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Justice Minister, Paula Teixeira defends prison system

Justice Minister, Paula Teixeira da Cruz said today that “Portugal’s prison system is no longer the system is was years ago” and denies there is a single instance of excessive use of force or abuse of detainees our prisons.

The Minister denied there were any abuses in the prison system, despite a U.S. report which points out the use of excessive force and abuse of detainees by the Portuguese authorities are among the country’s ‘major humanitarian problems.’

“Fortunately, our prison system is no longer the prison system of years gone by. There is human rights training, so these situations do not happen in the prison system. When there is some dysfunction, of course, there are investigations, disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges, but fortunately we do not have these situations,” said the Justice Minister today.

The U.S. Department of State reports that in Portugal, “the most important human rights problems included the use of excessive force, and abuse of detainees and prisoners, by police and prison guards.”

Other major problems in Portugal’s system are that prisons are “in a poor state and unhealthy” and the practices of locking up minors with adults, and those remanded in custody pending trial with convicted criminals, are highlighted and condemned.

The U.S. State Department considers credible the reports of excessive use of force by police and of the mistreatment of detainees by prison guards.