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Country Reports
Portugal, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: Portugal corrected the number of antipersonnel mines destroyed in its stockpile destruction program completed in March 2003, adding an additional 40,186 mines discovered in old factories.

Key developments since 1999: Portugal became a State Party on 1 August 1999. In February 2002, Portugal stated that domestic implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, including penal sanctions, is already accomplished by existing legislation. Stockpile destruction started in February 2002 after a number of delays. Destruction of 271,967 antipersonnel mines was completed in March 2003. The total stockpile number was revised twice in Portugal’s Article 7 reports, downward in 2002 and upward in 2003. Portugal reported in 2002 that it would retain 1,115 mines instead of the 3,523 mines it originally planned to keep. Portugal has provided few details on its mine action funding over the last five years.

Mine Ban Policy

Portugal signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 19 February 1999, becoming a State Party on 1 August 1999. Portugal first expressed support for a total and immediate ban on antipersonnel mines in May 1996. At the same time, it announced an indefinite moratorium on the production, export and use (except for training purposes) of antipersonnel landmines. Portugal took part in all preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process.

After considering whether new legislation was needed to provide penal sanctions for violations of the treaty, Portugal decided in February 2002 that the requirements of Article 9 of the treaty are already met by existing legislation.[1]

Portugal participated in the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2003, where its representative expressed commitment to the treaty’s aims and referred to Portugal’s support for Angolan child war amputees.[2] Portugal has attended all annual Meetings of States Parties and intersessional meetings, though with a relatively low profile. At the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003, Portugal gave a detailed presentation of Portugal’s implementation of the treaty, including legislation, stockpile destruction, mine action and victim assistance, and its efforts at universalization. It was stated that Portugal “does not accept any negotiation which can set up exceptions to the ultimate goal of the Ottawa Convention.” [3]

Portugal submitted its annual Article 7 report on 27 April 2004, covering calendar year 2003, and including the voluntary Form J, which was used to explain a revision in the number of stockpiled mines that were destroyed. Portugal submitted three previous Article 7 reports, however it failed to meet its obligation to submit a report in 2003.[4]

Portugal has stated that it promotes universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty, especially with Lusophone African countries.[5] Details of these efforts, however, have not been made public. In December 2003, Portugal voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 58/53, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Portugal has voted for similar resolutions in previous years.

Portugal has rarely engaged in the extensive discussions that States Parties have had during intersessional meetings on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3. It has, however, on other occasions made known its views and practice on issues related to joint military operations with non-States Parties, foreign transit of antipersonnel mines, and antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices.

Portugal has made several statements on the legality of activities involving antipersonnel mines during joint military operations that include both States Parties and States not party to the Mine Ban Convention. Most recently, the Ministry of National Defense stated, “Portugal reserves itself the right to participate in joint operations with any country, including those who, not having ratified the Ottawa Convention, continue to use antipersonnel mines. Portugal, being a State Party to the Ottawa Convention, will not use antipersonnel mines. A guarantee that Portugal will not benefit, in such case, would be assured at the operational level.”[6]

At the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003 Portugal confirmed previous statements 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 as a State Party of the Ottawa Convention, would not give the authorization to mine transfers.”[7] In relation to a joint exercise with US forces in 1999/2000, Portugal raised objections on these points, including a refusal to participate where Claymore mines were involved.[8]

Regarding the possible transit of antipersonnel mines through the US base at Lajes on Terceira, in the Azores islands, the Ministry of National Defense stated, “Under the Lajes agreement, mines belong to the category of contentious material. As such, any transfer would have to be submitted for authorization by Portugal. Such a case has not occurred to date. If it does occur, Portugal, being a State Party to the Ottawa Convention, will not authorize any transfer of antipersonnel mines.”[9] Portugal’s representative to the UN also stated in February 2003 that “to the extent possible, we do the possible and necessary controls. 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.”[10]

Portuguese officials have told Landmine Monitor that Portugal is in favor of banning antivehicle mines which can function in an indiscriminate way. They also said Portugal believed Claymore mines should be included in the Mine Ban Treaty, and that the Review Conference should attend to this issue. [11]

Portugal is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II. Portugal attended the Fifth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 20003. Portuguese authorities did not respond to inquiries as to whether the annual Protocol II Article 13 report was submitted in 2003.[12] Portugal has attended annual conferences and submitted Article 13 reports in previous years.

Production, Transfer and Use

Portugal was a producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines in the past. The extent of production and export is not known, but the appearance of Portuguese mines in at least ten countries suggests that it was extensive.[13] Portugal’s Article 7 reports identify four types of mine produced by Portugal, as well as two types imported from Italy and one from the United States; six additional types of Portuguese mines have been reported by others.[14]

Portugal imposed an indefinite moratorium on the production and export of antipersonnel mines in May 1996, which was superceded by the Mine Ban Treaty when it entered into force for Portugal in August 1999.[15] Portugal reported to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that general production ceased in the late 1970s, with sporadic production until 1988.[16] The Ministry of Defense identified two production facilities, which were converted to civilian production.[17]

Portugal has reserved the right to develop alternatives to antipersonnel mines in the future, but stated that these would fully respect the spirit of the Mine Ban Treaty.[18]

The 1996 moratorium also banned the use of antipersonnel mines, except for training purposes. Portugal last used antipersonnel mines in its colonial wars, which ended in 1974.[19]

Stockpiling and Destruction

Portugal’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines totaled 271,967, according to its most recent Article 7 report.[20] This upward revision from the previous total of 231,781 is explained by the discovery of an additional 40,186 mines in old factories.[21] Previously, the total was given as 272,410 in the first two Article 7 reports.[22] This was revised to 231,781 in the third Article 7 report of March 2002, which also changed the previous subtotals for each type of mine to four generic categories. The reduced total was explained as resulting from “a more specific, methodical and accurate mine counting.”[23] The stockpile total of 231,781 was presented at the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003, with details of the stockpile destruction program that started in February 2002.[24]

The stockpile destruction program was completed on 21 February 2003, with the additional 40,186 mines being demilitarized by March 2003.[25] Portugal’s deadline set by Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty for stockpile destruction was 1 August 2003.

The 231,781 and revised 271,967 stockpile totals apparently do not include the mines Portugal is retaining for training purposes. In 2003, Portugal reported that the stockpile of 231,781 mines was destroyed, but that 1,115 mines were also being retained for permitted training purposes.[26]

The quantity of 1,115 mines retained under Article 3 of the treaty is a reduction from the 3,523 mines which Portugal originally announced that it would retain. Portugal has not reported the types of mines retained. They are retained “for training purposes in the areas of detection, demining and destruction.”[27]

Research and Development

The System and Robotics Institute (Instituto de Sistemas e Roboticas, ISR) of Coimbra University has carried out work on the multinational DEMINE project since 2001. In March 2004, ISR’s program director reported that the robotic platform is now stabilized in terms of structure and sensor fuzing, but new funding and partners are needed, and additional types of mine for testing.[28]

In 1999, Portugal participated and partly financed the International Institute for Aerospace and Earth Science (ITC) joint international project, involving several European countries, for the development of an airborne remote sensing minefield detection system, which was tested in Mozambique.

Mine Action Funding

Other than a survivor assistance program (see below), Portugal has provided no information on Portuguese governmental funding and assistance for mine action in 2003.[29] Portugal did not include funding and assistance in its Article 7 report for 2003. Portugal has not provided funding information to the UN Mine Action Investments database for any year, including 2003.[30]

Details of funding in previous years may be incomplete. Prior to 1999, Portugal donated US$150,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance (VTF). In 1999, it donated $20,000 to the VTF and $20,000 to Mozambique for demining. Another donation of $150,000 to $200,000 was budgeted for 2000, but it is not known if this was ever actually provided.[31]

In February 2003, Portugal announced plans to create a permanent Defense Commission focusing on cooperation with countries such as Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau.[32] In May 2003, it was announced that discussions for future cooperation on mine action had started with Angola and Guinea-Bissau.[33] No further developments have been reported.

In December 2002, Portugal stated that because “Portugal is not a mine-affected State, [its] co-operation does not include mine clearance issues.”[34] However, Portugal reported to the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003 that the army has participated in missions with a clearance component in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Timor Leste, and has assisted demining in Angola.[35] In December 2000, Portugal reported to the OSCE that Portuguese soldiers helped demining in Angola. A Portuguese private company—Carlos Gassmann Tecnologias de Vanguarda Aplicadas—carried out small demining tasks and quality assurance evaluation in Mozambique.[36]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2003, Portugal reported that “we are directly giving support to Angolan children who are amputee war victims, through a technical military cooperation agreement. We are studying further measures in this and in related fields in contact with interested third parties.”[37]

In 2003, Portugal provided €60,716 ($68,700)[38] to continue its program of physiotherapeutic care for Angolan child amputee war victims.[39] This was started in 1999. Project costs reported since 1999 total $285,946 (1999: $107,500; 2000: $44,166; 2001: $56,080; 2002: $9,500, 2003: $68,700). The funding is directed to Coimbra’s Military Hospital, which carries out the project. Children are selected in groups of ten, from six to 20 years of age.[40]

As of May 2004, a total of 44 Angolan children (both girls and boys who suffered amputations as a result of mine incidents) had benefited from medical treatment in Coimbra Hospital. The last group of 10 survivors returned to Angola in December 2003. It was planned that a hospital team would visit Angola in 2004 to choose a new group of children for treatment in Portugal. Training courses for Angolan staff are under discussion.[41]

Disabled ex-military personnel living in Portugal are mostly mine or UXO survivors from Angola and Mozambique, who fought in the Portuguese Army during the colonial wars. They reportedly plan to file a suit against the Portuguese State, including the Ministry of National Defense, in order to claim disability entitlements. Most of the 33 Mozambicans and one Angolan are unable to work and have no income, and live in military facilities where they receive food and medical aid. Their right to disability entitlements has been refused, partly on the grounds that they are not Portuguese. However, this was judged to be unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in 2001, and only nine of the 34 ex-military involved do not have Portuguese nationality.

An Angolan survivor qualified as a disabled ex-soldier in 1972 and received a disability pension until 1975, which then ceased. In October 2003, he started receiving a monthly disability pension of €539 ($610). [42]

In January 2001, a Portuguese national was injured when his vehicle hit a landmine during the Paris-Dakar rally.[43]

NGO Activities

In 2003, ALEM-SOLVIG (Acção Lusófona de Erradicação das Minas e de Solidariedade para com as Vítimas de Guerra), the national campaign on landmines and explosive remnants of war, supported the Clube de Jovens da Huíla, in Lubango, Angola, covering the costs of a small victim assistance program. This program included breeding small animals and husbandry. ALEM-SOLVIG also provided translation of funding proposals which enabled the Clube to purchase two jeeps. ALEM-SOLVIG was formed in March 2002 to advocate the full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty in Portugal, notably assistance to Lusophone countries such as Angola and Mozambique, and assistance to people in all countries suffering from Portuguese-manufactured antipersonnel mines. In May 2002, ALEM-SOLVIG organized an event for survivors of mines and unexploded ordnance living in Lisbon, which was supported by the city council. In October 2002, ALEM-SOLVIG released a report in Portuguese containing the Landmine Monitor reports for eight Lusophone countries.[44]

In 2000, the Portuguese branch of the Jesuit Refugee Service provided support to the Angolan branch for the education of mine survivors in Luena. Also in 2000, the Esperança training association organized events in Lisbon to draw attention to the mine problem in Angola.[45]

[1] Article 7 Report, Form A, 9 September 2002; letter from Manuel Carvalho, Director, Defense and Security Service Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 February 2002. See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 761, and Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 415.
[2] Statement by Amb. Joao de Lima Pimentel, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, Bangkok, 16 September 2003.
[3] 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.
[4] See Article 7 reports submitted: 27 April 2004 (for calendar year 2003); 9 September 2002 (for calendar year 2001); 30 April 2001 (for the period 3 December 1997–31 January 2001); 1 February 2000 (for the period 3 December 1999–31 January 2000).
[5] Statement by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[6] Letter from Vasco Seruya, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN in Geneva, including reply from the Ministry of National Defense, 4 May 2004. Translated by Landmine Monitor.
[7] Statement by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003. See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 402. See also Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 417.
[8] Interview with Vilar de Jesus, Ministry of Defense, and Fernando de Brito, Permanent Mission to the UN, Geneva, 7 February 2003. See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 402. For similar statements in previous years, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 763–764.
[9] Letter from Permanent Mission Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN, 4 May 2004.
[10] Interview with Vilar de Jesus and Fernando de Brito, 7 February 2003.
[11] Ibid. See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, pp. 402–403.
[12] Landmine Monitor Questionnaires to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided 18 March 2004, and Ministry of Defense, provided 27 April 2004. The CCW website did not show an Article 13 report submitted by Portugal in 2003, as of 27 June 2004.
[13] Portuguese mines have been found in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In 1988, Portuguese mines were also exported to Nigeria. See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 708.
[14] Article 7 Report, Forms B and H, 1 February 2000. This, and other Article 7 reports, describes the types of mines stockpiled as M969, M969 grenade/booby-trap, M972, M966, M18A1 Claymore (imported from the US), Valmara and VS-50 (both imported from Italy). The report adds a final general category of antipersonnel mine. Independent sources have identified additional types: M469, M453, M432, M421, M412 and M411/MAPS. Portuguese mines designated M59 have also been found in Guinea-Bissau. See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 708, and Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 403.
[15] The Portuguese magazine Visão reported that Portugal exported mines to Iraq in 1993. Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 403.
[16] Portugal Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 7 December 1999, p. 2; Article 7 Report, Form E, 27 April 2004.
[17] Letter from the Ministry of Defense, 4 January 2001; Article 7 Report, Form E, 30 April 2001; Article 7 Report, Form E, 27 April 2004.
[18] Interview with Dr. Saldanha Serra, General Director, National Defense Policy, Ministry of Defense, Lisbon, 29 March 2000.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Article 7 Report, Form B, 27 April 2004. Three categories of mine are reported: “blasting antipersonnel mines” (220,434); “antipersonnel fragmentation mines” (51,528); and “antipersonnel” (5).
[21] Article 7 Report, Form J, 27 April 2004.
[22] Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 April 2001; Article 7 Report, Form B, 1 February 2000.
[23] Article 7 Report, Form B, 9 September 2002. The categories and quantities reported were: “Antipersonnel blast mine” (190,517); “Antipersonnel fragmentation mine” (38,189); “Inert antipersonnel mine” (2,501); and “Antipersonnel mine” (574).
[24] Statement by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003. Regarding discrepancies in the stockpile total and location of the destruction program, see also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 764–766, and Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 417–419.
[25] Letter from Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN, 9 May 2003; Article 7 Report, Form J, 27 April 2004.
[26] Letter from Permanent Mission of Portugal, 9 May 2003. The same data was reported at the Standing Committee meeting on 6 February 2003.
[27] Article 7 Report, Form D, 27 April 2004; letter from Manuel Carvalho, Director, Defense and Security Service Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, 3 March 2003.
[28] Email from Lino Marques, Research Program Director, System and Robotics Institute, 24 March 2004.
[29] Landmine Monitor 2004 Questionnaires to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense went unanswered.
[30] Mine Action Investments database, accessed at www.mineactioninvestments.org on 27 June 2004.
[31] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 766.
[32] Statement by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[33] Intervention by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 15 May 2003.
[34] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form B, submitted on 11 December 2002.
[35] Statement by Portugal, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[36] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 766.
[37] Statement by Portugal, Fifth Meeting of States Parties, 16 September 2003. Further details were requested, but not supplied.
[38] Exchange rate for 2003 of €1=$1.1315, used throughout this report. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2004.
[39] Letter from Permanent Mission Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN, 4 May 2004.
[40] “Child victims of landmines return from Portugal,” ANGOP (Angolan press agency), 16 December 2003.
[41] Telephone interview with, and email from, Col. Carlos Manuel Armas da Silveira Gonçalves, Director, Coimbra Hospital, and from ALEM-SOLVIG, May 2004.
[42] Vera Magarreiro, “Ex-combatentes: Ainda a luta...agora por uma pensão” (“Veterans: still fighting...now for a pension.”), LUSA (news agency), 31 January 2004. Additional information from interviews by ALEM-SOLVIG at the Electro-mechanics Military School, Paço de Arcos, Lisbon, and the Military Transmissions Regiment, Lisbon, 4 March 2002, and ALEM-SOLVIG event, Lisbon, 18 May 2002.
[43] “Dakar Driver Loses Foot in Explosion,” Associated Press (Morocco), 8 January 2001.
[44] “Relatório Lusófono do Monitor de Minas 2002 – Rumo a um Mundo livre de Minas,” (Landmine Monitor Lusophone Report 2002 – Toward a mine-free world), legal deposit number 186936/02, Lisbon, October 2002.
[45] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 710.