Under the title “No to the Horizon2020 Law Train project – No to cooperation with Israel’s repressive system!”, on Thursday 24, a large coalition of Portuguese forces has held the official launch of a campaign aimed at ending the participation of the Portuguese ministry of Justice and the police in a joint, EU funded project with Israeli police forces.
The project Law Train is meant to unify the methodology for interrogation among Israeli and EU police forces and is a de facto normalisation of Israel’s most cruel practices, including physical and psychological torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, threats, racial discrimination. It is coordinated from Israel and includes the participation of the Israeli Ministry of Public Security/Israeli National Police, the Ministry of Justice of Portugal/Judiciary Police, the Federal Public Service of Justice of Belgium and the Ministry of Interior of Spain/Guardia Civil. For more click here
At the eve of the International Day against Torture (June 26), the Movement for the Rights of the Palestinian People and Peace in the Middle East (MPPM) presented a joint declaration of over 15 national organizations and movements, including Palestine Solidarity organizations, the General Federation of Portuguese Trade Unions, organizations working against racism and police violence as well as the Association 25th of April, dedicated at upholding the memory and principles of the revolution that overthrew dictatorship in Portugal in 1974.
In the declaration, the organizations state that:
“With their cooperation, the EU and the countries participating in the LAW-TRAIN project, including Portugal, are objectively validating the Israeli system of control and military repression, which includes illegal methodologies "interrogations", and help to maintain it by giving it political and moral cover. With that they violate their obligations under international law and tarnish their duty to uphold justice and human rights.
“The Portuguese constitution provides that international relations of Portugal are to be governed by the principles of national independence, respect for human rights and the rights of peoples".
“The undersigning organizations, committed to the defense of freedom and respect for human rights, protest against this involvement of Portugal with entities that have the negation of these values as their mission and urge the Portuguese Government to immediately cease its participation in the project LAW -Train because we consider it completely unacceptable that institutions of democratic Portugal are associated through this project with the repressive organs of the State of Israel.”
After an introduction by the vice-president of the MPPM, Carlos Almeida, on the political meaning of such a project within the context of Palestine and Portugal, the international outreach coordinator of Stop the Wall presented the framework of the wider campaign to end EU funding and projects that include Israeli companies and institutions that form the military and security sector of the country. Further campaign efforts are being planned.
The same day, José Luís Ferreira, MP of the Green Party in Portugal, submitted a written questions to the foreign ministry denouncing the project and asking:
- “1- How do you justify the participation of the government of Portugal in the LAW-TRAIN project, since there is an association and cooperation with repressive organs of Israel?
- 2 – Faced with this situation, does the Portuguese government consider to cease its participation in the LAW-TRAIN project?
- 3- Does the government intend to address the European Commission regarding the termination of this project and the direct or indirect financing of the military-industrial complex Israeli?
- 4- How does the government explain that European public funds to finance research and development activities end up financing mechanisms that violate human rights?”
This question follows the questioning of the Ministry of Justice by the parliamentary bloc of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), on May 20, which denounced the project and asked:
- “1 – Has the participation of the Portuguese State from the above mentioned project Law Train already been rescinded or not?
- 2 – If this step has not been taken yet, how does the government accompany this process and when does it preview that Portugal will disassociate itself from this unacceptable situation?
- 3 – What data or information have been shared, in the framework of this project, in connection with criminal investigation and Portuguese judicial authorities? What are these data or informations and which are the exact entities that have access to them?”
(For the full request of information, see here.)
MIGUEL VIEGAS, MEP of the PCP has questioned the European Commission:
“How does it assess a situation, in which European public funds to finance R&D activity end up feeding torture mechanisms and human rights violations
“Given this evidence, what does the European Commission plans to do to stop the LAW-TRAIN project and to stop in the same manner with any direct or indirect financing of the Israeli repressive military-industrial complex.”
For the full question see here)
None of the parliamentary questions have received answers yet.