sábado, maio 26, 2007

To the Foreign Editor of The Independent


I am positively stunned by the inaccuracy, to say the least, of what is said on this extract of an article of The Independent, available online at this address: http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article2563048.ece.

"Some here believe that the British presence, in all its insatiable intensity, has shaken the Portuguese police service from a secrecy which is an overhang from the Communist regime, which remained until the revolution of 1974."

Not only is it untrue that Portugal was ever ruled by a Communist regime -- if you have to know, the regime before 1974 can only be described as a Conservative Dictatorship, much like in most countries in Southern Europe during most part of the 20th century -- as the "secrecy" around police investigations serves three purposes which may be unheard of in England. Firstly, it exists to protect the investigation itself. This avoids the Police having to lie to the press, which only too eagerly wants to get all the information it wants, regardless of the consequences to the police work. Secondly, it protects both private life and intimacy and also the principle that no one is guilty until proven otherwise.

The fact that the world today tends to sacrifice private life, intimacy and the presumption of innocence in order to get juicy news on the press does not make the Portuguese legally-imposed secrecy in police investigations a "overhang" from any anachronistic regime. In light of current events we may be forced to re-think a trade-off between the right to inform and the rights of the individual but this was already a matter of debate much before the "British presence".

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