Portugal was a pioneer in the process of abolition of capital punishment. No executions have been carried out since 1846, with the formal abolishment of capital punishment for civil crimes occurring in 1867.

The method of capital punishment used in Portugal was by hanging. Portugal was the first country in the world to begin the process to abolish the death penalty,[1] abolishing it in stages – for political crimes in 1852, for all crimes except the military in 1867, and for all crimes in 1911. In 1916, Portugal entered in World War I and it was re-established only for military crimes in wartime with a foreign country and only in the theatre of war.[2] With the new Constitution in 1976, it was again abolished for all crimes.[3][4][5]

The last execution in Portugal took place in Lagos in 1846. The execution of a soldier of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps carried out in France during World War I was poorly documented[6][7] until recently; soldier João Augusto Ferreira de Almeida, executed by firing squad on 16 September 1917, was issued a "moral rehabilitation" by the Council of Ministers and the President of the Republic (as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces) in 2017 (100th anniversary of his execution and 150th anniversary of the end of capital punishment for civil crimes in Portugal) — the action was purely symbolic, and not a reappreciation of the facts of the case, an exoneration, or a pardon; merely the "rehabilitation of the memory of a soldier convicted to a sentence contrary to human rights and the values and principles that have been long ingrained in Portuguese society."[8]

In the 2008 European Values Study (EVS), 51.6% of respondents in Portugal said the death penalty can never be justified, while only 1.5% said it can be always justified.[9]


Today, most political circles are opposed to the idea of reintroducing the death penalty,[citation needed] although it has support from some members of the Chega, a far right, anti-immigration and nationalist political party. In a 2020 Chega party referendum, 44% voted in favour of death penalty for crimes such as terrorism or child abuse.[10][11]


  1. ^ "The end of capital punishment in Europe", Capital Punishment UK
  2. ^ "Law 635: Amendment to the Portuguese Constitution of 1911, Article 3 – Exception on the Death Penalty Article" (PDF). Diário do Governo da República Portuguesa (in Portuguese). República Portuguesa. 28 September 1916. Retrieved 4 May 2017. [Translation]: The Death Penalty... cannot be reestablished in any case (...) # with the exception, about the Death Penalty, only in case of war with a foreign country (...) and only in the theatre of war.
  3. ^ "The end of capital punishment in Europe", Capital Punishment UK
  4. ^ "Document – Death Penalty Statistics 2006", Amnesty International
  5. ^ "Constitution of the Portuguese Republic: Article 24º, Nº2" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  6. ^ "The end of capital punishment in Europe", Capital Punishment UK
  7. ^ "Document – Death Penalty Statistics 2006", Amnesty International
  8. ^ "Presidente da República associa-se a "reabilitação moral" de soldado condenado a pena de morte" [President of the Republic joins the "moral rehabilitation" of soldier sentenced to death] (in Portuguese). Diário de Notícias. 16 September 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  9. ^ "GESIS: ZACAT". zacat.gesis.org. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Chega militants fail death penalty and re-elect André Ventura". 6 September 2020.
  11. ^ https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lCZzmR3WkEkJ:https://jornaleconomico.sapo.pt/en/news/eleicoes-diretas-do-chega-chamam-11-313-militantes-a-referendar-andre-ventura-e-a-pena-de-morte-633261+&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au