Alongside this recommendation, which is again mentioned Portugal in the CPT report, the Anti-Torture Committee also proposes a series of measures to improve the treatment of prisoners, particularly those considered most vulnerable.

The report contains the results of the 'ad hoc' visit to Portugal by CPT officials between 3 and 12 December 2019, and also sets out the response given by the Portuguese judicial authorities.

According to the report, during the visit, the CPT delegation received a considerable number of "credible allegations of ill-treatment" by police officers.

The alleged ill-treatment consisted mainly of assaults with slaps, punches and kicks to the body and head, as well as beatings with batons and occurred at the time of arrest, as well as during the period of stay at the police station.

The report points out that Afro-descendants, both Portuguese and foreigners, seem to run a higher risk of maltreatment in police environments.

The document calls for Portugal to take vigorous action to promote a police culture in which these members of national security are not allowed to resort to ill-treatment of detainees and suspects.

The CPT is also very critical of the system of investigation of cases of ill-treatment, considering that police officers who commit acts of ill-treatment are not usually held responsible.

The CPT recommends that additional means be provided to the Prosecutor's Office to enable investigations into alleged cases of ill-treatment to be conducted "quickly and thoroughly".

As for the prison system, the report notes that the prison population has decreased, but warns that prison overcrowding in prisons such as Caxias, Porto and Setúbal remains "a serious problem that seriously affects prison living conditions and relations between law enforcement officials, guards and inmates.

The report indicates that vulnerable inmates held in those three prisons were kept in very poor conditions, some with less than 3m² of living space for each and others confined in cells up to 23 hours a day.

The CPT also noted measures to improve supervision of prison guard interventions to contain disturbances in prisons and expressed strong reservations about the use of firearms and other means of coercion, such as gas grenades in a confined prison environment.

The Anti-Torture Committee also made recommendations on inmate activities, health care and discipline, and stressed the need to strengthen prison guard resources and their professional training.

As for the Psychiatric Clinic of the Santa Cruz do Bispo Penitentiary, the CPT says it has again found that the patients were kept in "terrible conditions", in an environment similar to a prison.

Aware that this establishment cannot provide a therapeutic environment for the care and treatment of psychiatric patients, the CPT reiterates its recommendation that the establishment be closed and patients relocated to an appropriate psychiatric or social care centre.

In their response, the Portuguese authorities reported on the measures being implemented to accommodate the CPT's recommendations on police ill-treatment and on improving the treatment of prisoners in the prison system.

In the same response, reference was also made to the creation of a joint working group, appointed by the Ministers of Health and Justice, to review and reform the current Mental Health Law.