Portugal Table of Contents
Restrictions on freedom of assembly and of the press, on the rights of association and of public protest, and on the right to strike were removed with the promulgation of the new Constitution in April 1976. The constitutionally mandated Council of Social Communication, whose members were elected by the Assembly of the Republic, acted as a watchdog to protect freedom of speech and access to the media. The council publicized abuses, made recommendations to the Assembly of the Republic, and had enforcement powers; however, it had never been required to exercise such powers. There were two restrictions on civil liberties. "Fascist" organizations were prohibited by law. In addition, persons could be prosecuted for "insulting" civil or military authorities if such an "insult" was intended to undermine the rule of law. Several prosecutions had resulted under these provisions.
The constitution of 1976 drastically altered the role of the police to protect civil rights. It gave guidelines for criminal investigation and treatment of suspects. The constitution specified that no person could be held without trial or imprisoned without a definite sentence. Individuals could not be deprived of citizenship for political reasons. The principle of habeas corpus was restated and was applied without exception to both civilian criminal courts and military tribunals. A petition for a writ of habeas corpus was to be answered by a judge within eight days. Torture and inhumane detention were made illegal. Confessions obtained under duress and any material obtained by illegal means were declared inadmissible as evidence in criminal proceedings. The privacy of personal correspondence and telephone communication was also guaranteed in the Constitution, and forcible entry into homes and searches without a judicial warrant were forbidden.
Data as of January 1993