PSP National Director Magina da Silva confirmed the ten-day suspension of Agent Manuel Morais – known for his anti-racism – for posting on his personal Facebook that right-wing MP André Ventura was an “aberration” and declared: “Behead this disgusting one Racists who don’t deserve the water they drink. “Manuel Morais’ lawyer told the PUBLIC that he would go to the Administrative Court to appeal to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Eduardo Cabrita, to reverse the decision.
The appeal has no suspensive effect. On the day after the notification – i.e. tomorrow – Manuel Morais is prevented from exercising his functions for ten days and from accessing his workplace and surrendering his weapon. If the decision is reversed, the reduced salary will be restored for the ten days of suspension and the days will be counted again for seniority purposes.
The comments were made in a post from June 14-15, 2020 that someone reported anonymously to the PSP press office.
During the punishment by the deontologist of the Special Police Unit, which has now been confirmed by Magina da Silva, the PSP was of the opinion that Manuel Morais had violated “functional obligations”. The simple suspension was decided for ten days – the sentence could range from five to 120 days.
Manuel Morais, a well-known PSP anti-racist agent and human rights activist, claims to have made the statements as a citizen and not as a police officer. This was not the first time his anti-racism comments earned him peer sentences. After 30 years as an executive at the Union Association of Police Professionals (ASPP), Manuel Morais was dismissed in 2019 because of his allegations of racism in the PSP.
When the PSP was questioned, it did not answer any questions from PUBLIC at that time about how many agents have been sanctioned for Facebook posts and what sanctions have been imposed. The PUBLIC tried unsuccessfully to obtain a statement from the PSP, which also did not clarify whether it had opened disciplinary proceedings against João Nunes, an agent convicted in the proceedings of the Alfragide Police Station, who posted on his Facebook who traffickers and bandits has called to the victims and says that the justice system is “rotten wood”. But to Parliament, the Inspector General of Internal Administration (IGAI), Anabela Cabral Ferreira, told Parliament last week that there is a disciplinary proceeding against one of Alfragide’s agents who had given social media slurs about the judges who sentenced him – did not say the name, but it is believed to be Nunes.
In the process to which the PUBLIC had access, Manuel Morais made it clear to the PSP that “he did not want to insult or behead anyone in the truest sense of the word at any time”, but only “had to convey that it is necessary, the racist to behead ideas that harm society in general ”. Manuel Morais justifies this with the fact that “I did not want to refer specifically to André Ventura, but to many ideas that he has already expressed publicly”. In addition, the agent said he had deleted the publication “in order not to cause any misunderstandings” and tried to contact André Ventura “to clarify that he did not wish him harm and to apologize if the publication would cause him had offended “but he couldn’t.
He affirmed “sorry for the way he expressed himself” and said that “he has never offended Mr. Deputy, neither wished him death nor called him racist”. He also explained when referring to it “If the racists were beheaded, in the context of several statues being destroyed,” “to show that it is wrong to destroy our historical heritage by cutting off the heads of the statues, and that it would be better to racism to end, that is, to behead racism. “
Ana Gomes and Rui Pereira: paying witnesses
However, the head of the litigation did not accept the reasoning. Manuel Morais presented exonerating witnesses, former minister of internal administration Rui Pereira, presidential candidate Ana Gomes and judge António Colaço, and questioned the PSP decision because it violated some principles such as freedom of expression, equality and proportionality.
Ana Gomes defended that the publication was in accordance with the principle of freedom of expression and agrees that the “reference to beheading is directed to ideology and history, not to people”; He justified the “strong language” with “the feeling of many citizens in the face of the growth of many voices which question the constitution and democracy, stir up hatred and idle public powers”. Regarding the term “aberration” for Ventura, he also mentions that it was “something unusual, ie anti-democratic behavior by a democratically elected MP who was supposed to act in defense of democracy: in this case MP André Ventura, who systematically says he wants to destroy the constitution and the democratic system. “
On the other hand, Rui Pereira also argues that he believes the words have been used figuratively, mentioning that “the word decapitation in political language is aimed at cutting an ideology, behavior”. “Given what you know about the accused, a humanistic person, it would never be intended to refer to a person’s cut,” he says. The ex-minister relies on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights to formulate the words in freedom of expression.
The PSP is of the opinion that the thoughts and ideals of Manuel Morais were not at stake, but “how he expressed himself in a social network in which he is identified as the police about a member of the Assembly of the Republic” All freedom has limits and that freedom of expression has limits too, “he says. In the decision he states that “police officers, even if this was the case in the figurative sense, cannot go so far in their freedoms”. “The publication of derogatory comments on a deputy of the Assembly of the Republic is a violation of the duty to pursue the public interest” and also violates the “duty to be honest” and “duty to correct”.