Constitutional Provisions

Article 21 of the 1975 Constitution of Sao Tomé and Principe (as amended) governs the right to life, stating in paragraph 1 that: "Human life is inviolable." Article 22 addresses the right to personal integrity:

1. The moral and physical integrity of the people is inviolable.

2. No one may be submitted to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 33 of the Constitution governs the right of peaceful assembly:

1. All citizens have the right to meet, peacefully and without arms, even in places open to the public.

2. The right to demonstrate is recognized for all citizens, within the terms of the law.

The Constitution does not address the police or other law enforcement agency.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) State Party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 State Party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties
1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Signatory

Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights State Party
1998 Protocol to the African Charter on the African Court Signatory
Article 34(6) declaration regarding individual petitions N/A
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties at Regional Level
Malabo Protocol on the African Court of Justice and Human Rights Not party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Law enforcement in Sao Tomé and Principe is primarily the responsibility of the Public Security Police (Polícia de Segurança Pública), although the armed forces sometimes conduct law enforcement tasks. 

Article 32 of the 2017 Internal Security Law governs the use of force:

1. Security Forces and Services may only use force in the following cases:

(a) to repel an ongoing and unlawful assault on legally protected interests, in self-defence or the defence of others;

(b) To overcome resistance to the execution of a police officer in the exercise of his duties, after exhausted other means to achieve this.

2. The use of firearms and explosives shall be governed by a specific Diploma for employees and agents of the Security Forces.

There do not appear to be specific legal provisions governing the extent of the use of force or firearms in law enforcement. 

Police Oversight

Sao Tomé and Principe has no independent civilian police oversight body.



Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies

Sao Tomé and Principe has not yet appeared before either the Human Rights Committee or the Committee against Torture. 

The country's most recent Universal Periodic Review under the UN Human Rights Council did not address police use of force.


Sao Tomé and Principe has not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, allowing the African Court to hear cases alleging a violation of the Charter by the state.


1975 Constitution of Sao Tomé and Principe (as amended) (English translation)

Sao Tome and Principe Penal Code (2012)

2017 Internal Security Law (Portuguese original)

Decreto-lei n.º 6/2014