of state: Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio
of government: António
Manuel de Oliveira Guterres
penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
continued to face cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions, and frequent acts
of violence by prison staff, as well as other inmates, were reported.
Allegations were made about ill-treatment and illegal detention by law
enforcement officers and judicial inquiries were opened, or continued, in
relation to a number of ill-treatment cases.
a continuing ‘scandal’
investment in prisons increased and steps were taken to renovate some
buildings and improve benefits and facilities, prisoners claimed conditions
continued to constitute what President Jorge Sampaio had called a “real
national scandal” the previous year. The allegations referred to severe
overcrowding, poor standards of hygiene and medical neglect; continuing
proliferation, in some places, of cockroaches, fleas and rats; the spread and
fear of contagious diseases such as tuberculosis; an escalation in the numbers
of prisoners with HIV and AIDS; and widespread drug addiction.
a new inspection, the Ombudsman for Justice recognized that the authorities
had made an “appreciable” effort to improve living and hygiene conditions
during the previous two years, but stated that the general situation remained
“as black or blacker than in 1996”, the year of his critical prison report,
largely owing to the pressures caused by drug dependency and the rise in
prisoners claimed they had been ill-treated by prison guards. Allegations were
made by prisoners at Linhó (Sintra) that the prison governor and head of
custodial staff seemed powerless to prevent beatings of inmates by guards
“almost every day”. The prison authorities rejected the accusations,
stressing the existence of “organized violence” by prisoners. In July,
after one prisoner was transferred to a security wing and allegedly beaten by
guards, about 200 prisoners in wing B of Linhó protested by refusing to eat.
In another incident at Linhó, prisoners demanded to inspect the security wing
after an inmate held for 30 days in a disciplinary cell had reportedly been
subdued with baton beatings and tear gas; a visit was authorized. There were
also allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners at Pinheiro da Cruz and Angra
do Heroísmo prisons. A group of prisoners had earlier signed an open letter
in which they described a climate of fear and ill-treatment at Pinheiro da
Cruz. This was denied by the General Directorate of Prison Services.
António Palma, a prisoner at Pinheiro da Cruz, who was undergoing
psychiatric treatment, was allegedly ill-treated in August when he refused to
be locked into his cell at the end of the day. A group of between eight and 10
guards, accompanied by two dogs and armed with batons and a riot shield,
reportedly beat him to the ground, leaving weals and abrasions across his back.
He was taken to the prison infirmary and injected with medication, apparently
against his will. Concern was expressed that the number of guards and the dogs
and equipment brought in to subdue the prisoner was a use of disproportionate
force. An inquiry was opened.
Republican Guard unit accused
of ill-treatment by law enforcement officers were reported both before and
after May, when the Regulations on the Material Conditions of Detention in
Police Establishments came into force. Introducing the regulations, the
Minister of Internal Administration expressed the belief that, while
conditions for suspects in police custody had been a “frequent object of
criticism by international and human rights institutions and organizations”,
the situation had improved in recent years and “it is now important to
ensure that it does not deteriorate”. The regulations, which affect both the
Public Security Police (PSP) and the National Republican Guard (GNR), set out
a large number of detailed requirements for improving conditions in police
custody. They stipulate that all detainees must be treated with humanity and
dignity and all arrests must be registered at the police station or command
A GNR infantry sergeant claimed in August that, despite the new
regulations, ill-treatment of detainees was “virtually systematic” between
May and July at a post in Anadia (Aveiro) which he had commanded for almost 18
years. He claimed that, after reporting ill-treatment to his immediate
superior, as required by the new regulations, he had been transferred from the
post and an inquiry had been opened into allegations that he had committed
“illegal acts”. He described four cases in which he claimed detainees had
been illegally detained or ill-treated at the post by a three-officer Criminal
Investigation Unit (NIC). The sergeant claimed that no food or medical care
had been provided to detainees, one of whom was suffering from eye, wrist, arm
and back injuries as a result of beatings, and that other arrests had not been
November the General Inspectorate of Internal Administration (IGAI) stated
that it had opened an inquiry into the sergeant’s specific allegations as
well as into the general functioning of the NIC, owing to reports that the NIC
had ill-treated and illegally arrested suspects. However, IGAI stated that the
disciplinary proceedings being taken against the sergeant were in no way
connected with the allegations he had made against the NIC.
Jorge Manuel da Conceição Simões, a former drug addict undergoing
rehabilitation, complained that in May he was taken to the Anadia post after
being arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and beaten about the head and
chest when he refused to sign a confession. He was later treated for his
injuries at Anadia District Hospital. He claimed he had not taken drugs since
February 1998 but that the GNR officers visited his workplace after he refused
to sign the confession and reported that he had stolen to feed a drug habit.
As a result he lost his job.
ill-treatment by PSP officers
was concern that in some cases PSP officers had not only failed to register an
arrest at the police station but had driven detainees to remote places in
order to carry out ill-treatment.
Marco Fernandes, also called Marco Filipe, was known to police as a
petty criminal. He claimed that one early morning in September, as he was
standing with friends in a street in Funchal, Madeira, he saw two police
officers from the Câmara de Lobos station. He attempted to flee but was
caught and beaten about the head with a police radio. He was bundled into a
car and driven to Cape Girão, several hundred feet above sea level. His head
was covered and the officers held him at the top of the cliff, threatening to
throw him over. He was then forced to crawl back to the car. While being
driven away, his head, which was bleeding, was held out of the door and he was
made to undress and clean away the blood at a well. He alleged he was almost
strangled with a piece of iron and kicked in the mouth and stomach before
being left to find his own way home. A piece of iron and a police radio were
reportedly found later, the latter broken. Marco Fernandes received treatment
for his injuries at the Hospital Cruz de Carvalho. He and his mother lodged a
judicial complaint against the officers and judicial and disciplinary
proceedings were opened. Now 19 years old, Marco Fernandes was one of the
children from poor areas of the city, such as Câmara de Lobos, who were
abused in 1991 by members of a paedophile ring. Since then a large number of
inquiries into crimes of child abuse and paedophilia against street children
have taken place in Madeira and have led to prosecutions, but an inquiry into
police ill-treatment of the children was never pursued by the public
prosecutor, despite confirmation by the Ombudsman’s Office that
ill-treatment had occurred.
inquiry by the criminal investigation department of the Lisbon public
prosecutor’s office concluded without being able to establish that the death
of Olívio Almada, whose body was discovered in the Tagus river in 1996, was
directly connected with his arrest by PSP officers. However, it found that the
officers, who had driven him away in a car without taking him to the police
station or registering his arrest, had acted illegally, and they were
committed for trial in November. Disciplinary procedures ordered against the
officers by the PSP General Command were continuing.
In April Amnesty International asked for an
international Commission of Investigation to be established by the United
Nations to provide the necessary resources and strong guarantees for a thorough,
independent and transparent process of systematic collection of evidence.
Turkey -- The Turkish government coalition decided on 12 January 2000 to abide by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) request by halting the file of Abdullah Öcalan in the Office of the Prime Minister, instead of forwarding it to Parliament and the latter's Judicial Commission for a final decision on his execution. The Turkish government announced that they would review this decision should there be a renewal of violence by the PKK. Abdullah Öcalan's death sentence had been upheld by the Appeal Court on 25 November.
On 28 March the former president of the Human
Rights Association IHD, Akïn Birdal, was re-imprisoned despite a medical report
warning that his injuries are a danger to his life. Amnesty International again
adopted him as a prisoner of conscience imprisoned for the peaceful expression
of his views, and campaigned for his immediate and unconditional release. After
having been closed for nearly three years, the IHD Diyarbakir branch could
finally be re-opened on 19 April. Only 23 days later, the branch was again
closed for three months.
On 19 and 20 February, three mayors of Kurdish cities were snatched in broad daylight and detained at Diyarbakir Gendarmerie Headquarters where they were tortured or ill-treated. The were released from prison on 28 February pending a trial in which they are charged with having supported the Kurdistan Worker's Party PKK.
On 17 January, Turkish security forces had an operation against the militant Islamist organization Hizbullah arresting hundreds of alleged members. Subsequently, some 60 dead bodies were excavated which were attributed to people abducted and/or killed by Hizbullah. Amnesty International called for comprehensive investigation into these killings. Reports show that Hizbullah acted in collusion with parts of the Turkish security forces in their fight against PKK. Amnesty International was concerned that some of those detained in the raid against Hizbullah were held in illegal detention for prolonged periods in which they were at risk of torture and ill-treatment.
Spain -- The end of ETA's indefinite cease-fire, which the Basque armed group had already declared the previous November, was marked in blood by the killing in January of a military officer, Pedro António Blanco García. It was followed by three more murders, including that of José Luis López de Lacalle, a journalist, pacifist and former political prisoner under General Franco as ETA pursued a mounting campaign against journalists. Amnesty International has repeatedly and unreservedly condemned the human rights abuses committed by the armed group. In April the National Court sentenced former Civil Guard general Enrique Rodriguez Galindo and former civil governor of Guipuzcoa Julen Elgorriaga to 71 years' imprisonment each in connection with the abduction and murder of two ETA members, José Antonio Lasa and José Ignacio Zabala in 1983. Three others were sentenced to prison terms between 67 and 69 years' imprisonment.
Portugal -- In May the UN Committee against Torture expressed concern at the "continuing number of deaths and ill-treatment arising out of contact by members of the public with the police" following an examination of Portugal's third periodic report. This was highlighted by the deaths of two men, Álvaro Rosa Cardoso and Paulo Silva, allegedly as a result of brutal police beatings. The decision by a judge to detain two officers in relation to the death of Cardoso, a Romani, was met with vociferous street protests by police officers throughout Portugal. Amnesty International was concerned by reports that some of the officers made death threats to the judge.
Italy -- In April 2000 the first sentences were issued in connection with the allegations that members of the Italian armed forces tortured, ill-treated and unlawfully killed Somalis in 1993 and 1994, while participating in a multinational peace-keeping operation. One former paratrooper was sentenced to 18 months' suspended imprisonment for abusing his authority and is potentially liable to pay 30 million lire to the victim, a Somali man who had been photographed while soldiers were in the act of attaching electrodes to his body. A second accused received a lower sentence after plea-bargaining.
Switzerland -- The appeal of convicted war criminal Fulgence Niyonteze came under examination in May. Niyonteze, a former local government official in Rwanda, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999 after a military court in Lausanne found him guilty of a number of crimes, including murder, incitement to murder and war crimes, in the context of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Kyrgyzstan -- In March the US State Department called into question Kyrgyzstans commitment to democracy after law enforcement officers reportedly used excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations over irregularities in the February and March parliamentary elections. The elections were heavily criticized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The allegedly politically motivated arrest of Felix Kulov -- the chairman of the opposition Ar-Namys party and former Minister of National Security -- led to further demonstrations and confrontations with law enforcement authorities.
Tajikistan -- 21-year old Dilfuza Numonova was sentenced to death on 18 January, as was 22-year old Khakimbek Khomidov on 30 March. Dilfuza Numonova stated that her confession to murder was extracted under duress. She also claimed that in prison she was forced to have an abortion. Under Tajik law pregnant women may not be executed.
Turkmenistan -- On 25 February Nurberdi Nurmamedov, co-chair of the opposition movement Agzybirlik, was arrested and sentenced to five years imprisonment for what Amnesty International believes to be solely for his peaceful criticism of the President.
Uzbekistan -- Six men sentenced to death for their part in the February 1999 bombings in Tashkent were executed January 2000. Conversely, the death sentences of the two young musicians, Arsen Arutyunyan and Danis Sirazhev, were reversed to 15 years' imprisonment.
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