Lisbon, 13th February 2020 – The Portuguese Human Rights League – Civitas is against both the Regulation no. 1/2020 from theProsecutor Genera land the Legal Opinion no. 33/2019 from the Consultative Council of the Public Prosecution Service.

On 4th February 2020, H.E. Prosecutor General of the Republicsigned the Regulation no. 1/2020 approving the Legal Opinion no. 33/2019 from the Consultative Council of the Public Prosecution Service.

On 11th February 2020, the Public Prosecution Service signed a Dispatch suspending the publication in the Official Gazette and requested further legal opinion to analyze the conclusion no. 10 of the Legal Opinion, pertinent to the registry of internal decision making.

Portugal lives with a severe problem Justice’s access, function and Dignity. Unlikely frequently referred, one doesn’t have to just dignify Justice. Justice has to be responsible to foment and be worth the dignity that characterizes Justice.

The Public Prosecution Service has a vital action of defending the public interest, and in investigating and unfold the legal procedures.Especially, and in particular, is under pressure, in cases of power corruption and abuse. Therefore, its independence and transparency of action are vital to secure one of the Fundamental Pillars of the Rule of Law and of Democracy.

Currently, when Justice principles’ and its functioning are constantly in stake, the public scrutiny is higher.It seems to us being against the public interest, the defence of a healthy Justice and the growing fight being carried out in Portugal against corruption, the mere possibility of high hierarchy powers to have the power to change the investigation course and its process without no-ones’ knowledge and of sanctioning the Legal Opinion.

Of course, there is a defined hierarchy at the Public Prosecution Service, but it is also clear that the Prosecutor General of the Republic is appointed by the President of the Republic under proposal from the Government, being possible to hypothetically speak on an interference of the executive power on the legal power.

The Portuguese Human Rights League – Civitas considers that it is of the public interest that automatic controls and a boost on the transparency be promoted within the typical activities of the State, including Justice and the technical and functional autonomy of the Magistrates.

Considering that:

  • “The duty of refusing the fulfil of illegal orders, from a hierarchical superior and the refusal power to fulfil orders, from him/her, based on violation of legal conscience” is not enough nor suitable to the internal autonomy principle, unlike what is defended in the Legal Opinion;
  • “The emission of a directive, order or instruction, even related to a specific case”, unlike the Legal Opinion states should be part of the case anddoesn’t stay only in the hierarchical subordination relation.

Portugal and Portuguese people demand a blind, faster and more transparent Justice, which is capable to handle the challenges that are presented. The Legal Opinion that H.E. Prosecutor General of the Republic promulgated and that is now under appreciation, seems to the League not being accordingly to these goals.

Moreover, the referred re-analysis should not be only to the Conclusion of the 10th Legal Opinion concerning the access to the written registry of internal final decisions, but should firstly to enlighten on the problems and needs identified that moved to initially request the Legal Opinion.

Finally, the Portuguese Human Rights League – Civitas considers that this is an opportunity to carry out a serious, thoughtful and widespread discussion on this matter and others related to the organization of Justice as a key element to the Rule of Law.

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