National frameworks to address hate crime in Portugal

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Portugal. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Portugal's hate crime report page.


Hate crime recording and data collection

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the centralized process of the collection of crime data and for producing national justice statistics. The data that feed the statistics are recorded by police forces, the Public Prosecutors Services and Judicial Courts. 

The data gathered by the three main police forces (the Criminal Police, the Police of Public Security and the National Republican Guard) are transferred from the processing systems of these entities to the justice statistical information system of the Ministry of Justice. Consequently, police incident reporting forms include information on the legal basis of the recorded incidents, the characteristics of the incident, the victims and the perpetrators, as well as information about the time and place of the incident. A data collection manual provides guidance for police officers when registering crimes for statistical purposes. All police forces are obliged to fill out crime reports according to the manual and send these to the Ministry of Justice's statistical department (DSEJI) every month. 

The collection of statistical data on proceedings pending before the courts is fully automated. The data is communicated to the Directorate General for Justice Policy via an automatic interface with Citius, the information system for first instance courts.

The Ministry of Justice's Statistical Information System presents data based on the following indicators: cases reported, criminal cases in the trial phase (first instance judicial courts), and defendants and persons convicted of these crimes. The statistics already allow for a breakdown of the crimes of murder, serious assault/grievous bodily harm, threats, coercion, stalking, and forced marriage and its preparatory acts, motivated by racial hatred or bias against the victim's skin colour.

Portugal is undertaking efforts to improve their methodology with the aim of producing comparable and more disaggregated data on hate crimes, in line with the standards set out by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and ODIHR.


Hate crime victim support

Specialized support to victims of hate crimes is provided as part of the general victim support system in Portugal. Portugal’s legislation does not define victims of hate crime differently from other crime victims.

The Public Prosecutor Office’s Department of Investigation and Penal Action provides information and victim support to victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The victim support services, including specialized support for hate crime victims, are provided from an office in the capital and do not cover the entire territory of the country. The state provides financial support to civil society organizations (CSO) supporting victims of crimes, including the Portuguese Association for Victim Support (APAV) – a network of support providers. There are several CSOs providing support to different types of victims, including hate crime victims. The services offered include emotional, legal, psychological and social support.

Particularly vulnerable victims are entitled to special protection measures. A particularly vulnerable victim is defined as such owing to their age, health condition or disability. Additionally, victims may be considered vulnerable if the type, degree or duration of their victimization led to injuries that have serious psychological or social consequences for the victim. Thus, victims of violent crimes are always considered particularly vulnerable. Hate crime victims may be assigned this status by police officers but are not automatically defined as such by law. Most police stations have special facilities for receiving victims, including victims of particular crimes.

There is an individual needs assessment procedure in place, but there is some evidence that it is not always pursued and the law does not specify who is responsible for conducting the assessment. On being granted victim status, victims receive a document explaining their rights. The document includes the contact details of CSOs and other entities providing support locally, as well as a contact point in the police for further information on the criminal procedure. Communication between law enforcement and CSO support providers for hate crime victims is formalized to some extent, and there are a number of referral partnerships in place. The police may refer victims to support institutions, but there is no official automatic referral system. Sporadic training and guidance on hate crimes is available to police officers and other criminal justice actors.

Special protection measures can include the following: having the same person or a person of the same sex as the victim conduct interviews; using technology to avoid visual contact between the victim and perpetrator; allowing victims to provide statements anonymously; relocating victims to a safe place; providing declarations for future reference; and excluding the public from hearings. Additionally, victims may be accompanied by a person of their choice during proceedings, provided with legal and medical aid, exempted from paying legal fees and placed in a publicly funded shelter. 

Victims can participate in criminal proceedings as parties, civil parties or witnesses. When acting as a party, the victim can present the impact of the crime in court. CSOs specializing in human rights may also act as parties to the proceedings in the case of crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia. Similarly, organizations working with persons with disabilities may assist by intervening at any stage of the proceedings, providing evidence, bringing charges independent of those of the prosecutor, lodging appeals, accessing procedural data and reacting against the closure of the proceedings by prosecution.

Portugal’s law does not provide for plea bargaining. The legislation foresees a system of criminal mediation, but it is rarely used. A legal framework allows crime victims, including hate crime victims, to obtain state compensation through the Commission for the Protection of Victims of Crimes.

Please note that the above text may be subject to updates based on information provided by the National Point of Contact