European Heritage

Sitios de la categoría Intergubernamental. Sello de Patrimonio Europeo

Abolition of the death penalty

Portugal was the first European country to abolish the death penalty and renounced its application well before it was legally abolished. The death penalty was abolished for “political offences” in 1852, in the reign of María II, by a modification of the Constitution, and for “civil offences” in 1867, in the reign of King Luis. The death penalty still existed in the Army until 1911, under the Code of Military Justice. Its total abolition came with the new Constitution of the Portuguese First Republic. During the First World War, in 1916, it was reintroduced for “treasonous offences” in times of war, and could only be applied in a war setting. It was again totally abolished in 1976 under the new democratic regime, whose Constitution sets out that “the death penalty will not be applied under any circumstances.”

Since 1834 there have been no cases where the death penalty was applied for political offences in Portugal. The last execution recorded on Portuguese soil for a civil offence was in 1846, in the southern city of Lagos. The last time a woman was executed in Portugal was, according to the records, on 1 July 1772.


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