3rd Universal Periodic Review
- Statements -
Mr. President of the Human Rights Council
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great privilege to participate in this Council session which will approve the Working Group’s Report on the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Portugal.
Portugal is deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. This commitment is enshrined in our Constitution. Achieving universal respect for all human rights is for us a priority.
For these reasons, Portugal has always supported the Human Rights Council and its UPR mechanism, a mechanism that contributes effectively to promote and defend human rights through an open dialogue between States.
Portugal has actively engaged in this exercise in a transparent and open manner. We consider the received recommendations very useful to enhance the areas where we are progressing and to overcome our shortcomings. In Human Rights there are no perfect countries. But there are countries committed to a constant path of improvement and progress towards the full realization of Human Rights.
The three exams Portugal underwent - in 2009, 2014 and more recently in May – provided an excellent opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made and to set new goals for the future. We recognize that the implementation of the range of recommendations addressed to us has contributed to improving the human rights situation in Portugal.I would therefore like to thank the 95 delegations which actively participated in the dialogue with us. We are pleased to note that more countries participated in our Exam than in 2014. This demonstrates the growing recognition of the importance and effectiveness of UPR mechanism. I would also like to address a special thank you to the Secretariat and to the Troika of countries responsible for preparing the UPR report.Immediately following the Exam, Portugal accepted 229 of the 245 recommendations addressed to us. In the addendum to the Working Group´s report to be adopted today you will find our position on all the recommendations. In total, Portugal accepted 231 recommendations and noted 14. We are pleased to note that in general the recommendations were made in a positive tone, acknowledging Portugal's progress and efforts in many areas. Several countries praised the advances on the area of LGBTI rights. Portugal’s role as coordinator of the Group of Friends of National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting and Follow-up (NMIRF); as a promoter of Social, Cultural and Economic rights; and of the human rights approach to Health, in particular to Mental Health, were also commended.Mr. President I would like to touch on some of the issues that aroused more interest during the third Universal Periodic Review last May.Portugal is fully committed to the promotion of women's rights and to the combat and elimination of all forms of discrimination, domestic violence and gender-based violence. In addition to the various measures and initiatives referred to during the UPR, I would like to highlight that, last August, the Portuguese Council of Ministers approved a Resolution setting further measures to prevent and combat domestic violence. On welcoming foreign citizens in our country, the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) 2015 placed Portugal in second place out of 38 countries on the integration of immigrants. Portugal was one of the first States to sign the Global Compact for Migration. Last August, the Council of Ministers approved the National Plan for the Implementation of the Global Compact for Migration, one of the first countries in the world to do so. Our focus is now to move quickly towards its implementation. I would also like to emphasize the tradition and practice of cultural and interreligious dialogue in Portugal. We have good practices in our Law and in our day to day actions. That is why several international organizations recognize our ability to integrate all religions and cultures. The importance that Portugal attaches to the issues of racism and racial discrimination has led to significant improvements. The Committee on Equality and Against Racial Discrimination has strengthened its functions. This Committee does not only receive complaints but also instructs infringement proceedings. Additionally, many other measures were successfully taken, as reported during the UPR. I would like to stress one indicator of the success of these measures: in November 2018 the European Agency for Fundamental Rights Report emphasized that Portugal has the lowest rate of racist violence in the EU (2%). The elimination of the discrimination against the Roma community, together with its socio-economic integration, continues to deserve the greatest attention. Portugal revised and extended until 2022 the National Strategy for the Integration of Roma Communities, following an extensive consultation process, which included representatives of this community. Based on a concertation between all relevant actors, especially the fundamental role of the municipalities, the National Strategy includes among its priorities: the reinforcement of schooling and professional integration; access to decent housing; the improvement of information and knowledge and the fight against discrimination.Trafficking in human beings has received our greatest attention, especially from the Foreign and Border Service. All victims of trafficking identified by the Borders Service are immediately notified of their status and residence permits are issued if they wish to continue in our country. Portugal is working to effectively and permanently improve the conditions in the prisons, namely to improve access to health care, including mental health, and to regulate the use of force on prisoners by prison guards. In 2017, a Prison Requalification Plan was adopted, to be implemented in 10 years.Education is a priority area for Portugal. Several measures have been taken to promote and guarantee education for all and to reduce the rates of school dropout. We also consider inclusive education a priority and public investment in the sector has been increased.In what regards children’s rights, I would like to mention that Portugal aligned itself to the UNICEF voluntary global pledge for the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Child. Mr. President I would like to underline that the matters covered by the recommendations we have noted deserve our utmost attention, in particular as regards the protection of migrant workers and their families. Portugal cannot ratify the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families because, as is the case with other European Union Member States, these matters are no longer within our exclusive national competence. In fact, most of the noted recommendations are already covered by our national legal framework. Mr. President Over the next 4 years, Portugal will strive to implement, or proceed with the implementation, of the 231 accepted recommendations. This will contribute to the progress of the human rights situation in our country. We will do so within the framework of the National Commission on Human Rights and in close collaboration with our civil society. I would like to point out that within two years, as per usual, Portugal will present an interim follow-up report on the recommendations made in the third Universal Periodic Review exercise. Thank you very much.
At the end of this session, I would like to thank all participating countries and international organizations, as well as the Ombudsman of Portugal, the National Human Rights Institution. As I said in my opening intervention, Portugal has always been a strong supporter of the Universal Periodic Review exercise as a privileged mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights, contributing to the realization of human rights worldwide. The third Universal Periodic Exam reinforced this conviction. Over the next 4 years, Portugal will follow up on the accepted recommendations in the certainty that their implementation will contribute to the progress of the human rights situation in our country. We will do this within the framework of the National Commission on Human Rights and in close collaboration with civil society. In two years, we will present an interim report on the results achieved, and we are sure that they will be positive. I would like to conclude by expressing the confidence that the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism will continue to play a key role in the universal realization of human rights for all. I thank you.