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How has extreme right violence been criminalised in contemporary Portugal?

Extremism
Political Violence
Terrorism
Raquel da Silva
Universidade de Coimbra
Cátia Carvalho
University of Porto
Raquel da Silva
Universidade de Coimbra
Mariana Reis Barbosa
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
João Paulo Ventura
Judiciary Police-National Counter-Terrorism Unit (PJ-UNCT)

Abstract

There is historical evidence pointing to the fact that extreme right violence has not always been prosecuted under terrorism legislation, but under various other criminal statutes. In Portugal, since the regulation of terrorism in the Penal Code in 1982, namely through Articles 300 and 301, which were then replaced by the new law on the fight against terrorism in 2003 (Law no. 52/2003, dated August, 22nd), there have only been three terrorism convictions. However, none was related to extreme right violence, despite the existence of numerous ideologically motivated crimes committed by groups and individuals occupying this side of the political spectrum. At the end of the 20th century, extreme right violence was closely linked to the arrival in Portugal of the skinhead subculture, which joined the already existing nationalist organisation MAN (Movimento de Acção Nacional/Movement of National Action). At the beginning of the new millennium, the skinhead movement was strengthened by the creation of the PHS (Portugal Hammer Skin), which, for a brief period, appeared at the forefront of the nationalist milieu. This paper examines how the violent actions carried out by these organisations (including murders, destruction of patrimony and numerous inter-ethnic assaults) have been criminalised by the Portuguese judicial system in comparison with the latter two terrorist convictions that took place in Portugal in 2012 (ETA-related) and in 2019 (Daesh-related). Finally, we explore what lessons can be learned regarding broader efforts to counter extreme right violence.