Major changes to Terrorism Laws

The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism represents a mobilization of commitment, coordination and cooperation of all national structures, with direct and indirect responsibility in the fight against this threat,” said the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anabela Rodrigues, at the press conference after the meeting of the Council of Ministers decided that its adoption, where was also present the Minister of Justice, Paula Teixeira da Cruz.

Adding that “the cooperation between the armed forces and security forces and services is deepened in view of the objectives defined in the Strategy”, the Minister listed the structuring its five pillars:

  • Sense – is the early identification of action potential terrorist threats, through the acquisition of essential knowledge for effective combat;
  • Prevent – is to understand and identify the causes that determine the appearance of processes of radicalization, recruitment and terrorist acts;
  • Protect – is to strengthen the security of the priority targets, reducing both their vulnerability, whether the impact of potential terrorist threats;
  • Chase – is the action to dismantle or neutralize terrorist initiatives designed or running, and their support networks, preventing the movement and communications and access to finance and usable materials in the terrorist attacks and submit events to the action of justice; and
  • Reply – is the operational management of all means to be used in response to terrorist incidents. Responsiveness to limit the consequences of a terrorist act, whether the human level, both in terms of infrastructure.

Under this strategy, the anti-terrorism coordination unit will have the increased powers and is responsible for the coordination and the actions arising from the continued plans.

In order to adjust existing legislation to the Strategy, the Council of Ministers also approved eight bills. The Minister of Justice said that these proposals change:

  • The Criminal Procedure Code, updating the definition of terrorism;
  • The Nationality Law, densificando the requirements for the granting of nationality by naturalization and for opposing the granting of Portuguese nationality;
  • The law establishes the legal regime of covert actions for prevention and criminal investigation;
  • The law establishing measures to combat organized, economic and financial crime, to cover all criminal offenses related to terrorism;
  • The law to combat terrorism, criminalizing public apology for the crime of terrorism and membership of terrorist organizations;
  • The legal system of entry, stay, exit and removal of foreigners from national territory;
  • The Organization Law of Criminal Investigation, to cover all criminal offenses related to terrorism; and
  • The Internal Security Act, adding skills to the composition of the Higher Internal Security Council and strengthening the organization’s Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit.

On 22 June 2015 Portugal has amended its Nationality Act by Organic Law 8/2015. Under the amended law, the Public Prosecutor may oppose to a nationality acquisition by marriage or other family relations, if the person who wants to acquire the Portuguese nationality represents a threat to the national security or is involved in terrorist activities. The same applies to acquisition of citizenship via naturalisation where, until now, one could not acquire the Portuguese citizenship if the person was convicted for having especially serious criminal offence. Under the revised law, a person does not acquire the Portuguese citizenship either if he or she represents a threat to the national security or is involved in terrorist activities.

These amendment were adopted by Portugal following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks and the involvement of Portuguese jihadists in IS, as part of a national strategy to combat terrorism.