Amnesty designed to commemorate Pope’s visit in August
President Marcelo has said he will only rubber stamp the government’s ‘draft law’ to give young offenders time off jail sentences – in commemoration of the Pope’s visit in August – after he has seen the ‘final contours’ of the proposal.
As explained last week, the diploma seeks to lop a year off all jail sentences and/ or fines where the maximum limit does not exceed €1,000 for young offenders, aged between 16-30.
The idea is to ‘support’ the Pope’s interest in young people by showing clemency to Portugal’s young people behind bars.
Amnesties for petty criminals are not unusual to commemorate a visit to Portugal by a Pope. But this one has caused more than a little controversy, as it is focused solely on the young. Constitutionalists warn that it turns the principle of citizens’ equality on its head.
Legal specialist Paulo Otero explains: “There cannot be discrimination in terms of age. No-one can benefit from an amnesty just because they are young”. In the final analysis, it means that someone older, who has committed exactly the same offence/s, cannot be the object of the amnesty solely because of their age…
Thus President Marcelo’s quandary.
The head of State has told reporters: “I will wait for Parliament’s position. As you know, it has to be a law of the Assembly of the Republic. It is usual in situations like this, of a papal visit, to have amnesties, which have varied a lot. And, therefore, I want to see the final outlines of the law and then make a statement.”
The Council of Ministers approved a law exactly a week ago that establishes pardons on jail terms and amnesties for certain crimes and infractions committed by young people, in relation to the Pope’s visit to Portugal.
The diploma determines a pardon of one year for all sentences up to eight years of imprisonment, being additionally fixed an amnesty regime that includes administrative infractions whose maximum limit of applicable fine does not exceed €1,000.
The draft law does not cover young people condemned for crimes of homicide, infanticide, domestic violence, ill-treatment, grevious bodily harm, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, kidnapping, extortion, discrimination, incitement to hatred and violence, influence peddling, money laundering, drug trafficking or corruption.