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U.S. Statement at the UPR of Portugal
April 30, 2014

19th Session of the Universal Periodic Review

U.S. Statement delivered by Eric Richardson
April 30, 2014

Thank you Mr. President. The United States warmly welcomes Mr. Macacs, Ms. Muracs, and the rest of the Portuguese delegation.

We commend Portugal’s strong human rights record and longstanding commitment to the promotion of human rights both domestically and internationally.  We applaud the robust national statements that Portugal has released in response to abuse of human rights and civil liberties in Syria and Ukraine.

We are concerned by reports of excessive use of force by police, and of abuse and mistreatment of prisoners by prison guards.  The Portuguese Inspectorate General of Internal Administration and the Council of Europe’s Commission for the Prevention of Torture have reported complaints of physical abuse, threatening use of firearms, excessive use of force, illegal detention, and abuse of power.

While noting that Portugal generally respects worker rights, we share the concerns of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) that compulsory arbitration should only be imposed on worker and employer organizations in cases of acute national or local crisis.  This would be in keeping with the principle of voluntary negotiation in the ILO’s core convention 98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining.

Bearing in mind these concerns, we recommend that Portugal:

  1. Strengthen efforts to ensure that investigations into allegations of ill-treatment of detainees are timely and effective;
  2. Deliver a clear message to all prison managers and staff that all forms of ill-treatment are unacceptable and will result in sanctions;
  3. Amend the Labor Code so that compulsory arbitration may only be imposed on worker and employer organizations in the case of national or local crisis.