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Guarda Nacional Republicana / National Republican Guard

The National Republican Guard is an armed, uniformed security force made up of soldiers, whose functional objectives are to ensure public order, security and peace, respecting the democratic rule of law and the rights of citizens (see Articles 1 and 2 of the Implementing Act approved under Legislative Decree no. 231/93 of 26 June 1993, replacing the previous Implementing Act approved under Legislative Decree no. 333/83 of 14 July 1983).

The Guarda Nacional Republicana, whose origins date back to 1801, at which time the Guarda Real de Policia (Royal Police Guard) was created, is a Security Force constituted by military elements that are organized in a Special Body of Troops, which actively and permanently veil for the execution of the law and are dedicated to the security and public order maintenance cause as well as to the protection and defence of the people and their goods. The Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, the National Defence and Armed Forces Law, the Internal Security Law and the Law on the General Basis of the Military Condition constitute the institutional juridical framework on which the legislation of the present Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR) is based.

The Guarda Nacional Republicana is heir to the traditions of the Quadrilheiros (elements armed with rods or spears), of the Guarda Real da Policia (Royal Police Guard) and of the Guarda Republicana (Republican Guard). The GNR was formed in 1913 as a heavily armed paramilitary constabulary organized up to battalion strength. It was intended as a check against the military and was first employed to confront monarchist-inspired revolts within the ranks of the armed forces. Although its essential mission was one of maintaining order in the countryside, the GNR's activities were subsequently extended to those of helping the urban police to control demonstrations and quell labor unrest.

In 1990 the GNR numbered approximately 19,000 officers and men. It was equipped with Commando armored cars and twelve Alouette II helicopters transferred from the German army. The guard was organized into battalions stationed in the major cities and companies and sections in district capitals and smaller communities. Highway patrols were conducted by a separate Traffic Brigade and by rural units of the GNR. Reserve and career officers from all branches of the armed forces could be seconded to tours of duty in the GNR on a voluntary basis. Reservists who were university graduates could apply to continue as GNR officers upon completion of their military obligations.

Its fundamental standards are based on its own particular Organic Law (Law number 63 dated 06 November 2007) and on the Statutes of the Military Elements (Officers, Sergeants and Guards) of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (Decree-Law 265 dated 31 July 1993) which are currently being revised and of the General Service Regulation of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (Decree number 7221 of 1985).

It has a double dependency, depending in time of peace, on the Minister of Internal Administration, for purposes of recruitment, administration, discipline and execution of the current service of its general mission and on the Minister of National Defence for purposes of uniformization and normalization of the military doctrine, armament and equipment. Its force may, in case of war or in situations of crisis, be placed under the operational dependency of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, through its General Commander.

The National Republican Guard has a single organisation for the whole national territory, and its operational machinery comprises:

  • 1 General Headquarters (Lisbon);
  • 2 Regiments;
  • 2 Special Brigades (Financial and Road Traffic);
  • 4 Territorial Brigades;
  • 20 Companies;
  • 70 Sections;
  • 496 local stations ("postos").

Given the military organisation and structure of the National Republican Guard, its officers have since 1991 been trained by the Military Academy, which at that time introduced a special university-level course for the purpose. In the curricula for the course socio-political and legal sciences play a major role, since students must earn a minimum number of credits in these subjects (see Legislative Decree no. 173/91 of 11 May 1991, regulated under Directive no. 416-A/91 of 17 May 1991).

The National Republican Guard also has a further training establishment - the Practical School of the National Guard - specialising in the moral, cultural, physical, military and technico-vocational training of officers from, the lower ranks, as well as running refresher, specialist a d proficiency courses. In short, to conclude on this point, human rights and fundamental rights, freedoms and safeguards have been matters of priority concern to the Minister, the police headquarters and those responsible for the training institutes for officers of the Public Security Police and the National Republican Guard.

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