would welcome the delegation's comments on those allegations.
61. Mr. van BOVEN said that he would have expected to find some
information on Macao in Portugal's report, following the Committee's
recommendation (in its report to the General Assembly, A/53/18,
para. 493 (c)) that States parties should provide information on
Non-Self-Governing Territories. The report did refer to East Timor,
but principally with regard to the reception of Timorese people
in Portugal. However, although Portugal was still officially the
colonial Power in East Timor, it was clearly impossible for it to
report on a territory that was de facto under another Power.
62. Portugal had been frank enough to recognize that problems existed:
the first step towards solving problems was to recognize them. The
incidents referred to in paragraphs 41-52 were perhaps only the
tip of the iceberg, however, and he wondered whether the judiciary
and law enforcement officials were sufficiently alert to the problems
to prosecute when incidents occurred. The authorities in most countries
were lax in such matters: did Portugal have any policy to increase
the vigilance of such officials?
63. Portugal had co-sponsored a draft resolution to the General
Assembly strongly urging States parties "to accelerate their
domestic ratification procedures with regard to the amendment to
the Convention concerning the financing of the Committee (A/C.3/53/L.18/Rev.1,
para. 13). He hoped that, if it had not yet done so, Portugal itself
would soon formally accept that amendment. He welcomed the information
in the report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
that Portugal was - or had been in 1997 - preparing to make a draft
declaration under article 14, and asked whether that was indeed
64. With regard to article 3, he requested further information concerning
trends in the segregation of, for example, the Roma, particularly
in relation to housing and education, and concerning Portugal's
policy in that regard.
65. According to the report of the European Commission against Racism
and Intolerance (para. 19), the experience of racism in police units
had made it clear that training measures should be taken to enable
the police to assume their responsibilities fully. Since that was
also the thrust of the Committee's General Recommendation XIII of
1993, he would welcome information concerning the development of
such training in Portugal.
66. The CHAIRMAN, speaking as a member of the Committee, said that
it was clear that Portugal was making great efforts to face up to
phenomena of racial discrimination, racism and xenophobia. As mentioned
in paragraph 53 of its periodic report, a number of steps had been
taken to deal with specific problems. He drew attention, however,
to the Committee's General Recommendation XVII, on the establishment
of national institutions to facilitate the implementation of the
Convention, and he wondered whether the delegation had considered
establishing such an institution. Publicizing the contents of the
Convention for the benefit both of officials and of the general
public was another way in which Portugal could achieve the goals
it had described in its report.
The meeting was suspended at 17.33 and resumed at 17.42.
67. Mr. MARRECAS FERREIRA (Portugal) said that
the Convention was directly applicable in Portugal's legal order,
but under article 8.2 of the Constitution, which applied to duly
ratified international conventions, rather than article 8.3, which
had been drafted with European Community legislation in mind. Moreover,
all international legal instruments were directly applicable under
article 16.1 of the Constitution. International treaties took precedence
over all domestic legal instruments.
68. Mr. LEITÃO (Portugal) said that great importance was
attached in the training of law enforcement officials to the subject
of the immigrant and gypsy communities. It was important to establish
a dialogue between those groups and law enforcement officials and
he himself had taken part in discussions where the various parties
had worked together to solve problems. In-service courses were an
important element of police training, and distance learning materials
had been developed to enable the police nationwide to take part.
The quality of police work was also given high priority, and officials'
performance of their duties was monitored from a human rights standpoint
by a Government-appointed inspector.
69. Responding to the question why the word "insertion"
was applied to the gypsies as opposed to the word "integration"
for immigrants, he said that "insertion", in Portuguese,
conveyed more adequately the sense of integrating a group while
fully respecting its cultural characteristics. Some members of the
Council of Ministers, when discussing the establishment of the Working
Group for the Equality and Insertion of Gypsies, had felt that it
was very important to emphasize that aspect of their integration.
The Working Group had been set up to analyse the situation of the
gypsies with a view to developing specific measures to protect their
rights and to improve their situation generally. It recognized that
the gypsies had for some time been the victims of social exclusion
and that it was necessary to improve their level of participation
in society. Members of the Group had conducted visits and held discussions
with the gypsies, and had found that steps needed to be taken, in
particular, with regard to education, an area in which the Working
Group had successfully involved the Ombudsman; the development of
low-cost housing with due regard for the cultural characteristics
of a group that had, until recently, been nomadic; and training
for work, an area in which a variety of projects were under way,
some of them originally developed for the general population and
others specifically geared to gypsy needs.
70. Direct dialogue with local authorities at all levels had proved
very important in establishing a good rapport with the gypsy community.
Universities and social research institutes had presented proposals
for studies aimed at improving the work of integrating the gypsies.
Lastly, the Ministry of Culture had supported a travelling exhibition
demonstrating the significance of gypsy culture for Portuguese culture.
The meeting rose at 6 p.m.