European Court of Human Rights receives 69 complaints against Portuguese State

ECHR currently considering 144 complaints against Portugal

Portugal was the target of 69 new complaints at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2022 – a year in which 75 other complaints against the Portuguese State were carried over from the previous year, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed today.

Of the 69 new complaints, according to the report summarising the Public Prosecutor’s Office’s activity in 2022, the majority (47) concern violations of the prohibition of torture, cruel and degrading treatment and/ or the right to an effective appeal.

There are also complaints about violations of the right to judicial decisions in a reasonable time, discrimination, violations of freedom of expression and the right to respect for private and family life, among others.

The 69 new complaints represent a 53% increase from the 45 complaints lodged in 2021.

In 2022, 63 cases were finalised, 37 of which were due to a decision that the complaints were inadmissible or that no rules had been violated.

“The overall amount paid by the Portuguese State as compensation for violations of the Convention’s rules (resulting from a declaration of violation issued in a decision by the ECHR, unilateral declarations by the Portuguese state and agreements entered into) was €368,134.73,” the Public Prosecutor’s Office’s report said.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office highlights as the most relevant case “Duarte v Portugal and 32 other States” case, in which six young people of Portuguese nationality living in Portugal accused 33 countries of inaction in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

In the case, the young people allege a violation “by Portugal and the other defendant States of Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment), 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention, alleging their inaction or insufficient action with regard to taking effective measures aimed at mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects”.

The case, which has already been carried over to this year, during which “the hearing before the Full Bench of the European Court is scheduled to take place”, began in 2020 and “took up considerable time and dedication” for the Public Prosecutor’s Office’s team in 2022 “considering the high technical complexity of the matter in question”.

In the event of a conviction by the ECHR, states are obliged “within six months of the judgement being handed down” to submit a report or action plan for each case, indicating the measures adopted or those they intend to adopt to remedy the violation of the Convention.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office explains that the cases and the supervision to which they are subject are closed when the Judgement Enforcement Office considers that “the measures indicated in the report or plan are considered adequate and sufficient”, with reinforced supervision taking place in cases where prolonged action is required, such as legislative changes.

“During 2022, nine action plans or reports were submitted, and supervision was closed in two pending cases. Around 32 cases remain under supervision, awaiting the adoption by the Portuguese State of more structural measures (such as legislative changes),” the Public Prosecutor’s Office’s report added.

Regarding the reinforced supervision in Portugal, cases mainly concern the excessive length of proceedings, especially in administrative justice, and poor prison conditions, the report noted.

It comes as the justice service faces prolonged industrial action, and recent reports have explained that there are certain courts in the country where cases can take more than 20 years to be dealt with.

Source material: LUSA

Portugal Resident