Portugal's minister of justice, Francisca Van Dunem, told parliament on Wednesday that state institutions may sometimes fail to work together as is necessary when inmates escape from prison, but said that “there is no security problem" in the country's prisons.
“There is no security problem here in Portuguese jails," Van Dunem said as she emerged from a closed hearing of the first parliamentary committee on the escape in February of three inmates from Caxias prison. "There may be difficulties in coordination, but they will be dealt with in the appropriate place."
According to the minister, the problem is one of "perfecting channels" of communication between institutions.
On the fact that she had asked for the hearing to be closed, Van Dunem said that this was because she had given explanations relating to prison security and wanted to “avoid generating any sense of uneasiness".
For his part, Social Democratic Party deputy Fernando Negrão, himself a former minister of justice, said that there is a “problem of coordination” between the prison services, police and courts where cases of prisoners escaping are concerned.
Negrão said it had not been necessary to have a closed hearing, and that Van Dunem “did not give specific data on the escape, given that the prison services' process of investigation and the criminal investigation are not yet complete."
Van Dunem had, he reported, said that the coordination "is very deficient" and that she had even already had a conversation with the attorney general to speed up the issuing by the courts of warrants for escaped prisoners.