Portugal and Human Rights: Ombusdman acknowledges progress but warns of pension arrears, domestic violence and prison system deficiencies

Portugal has a long-standing commitment to the recognition and protection of human rights and in the last decades efforts have been made to be in line with the highest international standards.

Examples include the National Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings, the National Strategy for the Integration of Gypsy Communities, the National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination and the ratification of the International Labor Organization Convention on Domestic Workers.

Nevertheless, certain shortcomings persist in the realization of social rights, in particular due to delays in the payment of old-age, invalidity and survivors’ pensions. Raising still deep concern are the high number of cases of domestic violence and systemic problems affecting the Portuguese prison system.

This was, in summary, the position of the Ombudsperson, Maria Lúcia Amaral, transmitted during the pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, dedicated to Portugal. This pre-session was held in Geneva on 3 and 4 April, in the presence of the Deputy Ombudsman, Joaquim Pedro Cardoso da Costa, and the Adviser to the Cabinet, Ricardo Carvalho.

In the context of the Universal Periodic Review, the 193 UN member states are invited to report every four years on the current status and progress made in fulfilling their international human rights obligations.

In Portugal, the Ombudsman also performs the functions of National Human Rights Institution.


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