Government prepares tough new anti-terrorism laws

Publically supporting terrorism, travelling abroad to join terrorist groups and accessing websites linked to these groups could soon be considered a crime in Portugal.

The government’s most recent efforts to improve anti-terrorism protection were presented and approved in the Council of Ministers on Thursday, February 19.

The changes come in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen which have raised threat levels across Europe to the maximum.

Justice Minister Paula Teixeira Cruz explained after the meeting what activities would be considered crimes if the new proposals move forward.

They include “complementing someone for carrying out terrorist actions, publically or through social media”; “travelling abroad to receive terrorist training or support terrorist groups” and “accessing terrorism sites in order to be recruited”.

Jail sentences, she revealed, would range from three and 20 years.

To detect terrorist activity “more swiftly and thoroughly”, Jornal de Notícias reports that the government is planning changes in the way authorities handle threats.

Says the newspaper, the government wants the Public Prosecutor’s Office to be “more actively” involved in Portugal’s anti-terrorist group UCAT, while border authorities will have a stricter stance on the issuing of visas.

There are also plans to carry out more undercover investigations and increase contact with international authorities.

Many of the measures were agreed with the Socialist Party (PS), now expected to support them in Parliament.

Just a few weeks ago, the Resident reported that Portugal’s PSP police were following “precise orders” ensuring increased vigilance in Lisbon (see story: https://www.portugalresident.com/terrorism-threat-police-increase-vigilance-in-lisbon)

At the time, the president of the country’s intelligence watchdog (the Conselho de Fiscalização do Sistema de Informações da República Portuguesa), told Diário de Notícias that “Portugal cannot become the weakest link in the fight against terrorism”.

Paulo Mota Pinto warned that unless measures were tightened nationally, the country could face “new threats”.

Photo: Justice Minister Paula Teixeira da Cruz speaking at the Council of Ministers meeting on February 19
Photo by: TIAGO PETINGA/LUSA