Relatórios Apresentados por Portugal aos Órgãos
de Controlo da Aplicação dos Tratados das Nações
Unidas em Matéria de Direitos Humanos*
Summary Record of the 250th
meeting : Portugal. 14/11/95. CRC/C/SR.250. (Summary Record)
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE
CHILD, Tenth session
SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 250th
MEETING, Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Thursday, 9 November 1995, at 3 p.m.
Chairperson: Mrs. EUFEMIO
CONTENTS: CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS
OF STATES PARTIES (continued)
This record is subject to correction.
Corrections should be submitted in one of the
working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and
also incorporated in a copy of the record. They should be sent within
one week of the date of this document to the Official Records Editing
Section, room E.4108, Palais des Nations, Geneva.
Any corrections to the records of the meetings
of the Committee at this session will be consolidated in a single
corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.
The meeting was called to order at 3.20 p.m.
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS OF STATES PARTIES
(agenda item 4) (continued)
Portugal (CRC/C/3/Add.30; CRC/C.10/WP.4)
1. At the invitation of the Chairperson, Mr.
de Santa Clara Gomes, Mrs. Gersão, Mr. Abreu de Lemos, Mrs.
Clemente, Mr. Gomes Pedro, Mrs. Bras Gomes and Mrs. Baptista Lopes
(Portugal) took places at the Committee table.
2. Mr. de SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said
he expected that a great deal would be learned from the upcoming
dialogue. The fact that the members of the Committee came from a
wide variety of regions and backgrounds was a great advantage. The
Committee's comments and suggestions would surely be helpful to
Portugal as it sought to carry out its policy on children and to
implement the Convention. The members of his delegation, for their
part, would do their utmost to supplement the report and answer
the questions asked by the members of the Committee. He apologized
for the late submission of the report, which was largely attributable
to the very recent change in Government.
3. The report had been prepared with contributions
from several ministries and attempted to provide a true picture
of the situation of children in Portugal. Reality was always more
complex than any oral or written descriptions, however, and that
was why, as the Committee discussed the report, it should keep in
mind a number of factors that affected the existence of Portuguese
4. Portugal was a medium-sized European country
with a population of 10 million. Its culture dated back to antiquity
and it had long had a tradition of humanism and openness to other
cultures which gave it a uniquely broad perspective. Its geographical
and political contours had been unchanged for the past 700 years,
longer than any other European nation. That was a source of pride
to Portuguese citizens and explained their society's continuity
and deep sense of tradition.
5. Rapid economic, social and political changes
had taken place in recent years. In 1974, a democratic regime had
been installed and, since 1985, Portugal had been a member of the
European Union. The economic growth rate had been accelerated, accompanied
by a number of social changes, not always for the better. Formerly
an agrarian society, Portugal was now predominantly urban in its
social structure. The extended, large family had been replaced by
smaller, nuclear family units. Per capita income was about US$ 11,000,
and that meant that, although it was a developed country, Portugal
was among the least developed States of Europe. Economic growth
had made for a considerable increase in funding for educational,
health and social welfare services, spurring rapid changes in those
6. As the country had moved towards democracy,
economic strength and social restructuring, citizens had acquired
a greater awareness of their rights. They expected far more from
their Government and were increasingly capable of criticizing its
decisions. That was one of the reasons why, the Socialist Party
had been chosen to replace the previous Government in the October
1995 elections. There was a feeling that that Government, while
concentrating on economic development, had sacrificed social concerns.
The newly appointed administration was now presenting its programme
to Parliament and one of its salient features was an emphasis on
social cohesion. A new Ministry of Solidarity and Social Security
had been created to give added impetus to efforts to unify Portuguese
society. Following the increase in the quantity of services provided
in the educational, health and social spheres, moreover, greater
emphasis was now to be placed on the quality of such services. The
reforms achieved so far were to be consolidated. More attention
would be paid to the needs and rights of the individual, as opposed
to the economic concerns of the consumer.
7. Because the structure of society had gone
from agrarian to urban, there was a need to reinforce sectors other
than the Government that could provide support. Compared with other
European countries, Portugal was deficient in the private and non-governmental
organizations that could interpret the wishes of citizens. The Government
was aware of the problem and planned to encourage the growth of
8. The Portuguese nation had existed for 850
years and that helped to account for the strong links among its
residents. Despite all the changes that had taken place in recent
years, including those in the structure of the family, Portugal
had retained its character as a compassionate society. That could
not be discerned from statistics or legislation, but the interrelations
of members of society attested to it. For example, following the
decolonization process, over 1 million foreign citizens, primarily
from Africa, had settled in Portugal, yet they had been assimilated
with minimal trauma and surprising rapidity.
9. He hoped that, with that introduction, Committee
members now had a sense of the fluidity and flavour of Portuguese
10. The CHAIRPERSON invited the Portuguese delegation
to provide information on the questions the Committee had asked
in connection with the section of the list of issues (CRC/C.10/WP.4)
entitled "General measures of implementation", which read:
"General measures of implementation" (Arts. 4, 42 and 44, para. 6, of the Convention)
1. Please provide clarification on the status
of the Convention in relation to national law. Can the provisions
of the Convention be invoked in court and have they been taken into
account in judicial decisions?
2. Please provide information on the measures
taken to improve mechanisms for collecting statistical data and
other necessary information about the status of children to enable
the Government to monitor the implementation of the Convention and
as a basis for designing programmes for the rights of the child.
3. What measures have been taken or are envisaged
to incorporate education about the Convention in training or re-training
programmes for professionals working with or for children such as
teachers, social workers and judges?
4. In view of the recent adoption by the General
Assembly of resolution 48/184 proclaiming the United Nations Decade
of Human Rights Education, has the Government considered the possibility
of using this opportunity to incorporate education about the Convention
into school curricula?
5. Please describe the steps taken to implement
article 4 concerning the obligation of the State to undertake measures
to implement economic, social and cultural rights to the maximum
extent of available resources. Please indicate what proportion of
the official budget at both central and local levels is allocated
to social priorities for children. What indicators or target figures
are used in this context?
6. Please provide information on what measures
are being taken or envisaged to ensure effective coordination between
local, regional and national entities dealing with children's issues.
Furthermore, please provide more details of the powers, status,
functions and activities of the "Provedor de Justiça"
(Ombudsman) in so far as the implementation of the Convention is
7. To what extent is international cooperation
designed to foster the implementation of the Convention?"
11. Mrs. BAPTISTA LOPES (Portugal), explaining
the status of the Convention in relation to domestic legislation,
said the Convention had hierarchical superiority over national law.
The Constitution provided for automatic acceptance of international
conventions and treaties; their provisions were directly incorporated
into domestic legislation and could be invoked by and before the
courts. The Convention on the Rights of the Child had been frequently
cited in the proceedings of courts of first instance, usually to
reinforce the provisions of domestic law relating to the primacy
of the interests of the child.
12. Mrs. GERSÃO (Portugal) said that
no statistics had been compiled with specific reference to the Convention,
but data was collected regularly and published yearly in a number
of disciplines, including health, education, social security and
economics. The initial report before the Committee was probably
lacking in statistical material compared with what the Committee
would have desired. That was partially attributable to Portugal's
lack of experience in preparing reports for the Committee and to
a slight professional bias among the report writers, who were mostly
drawn from the legal profession and whose main concern had been
to analyse the alignment of domestic legislation with the Convention.
In future, an effort would be made to compile statistics expressly
relating to the Convention and it was hoped that a working group
on follow-up to the Convention could be established.
13. A number of steps had been taken to disseminate
information about the Convention, but more could be done. Initial
training courses for professionals who worked with children in such
sectors as health, education, social services and the judiciary
did not refer expressly to that instrument, although some instructors
brought it up spontaneously in the course of their work. It was
in continuing education, however, that the Convention was more often
mentioned, perhaps because the content of such courses was more
flexible than that of initial training courses.
14. Mr. ABREU DE LEMOS (Portugal) said that
the subject of the Convention was not in fact specifically included
in the curriculum of teacher training courses. However, the Framework
Act on the Education System, adopted in 1986, gave a broad outline
of how the right of the child to education was to be implemented.
The basic principles defined in the Act also applied to the curricula
of training courses for teachers and university lecturers. A grant
from the European Union had been used to fund a programme for further
training for teachers and many of the initiatives under that programme
included a component relating to the rights of the child. In addition,
training colleges organized regular seminars for teachers on how
the provisions of the Convention should be implemented.
15. Mr. de SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal), replying
to question 4, said that, in 1989, there had been a reform of the
school curriculum which had now been put into effect in some 70
schools in Portugal and was to be extended to all schools in the
near future. The emphasis of the reform on good citizenship, respect
for others and equality of opportunity was in line with the principles
of the Convention.
16. Mr. ABREU DE LEMOS (Portugal), replying
to question 5, said that, in 1987, the period for compulsory basic
schooling had been extended from 6 to 9 years. The Prime Minister
had recently announced that education would be one of the Government's
highest priorities. Thus, there was to be a 1 per cent increase
in the budget for education by 1999 and pre-school education, which
at present was only available to 30 per cent of children of pre-school
age, was to be expanded to cover nearly 100 per cent of children
of that age group by the same year. The Minister of Education had
stressed the need for all sectors of society to share responsibility
for education within the framework of a "Pact for Education".
17. Mrs. CLEMENTE (Portugal) said high priority
was being given to meeting the needs of children placed in care
by a court order. Eight hundred and fifty minors were currently
in the care of establishments under the responsibility of the Ministry
of Justice which included reception centres, training centres and
residential homes. The cost to the State of those establishments
was 2,900,000 Portuguese contos, or a per capita cost of over 3,000
contos, per year.
18. In 1949, only 45 per cent of children in
such establishments had received compulsory education. Most of them
were at least nine years of age and, because of their marginal status,
were usually virtually illiterate and often delinquent. Today, however,
that percentage had risen to 79 per cent, since there were now far
more alternative educational programmes available for children suffering
19. Mrs. BRAS GOMES (Portugal) said that one
of the primary concerns of the new Government had been to introduce
a scheme providing a minimum guaranteed income. A non-contributory
social security scheme did exist, but did not cover all those in
need. The new scheme was to be administered by the Government working
together with local authorities and with private, non-profit-making
institutions providing social services; that meant that there would
be local involvement in decision-making. Fifty-seven per cent of
the social security budget was spent on young people and children,
28 per cent on the elderly, 5 per cent on rehabilitation for the
disabled and 10 per cent on the family and the community.
20. Mrs. GERSÃO (Portugal), replying
to the question on cooperation between bodies working with children,
said that as yet no specific mechanisms for coordination between
education services, health services and social services existed
in Portugal. However, attitudes had changed greatly in recent years
and nowadays the various sectors worked in close collaboration,
particularly where projects for children at the local level were
21. Mr. GOMES PEDRO (Portugal) said that one
example of coordination between different government departments
in efforts on behalf of children was the Interministerial Programme
to Promote Success in School (PIPSE), referred to in paragraph 155
of the report. Another programme entitled "Education for All"
was administered jointly by the Ministry for Education and the Ministry
of Health and the "Project Life" programme for drug addiction
prevention, referred to in paragraph 226, was also based on collaboration
between the Ministries of Justice, Education and Health.
22. The Government had announced its intention
to give support and encouragement to local education councils, bodies
which included representatives of such varied sectors as trade unions,
business enterprises and cultural and scientific organizations.
In order to make the Ministry of Education better able to respond
to local needs, the Department of Education had now been split up
into five separate regional branches.
23. Mrs. BRAS GOMES (Portugal) pointed out that,
in the field of social security, reorganization at the local level
had led to a better integration of policies at the national level.
24. Mrs. GERSÃO (Portugal) said a question
had been raised concerning the functions of the Provedor de Justicia,
or ombudsman for the rights of the child. A project had recently
been set up entitled "Message of the Child", which was
a telephone service replying to questions concerning children. There
were two other telephone helpline services specifically for children
who were victims of ill-treatment or in danger. The ombudsman programme,
which had been launched in September 1994, was wider in scope and
designed to assist children who believed that their rights were
not being respected. The ombudsman received about 30 calls a day
on a wide variety of questions.
25. Mrs. BRAS GOMES (Portugal), replying to
question 7, said that there had been useful exchanges between Portugal
and the Portuguese-speaking African countries where efforts on behalf
of children were concerned. Thus, experience gained on a project
launched in Portugal to combat social exclusion, which had been
partly funded by the European Union, had been applied in a number
of African countries. Nationals of those countries had come to Portugal
to follow training courses, while Portuguese experts had gone out
to help organize social services and centre-based services for children
in the countries concerned.
26. Mr. GOMES PEDRO (Portugal) said that a recent
example of international cooperation in the field of children's
rights had been the symposium held in Lisbon to draft a declaration
on the effects of stress and violence on children. The Declaration
called on Governments which had not yet ratified the Convention
on the Rights of the Child to do so immediately and on those which
had done so to establish effective mechanisms for incorporating
its articles into national legislation and to develop mechanisms
to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their actions.
27. Mr. de SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) stressed
that Portugal was concerned to promote human rights in general,
as well as the rights of the child in particular, as part of its
programme of international cooperation. Thus, in 1994, official
development assistance (ODA) provided by Portugal had totalled $230
million, some 90 per cent of which had been absorbed by Portuguese-speaking
28. The CHAIRPERSON thanked the Portuguese delegation
for the very full replies it had given to the questions asked.
29. Mrs. SARDENBERG noted that the report dealt
mainly with the legal aspects of questions relating to the rights
of the child and did not give much information on political and
administrative structures in Portugal. However, she was pleased
to learn that the Government intended to establish a permanent body
to coordinate action on behalf of children. She had noted that associations
of professionals concerned with children were being encouraged to
play a greater role. Was there any intention to establish a permanent
mechanism for consultations with non-governmental organizations
on matters related to children and, specifically, on how the Convention
was being implemented?
30. With regard to the participation of the
Parliament, she referred to the decision, mentioned in paragraph
12 of the report, to carry out an in-depth study of cases in which
children were abandoned or subjected to violence and to proceed
to a national debate on the subject. She would like to know whether
the debate had taken place and if there was a special commission
in the Parliament or a group of parliamentarians to work specifically
for the rights of children. She also wished to know whether there
were specific programmes relating to the implementation of the Convention.
31. Mr. MOMBESHORA said he would like to know
the source of funding of local and regional programmes. He assumed
that there were two types of programme, those initiated locally
and those conducted by various ministries, and he asked whether
they depended on grants from the federal Government or whether local
authorities had the power to raise funds through taxes or other
32. Mr. HAMMARBERG said that one important aspect
was that there should be some structure within the Government itself
that would review the activities of each of the ministries in a
coherent way. Since Portugal seemed to be considering decentralizing
the system and activating local and regional authorities, there
should also be some sort of system for reporting, monitoring and
coordinating at the vertical level. In that regard, a mediator might
have a role to play.
33. Consideration could also be given to a local
or regional monitoring system. Efforts should be made to build up
an effective system of coordinated and forceful implementation at
the various levels. Data should not only be assembled, but also
used in such a way as to provoke further discussion. Efforts should
be made to integrate the whole approach of the Convention into the
code of conduct for professionals in a more comprehensive manner.
Professional organizations, paediatricians, social workers' organizations
and teachers' organizations could be important actors and should
be encouraged to take part and determine what the Convention meant
for medical doctors because what was involved was not only article
24 of the Convention and the enjoyment of the highest attainable
standard of health, but also the approach to the child as seen from
the doctors' side.
34. There was a need for cooperation with the
civilian sector and integration of the Convention into school curricula.
Some countries had found that problematic in a liberal society and
the question had arisen on how one could affect people's values
without being a big brother. Each society had the means whereby
the Government could provide information to the general public,
but that required high-level support. One way of dealing with the
problem was to examine programmes and to see what related to children.
That type of exercise, which had been undertaken in some countries,
tended to lead to child-oriented development assistance.
35. Mrs. KARP said she had the impression that
there was a disparity between north and south and between rural
and urban areas in Portugal. That disparity had implications for
education and health and the new Government had the task of reshaping
society because the rights of the child were not being dealt with
equally. Children in Portugal did not have equal access to health,
education and other services and she would like the Portuguese delegation
to give more details on Portugal's policy priorities regarding the
changes it intended to make.
36. Mr. KOLOSOV said he firmly believed that
the change of Government in Portugal should not affect the continuity
of national policy with regard to children. It was the Committee's
firm belief that the more difficult a transitional period was the
more attention should be paid to children's needs. He would welcome
information from the Portuguese delegation on the special measures
that were being taken in various fields in the current difficult
situation. Information should also be provided on the way in which
legislation was being implemented.
37. The Convention seemed to repeat the provisions
of the International Covenants in many of its articles and children
seemed to be covered because those instruments did not discriminate
against citizens on the basis of age. However, that was not really
true because children's rights were not taken seriously by adults
if those rights were not specifically mentioned in all laws. Children
themselves thought that the laws relating to human rights did not
apply to them. The legislation that was going to be adopted should,
therefore, refer explicitly to children's rights. He would like
to know what the Government's intentions were in that regard.
The meeting was suspended at 4.55 p.m. and resumed
at 5.05 p.m.
38. Mrs. GERSÃO (Portugal) said that
there had been some delay in the preparation of the initial report
and that it had not been possible to work with non-governmental
organizations and all the departments concerned with children. Another
commission had prepared the Portuguese report for the World Summit
for Children. Her delegation had drawn on those documents, but regretted
that it had been unable to work with a more diversified commission,
including public services and private institutions, and hoped that,
for its next report, it would be able to work in a different manner.
An example of the excellent cooperation between NGOs and the public
sector was to be found in the area of the protection of children.
In that connection, a meeting had been held on the draft Convention
on the Rights of the Child at the initiative of UNICEF and the Portuguese
committee for UNICEF.
39. The commission which had prepared the report
for the World Summit for Children had submitted a proposal to the
Government on a permanent system for the follow-up to the Convention,
but the proposal had not been accepted. A suggestion which had been
made at the initiative of the Socialist Party and which had been
adopted by all parties in Parliament was that a university research
institute should carry out a study on child victims of ill-treatment.
The first part of the study had been completed and related to the
Lisbon area. A meeting was to be held with a parliamentary commission
to prepare the second part of the study, which would cover the entire
40. Mr. ABREU DE LEMOS (Portugal) said that
there were two levels in Portuguese administration concerned with
the financing of projects for children. The central level had its
own projects and paid for them. At the local level, the local authorities
received funds from the Government which accounted for about 17
per cent of the budget and could be used for specific local programmes.
There were also European social funds and development funds. With
those funds, the central administration or local authorities could
expand education and health infrastructures. A new regional level
was to be set up within a few years. It was too early to indicate
how it would work and which funds would be made available to it.
41. The Ministry of Education had reorganized
its structures in order to be closer to the problems of several
regions in the country. Efforts were being made to overcome some
disparities, especially in the interior of the country, where it
was more difficult to take children to school. However, all local
authorities were trying to ensure that children had transportation
to school. It should be noted that some schools had closed because
the local inhabitants had moved from the interior of the country
to coastal areas. Children from small villages were being transported
to other schools. In that connection, he said that efforts were
being made to develop inland areas and to attract people to them.
The Government was also working to create better conditions for
students and for teachers. Its policy was to ensure education for
the largest number of children in Portugal.
42. Mr. GOMES PEDRO (Portugal) said that the
Portuguese Government was trying to instil an appreciation of the
crucial concept of the global approach to protecting the rights
of the child in all those whose work related to children's health,
including educators, social workers and medical personnel. It followed
the same global model in its efforts to deal with the problem of
regional disparities in health services and, in particular, in its
efforts to reduce the infant mortality rate. But what was seen as
primary in the provision of health care was the creation of a culture
of respect for the individual and the family.
43. A great upheaval had occurred in 1974, the
year of the Portuguese revolution, but Government policy in the
areas of education and social services had not been discontinuous
in the ensuing years and great progress had been made. For example,
between 1984 and 1994, the infant mortality rate had dropped from
approximately 17 per thousand to 7.9 per thousand and the vaccination
coverage index had risen from 60 per cent to 96.4 per cent.
44. Mr. de SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said
that his delegation welcomed the spirit of the Committee's comments,
which had emphasized the ways in which Portugal could better protect
the rights of its children. Five main concerns had been expressed.
First, the Committee had requested detailed information on the conformity
of Portuguese legislation within the Convention, as well as on the
practical implementation of such provisions. He assured the Committee
that future reports would endeavour to provide a fuller picture
and to include, in particular, statistical information pertaining
specifically to children. Secondly, the Committee had regretted
that NGOs had not taken part in the implementation process; in future,
the Portuguese Government would try to remedy that acknowledged
weakness. Thirdly, the Committee had recommended that Portugal should
enhance the coordination of policies relating to children among
the various Government bodies and had suggested that a coordinating
body should be set up for that purpose. Fourthly it had recommended
that Portugal should develop a focus for its international cooperation,
both public and private, with particular emphasis on the child.
Portugal's African partners would undoubtedly benefit from assistance
in respect of children. Fifthly, the Committee had indicated that,
in addressing the broader issue of human rights, Portugal did not
pay enough attention to the child per se. The Convention indeed
went farther in that regard than other international human rights
instruments and Portugal should be encouraged to follow suit.
45. Mrs. SARDENBERG pointed out that the NGOs
that participated in the process of implementing the provisions
of the Convention should be representative of the diverse sectors
of Portuguese society; only thus could a genuinely dynamic process
46. Mr. HAMMARBERG said he wished to add three
concerns to those outlined by the Portuguese delegation. In the
first place, the Portuguese Government should undertake an in-depth
review of the performance of its various authorities in implementing
the Convention; secondly, it should adopt a more comprehensive approach
to the training and education of professionals who dealt with children,
including, for example, a review of child-related curricula; and,
thirdly, it should try to develop a more dynamic interpretation
of article 4, paying particular attention to the phrase "the
maximum extent of their available resources". Portugal should
ask whether it was in fact giving all that it could.
47. The CHAIRPERSON invited the Portuguese delegation
to reply to the questions contained in the section of the list of
issues entitled "General principles", which read:
"General principles" (Arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12 of the Convention)
8. Please indicate the specific and concrete
measures taken to combat discrimination against girls, rural children,
children belonging to minorities (including Gypsy children), asylum-seeking
children and disabled children, including measures to eliminate
and prevent discriminatory attitudes and prejudices.
9. Please provide more information on the regional
and social disparities relating to perinatal, neonatal and infant
mortality (para. 126 of the report).
10. What concrete measures have been taken to
sensitize public opinion and educate personnel working with children
about the need to encourage children's participatory rights? Furthermore,
what measures, if any, are being taken in the education system to
implement article 12 of the Convention both in respect of the child's
right to participate in decisions that individually affect him or
her and also in respect of the right to participate in the development
of school policy and administration?"
48. Mr. ABREU DE LEMOS (Portugal), replying
to question 8, said that the Portuguese Constitution provided that
every Portuguese citizen was equal to every other, independent of
race, sex or religion. That basic principle was reflected in the
Framework Act on the Education System, which was based on the principle
that unequal circumstances meant unequal opportunities and provided
for special assistance to underprivileged children with a view to
achieving genuinely equal opportunities. Several special programmes
had been launched for that purpose. The first was a youth programme
bearing the slogan "All equal, all different", administered
through NGOs, particularly those devoted to youth. The second, under
the auspices of the Ministry of Education, was based on the idea
that schooling should be made accessible to all children. It called
for a flexible and diversified pedagogical approach, emphasizing
the personalized treatment of each child in accordance with his
needs, and aimed to improve the quality of the educational experience
by providing extra pedagogical support, in the form of special classes
designed for special needs, to children from minority communities
or to those who were otherwise socially or economically disadvantaged.
The third was an intercultural programme, involving, in the current
year, the participation of 52 schools in urban areas having sizeable
immigrant communities. Illegal immigration was a significant problem;
under Portuguese law, the child of an illegal immigrant was not
entitled to attend school. School administrations took the approach,
however, that all children should receive an education and therefore
sought to sidestep the legal obstacles.
49. Mr. de SANTA CLARA GOMES (Portugal) said
that the Portuguese were inclined to view themselves as an open
and tolerant people and appreciated the richness to be gained from
exposure to other cultures. Several recent incidents had shown,
however, that Portugal was not wholly free from racist sentiments.
The Government was doing its best through educational and cultural
measures, to eradicate the "fear of otherness".
50. Mr. GOMES PEDRO (Portugal), replying to
question 9, said that regional disparities did exist in the area
of health. In 1994, the overall infant mortality rate had been 7.9
per thousand, but, in four districts, that rate had stood at above
10 per thousand. There, too, the Government's approach was global;
several strategies had proven particularly useful. For example,
a health service coordination system had been set up throughout
the country under which administrators, obstetricians, paediatricians,
and primary health care providers cooperated in solving problems.
In his view, that coordination system should be expanded so that
representatives of other sectors could take part in the formulation
of a common health strategy. A problem of signal concern was the
dearth of health personnel in Portugal's rural districts. Means
must be found to encourage health personnel to fill the many vacant
posts; the solution to that problem called for national solidarity,
one of the Government's touchstone concepts.
51. Mr. ABREU DE LEMOS (Portugal) said that
the Government was working to inculcate a culture of democratization
and participation. It was well to remember, however, that Portugal
had been deprived of its freedom for 50 years; the 20 ensuing years
had not proved enough to prepare all members of Portuguese society
for full participation. Accordingly, two new courses had been introduced
in the schools: the first, entitled "Personal and Social Development",
was offered to children who had chosen not to enrol in optional
religion courses; and the second, entitled "Civic Education",
had been designed to prepare students for citizenship.
52. Before the 1974 revolution, Portuguese schools
had been organized on an autocratic and totalitarian basis; the
school system had subsequently been reorganized and school administrations
were currently elected by teachers and students. In primary schools,
the views of children were sometimes sought with respect to procedures
affecting them; in secondary schools, students often enjoyed the
right to participate in decision-making. A 1982 law provided for
State support for youth and student associations.
53. Mrs. GERSÃO (Portugal) said that
Portuguese society had made great strides towards democratization
in the past two decades. Former family legislation had established
a patriarchal and authoritarian family model, which had given the
husband authority over his wife and both parents authority over
their children. Current family legislation nevertheless provided
for an egalitarian family structure, stipulating, for example, that
parents should hear their children's view concerning all aspects
of family life and should grant autonomy to their children in accordance
with the age and maturity of each one. It should be noted that those
legislated principles now applied in daily life: a recent poll conducted
by the European Values Study Group had determined that parents placed
great value on the development of autonomy, personal responsibility
and tolerance in their children.
The meeting rose at 06 p.m.