One in six prisoners infected with HIV in Portugal

THE US Department of State has highlighted the poor conditions found in Portuguese prisons following the publication of a 2005 Human Rights report, which states that around 30 per cent of prisoners are infected with Hepatitis B or C, while one in six is infected with HIV.

The US Department of State goes on to say that conditions in Portuguese prisons continue to be below acceptable standards and underlines fundamental problems such as poor sanitation and overcrowding. It has alerted the Portuguese authorities of its concerns.

“The report reflects the reality that there are abuses of authority and poor conditions in Portugal’s prisons,” said Cláudia Pereira, the Portuguese director of the Administração Internacional. “There continues to be serious difficulties in avoiding outbreaks of disease and infections due to poor sanitary conditions. The necessary care needed to treat patients in prisons simply isn’t adequate.”

The report went on to state that, in the first half of 2005, 56 people died in Portuguese prisons, of which 49 died of a “non-specific illness”, while seven prisoners committed suicide. Despite the fact that the time detainees are kept in custody has been reduced from 26 months to eight months, 26 per cent remain in prison for more than a year without having a trial, the report noted.

The Ministry of Justice has admitted that the report was in line with a similar report that it issued in 2003, and pledges to close down outdated prisons, improve existing ones and build new ones as well as promising to reduce overcrowding.