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Country Reports
Portugal, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Destruction of Portugal’s stockpile of 231,781 antipersonnel mines was completed in February 2003, in advance of its August 2003 deadline.

Mine Ban Policy

Portugal signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 19 February 1999, and became a State Party on 1 August 1999. It decided in February 2002 that the requirements of Article 9 of the treaty for national implementation measures, including penal sanctions to enforce the treaty, are already met by existing legislation.[1]

Portugal participated in the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002 and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003. At the meeting on 6 February 2003, its representatives made a comprehensive presentation of Portugal’s implementation of the treaty, including promotion of the treaty, legislation, stockpile destruction, mine action and victim assistance. Portugal reported that it has promoted the treaty to Portuguese-speaking African countries. Portugal also announced it would create a permanent Defense Commission, which was awaiting ministerial decision, to implement the work that results from all the provisions of the Convention.[2] An official further explained, “This is a proposal presented to the Minister of Defense at the beginning of the year to operationalize all the different aspects of the Convention,” with a likely focus on cooperation with countries such as Angola, Mozambique, or Guinea-Bissau.[3]

The UN did not record submission of the annual transparency report required by Article 7 by the deadline of 30 April 2003. At the Standing Committee meetings in May 2003 the Portuguese delegation informed Landmine Monitor that the report for 2002 had been submitted to the UN. The report had not appeared on the UN website by mid-July 2003. Portugal submitted three previous Article 7 reports.[4]

In November 2002, Portugal voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Portugal is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II. It submitted a report as required by Article 13 of the Protocol on 28 November 2002. This notes that “Because Portugal is not a mine-affected State, there is no legislation related to the Protocol.”[5] Portugal did not attend the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2002.

In October 2002 ALEM-SOLVIG, the national campaign on landmines and other remnants of war, released a report in Portuguese containing the Landmine Monitor country reports for eight Portuguese-speaking countries.[6]

Joint Operations and Transit

Portugal confirmed at the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003 that it does “not assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention” and that Portugal “would not give the authorization to mine transfers.”[7] A Portuguese representative at the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003 added, “In 1999 or 2000, in relation to a joint exercise in which participated American forces, Portugal raised that objection. This was public and notorious. In relation to the Claymore [mines], which are not even part of the treaty, and as you know, can be turned into antipersonnel mines, Portugal clearly said to the Americans it would not accept to participate in an exercise with Claymore mines.”[8]

Transit of weaponry possibly including antipersonnel mines through the US base at Lajes on Terceira, in the Azores islands, in the build up to the Iraq war, was the subject of media reports and public protests in January and February 2003. An official told Landmine Monitor, “We assume the commitment to avoid transfers. Taking into account our sovereignty and the [Lajes] agreement, we believe that the Americans comply with what we stipulated.”[9] There is no formal inspection regime of the weaponry transited, nor any specific mention of landmines in the Lajes agreement, except the obligation for the US to request authorization by submitting a weaponry list.

Claymore Mines and Antivehicle Mines with Sensitive Fuzes

In February 2003, a Portuguese official told Landmine Monitor, “Portugal does not have Claymore mines any more. Portugal considers that Claymore mines should be part of the treaty, as many other countries do.... It is not understandable why the Claymore, being so easily transformed into antipersonnel mines, is not part of the treaty. There should a call [for attention] on that and probably during the Convention’s revision process.”[10]

Regarding Portugal’s position on antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes and antihandling devices, an official said, “We are completely interested in banning this type of mine, or any such thing that leads to the same situation, such as Claymores and things like that, that function in a indiscriminate way.”[11]

Production and Transfer

Portugal stopped production of antipersonnel mines in 1988 and has prohibited export since 1996.[12] The magazine Visão reported that Portugal exported mines to Iraq in 1993.[13]

At least eight types of antipersonnel mines were previously produced. Portuguese mines have been found in 10 countries.[14] The Portuguese M969 antipersonnel mine is one of the most frequently encountered mines in Guinea-Bissau. Another Portuguese mine reported in Guinea-Bissau is the M59, a previously unknown type to Landmine Monitor.[15]

Stockpile Destruction

Portugal completed its stockpile destruction program on 21 February 2003, with the destruction of 231,781 antipersonnel mines.[16] On 25 June 2003, the Minister of Defense toured the destruction facility and symbolically destroyed the last antipersonnel mine.[17] Portugal’s treaty-mandated deadline for stockpile destruction was 1 August 2003.

The September 2002 Article 7 report provided revised stockpile data, with reduced quantities and general categories of mines rather than the type designation given in earlier information. This included: antipersonnel blast mine, 190,517; antipersonnel fragmentation mine, 38,189; inert antipersonnel mine, 2,501; antipersonnel mine, 574; totaling 231,781.[18] This was a reduction of 40,629 mines from the original total of 272,410 stated in Portugal’s two previous Article 7 reports.[19] The revised data was also presented at the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003, with details of the destruction processes and a timeline showing the progress of the destruction program which started in February 2002.[20]

Mines retained under Article 3

The number of antipersonnel mines retained for permitted purposes under Article 3 of the treaty totals 1,115 mines (instead of the 3,523 originally declared). The types of mines are not reported.[21] They are retained “for instruction purposes in the following areas: detection, demining and destruction.”[22]

Mine Action Assistance

Portugal’s December 2002 Article 13 Report states that because “Portugal is not a mine affected State...co-operation does not include mine clearance issues.”[23]

At the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003, Portugal reported that the Army had participated in international missions with a clearance component in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Timor Leste, and has previously assisted demining in Angola.[24] In May 2003, the Portuguese delegation announced that discussions for future cooperation on mine action had been started with Angola and Guinea-Bissau.[25] Guinea-Bissau’s Secretary of State, Nhassé Na Mã, said he “regretted the lack of Portuguese help and the failure to keep a promise to send 50 deminers to train Guineans, which was finally done free of charge by Mozambicans.”[26]

The System and Robotics Institute is working on mine detecting and robot guiding algorithms (multiple sensor data fusing, a friendly robot-guiding system for uneven terrain and obstacles). The research team is also writing a book on “Robots for Humanitarian Demining.”[27]

Survivor Assistance

In March 2003, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Portugal continues to assist Angola through a physiotherapeutic support program for war-affected children (since 1999), which involves Coimbra’s Military Hospital. The project cost €10,000 [US$9,500] for the year 2002.”[28]

According to the doctor responsible for the physiotherapy department, “A new group of children is awaited, which will eventually arrive after our visit [to Angola] in July 2003. Four children remain in Coimbra, in the communidade São Francisco. One of them, a boy, underwent surgery on his stump which had grown. All of them received new physiotherapy treatment and prostheses since they are all growing up. Two of them are studying and two others are receiving professional training.”[29]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 415.
[2] Vilar de Jesus, Defense Policy Directorate, Ministry of Defense, and Fernando de Brito, First Secretary, Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, ”Ottawa Convention Process Implementation,” Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003.
[3] Interview with Vilar de Jesus, Ministry of Defense, Geneva, 7 February 2003.
[4] Article 7 Report, 9 September 2002 (for the calendar year 2001); Article 7 Report, 30 April 2001 (for the period 3 December 1997–31 January 2001); Article 7 Report, 1 February 2000 (for the period 3 December 1999–31 January 2000).
[5] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form D, 11 December 2002.
[6] “Relatório Lusófono do Monitor de Minas 2002 – Rumo a um Mundo livre de Minas,” legal deposit number 186936/02, Lisbon, October 2002.
[7] Intervention by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[8] Interview with Vilar de Jesus, Ministry of Defense, Permanent Mission to the UN, Geneva, 7 February 2003.
[9] Interview with Fernando de Brito, Permanent Mission to the UN, Geneva, 7 February 2003.
[10] Interview with Vilar de Jesus, Ministry of Defense, Geneva, 7 February 2003.
[11] Interview Fernando de Brito, Permanent Mission to the UN, Geneva, 7 February 2003.
[12] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 708.
[13] Ana Tomás Ribeiro and Filipe Fialho, “Amizades Luso-Iraquianas” (“Luso-Iraqi Friendships”), Visão (weekly magazine), 27 February to 5 March 2003. The article was based on a National Statistics Institute and ICEP (Investment, Commerce and Tourism of Portugal) document mentioning an official transaction of “Bombs, grenades, torpedoes, mines, missiles, cartridges and other projectiles munitions and its components” for a total of 10,041,000 Portuguese escudos.
[14] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 708. Portuguese mines have been found in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
[15] Guinea-Bissau, Article 7 Report, Form H, 19 June 2002.
[16] Letter from the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN in New York, ONU/2003/67, 9 May 2003.
[17] “Paulo Portas destruiu última mina anti-pessoal,” LUSA, 25 June 2003.
[18] Article 7 Report, Form B, 9 September 2002.
[19] The discrepancy is explained as resulting from “a more specific, methodical and accurate mine counting.” Article 7 Report, Form J, 9 September 2002.
[20] Intervention by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[21] Ibid; Article 7 Report, Form D, 9 September 2002.
[22] Letter from Manuel Carvalho, Director, Defense and Security Service Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, 3 March 2003.
[23] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form B, 11 December 2002.
[24] Intervention by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[25] Intervention by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 15 May 2003 (Landmine Monitor notes).
[26] “Destruição de 7 milhões de minas em Angola levará muito tempo,” no. 4138297, LUSA (media agency), Geneva, 23 September 2002.
[27] Email from Lino Marques, DEMINE research program director, System and Robotics Institute, 12 November 2002.
[28] Letter from Manuel Carvalho, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 March 2003.
[29] Telephone interview with Dr. Fontes, Physiotherapeutic Department, Coimbra Military Hospital, Coimbra, 25 March 2003.