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Posted by portugalpress on August 02, 2018

A petition calling for the end of crimes against honour has been delivered to parliament signed by 9,000 people.

The hope is that Portugal’s “obsolete and medieval” legislation that has been known to ruin lives is finally consigned to the wastebin.

In the words of the petition’s champion Luís Júdice “these rules simply serve to intimidate whomever has an opinion different to that of the system”.

Portugal’s defamation legislation is “considered obsolete and medieval by the European Commission”, he told Público, adding that sending people to prison for it “simply doesn’t make sense.

As a subscriber to the European Convention for Human Rights, Portugal should “kill this issue at its source”, he said, but that is not what is happening.

Only two years ago, “intellectual and artist” Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues was condemned to three years in jail - which she is still serving, purportedly in a cell with two convicted murderers (click here) - for a long-running battle she waged against high-ranking figures in Portugal’s establishment.

As Júdice said at the time, Rodrigues is “not a criminal”.

If people - no matter what position they have in life - feel their honour has been offended, they can take the issue to the civil courts and ask for compensation, he stressed.

This is the second attempt instigated by Júdice to change a law that to a large extent even conditions Portuguese media.

Newspapers are frequently threatened with ‘an action for defamation’ just for printing the truth. Often the threats are empty, but the mere fact that they are made can lead to editors and/ or publishers to spiking perfectly valid material.

Thus this bid is being keenly watched.

Júdice's first attempt, again in the form of a well-signed petition, failed to be admitted for debate due to the fact that it called on parliament to intervene in the specific case of Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, which was seen as a violation of the principle of separation of powers.

This new bid is much more generic.

It calls principally for an end of crimes against honour but it also “requests the revocation of the Civil Procedure Code” which prohibits “the written or oral use of unnecessary or unjustified expressions which are offensive to the honour or the good name of another, or in respect of institutions”.

The petition further calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the training of judges, and an overview of judicial decisions that have shown themselves to be incompatible with the Convention of Human Rights.

This last point could well involve the controversial recent judgement that ruled in favour of two men who kidnapped a woman and beat her with a nail-spiked club (click here) on the basis that she was an adulteress who, in other countries in the world, could be executed for her behaviour.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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