While the implementation of certain special procedural guarantees will necessarily require a decision from SEF, the responsibility for implementing these measures lies with the Institute of Social Security (ISS).
Adequate support during the interview
Applicants identified as needing special procedural guarantees can benefit from the postponement of refugee status determination interviews, extended deadlines for presenting evidence or carrying out interviews with the assistance of experts.
As mentioned in Identification, there is no specific unit in place with specially trained staff that can provide special procedural guarantees such as special interview techniques or tailored support during personal interviews. In practice, with the exception of asylum applicants whose reduced ability to benefit from the rights and comply with the obligations stemming from the Asylum Act are self-evident (e.g. due to serious illness, pregnancy), such guarantees are not implemented.
Recent case law regarding the provision of special procedural guarantees in the asylum procedure has consolidated the approach of not implementing such guarantees. In one isolated case in 2018, SEF invited CPR to attend a first instance interview in order to provide support to a particularly vulnerable applicant suffering from a mental condition. In one instance in 2019, SEF suspended the asylum procedure of an applicant suffering from a serious mental health condition before issuing a decision on admissibility/accelerated procedure. However, the decision to suspend the procedure was adopted only after the personal interview was conducted and was not framed as a special guarantee for the applicant.
In the particular case of survivors of torture and/or serious violence, research conducted in the framework of the project “Time for Needs: Listening, Healing, Protecting” found that the practical implementation of special procedural guarantees such as the possibility to postpone the refugee status determination interview is hampered by the lack of a specific identification tool or mechanism. Even where a medical report concerning the vulnerability of the applicant for mental health reasons is presented, SEF may refuse to postpone the interview unless the medical report clearly states the reduced capacity of the applicant, the need for medical assistance, as well as a prediction of when the applicant is expected to be able attend the interview, if need be accompanied by a mental health professional, in order to avoid excessive delays in the procedure. CPR is not aware of additional research on this topic.
In accordance with the law, CPR provides specific legal assistance to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children inter alia through the presence of a legal officer during the personal interview with the SEF (see Legal Representation of Unaccompanied Children).
Exemption from special procedures
According to the Asylum Act, applicants victims of torture and/or serious violence in need of special procedural guarantees shall be exempted from the border procedure and from detention in the context of border procedures when the necessary support and conditions cannot be ensured within that context. However, no standard operational procedures and tools allowing for the early and effective identification of survivors of torture and/or serious violence and their special procedural needs are in place. As such, asylum seekers who claim to be survivors of torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence are not exempted from border procedures in practice, despite the lack of provision of special procedural guarantees at the border. 
Until 2016, certain categories of vulnerable asylum applicants such as unaccompanied children, pregnant women and seriously ill persons were systematically released from detention at the border and channelled to an admissibility procedure and/or regular or accelerated procedure in national territory. However, pregnant women, families with children, severely ill persons and victims of torture and/or serious violence were not always exempted from border procedures in practice, since then, including in 2019. Although new guidance from the Ministry of Interior was issued in July 2018 regarding the duration of detention of certain categories of vulnerable asylum seekers, with the exception of unaccompanied children, this had not resulted in significant changes with regard to exemption from border procedures as the latter are still regularly applied to vulnerable applicants (see Detention of Vulnerable Applicants).
Similarly to the border procedure, the exemption of vulnerable applicants from the accelerated procedure was not ensured in practice. As regards unaccompanied children, the law provides for their exemption from accelerated procedures, with the exception of subsequent applications that have not been deemed inadmissible, as well as certain grounds for inadmissibility, such as Dublin, first country of asylum and third safe country grounds.
According to information available to CPR, SEF resorted to accelerated procedures only once regarding an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child in 2018 and that decision was later overturned at appeal stage for being in breach of the Asylum Act and the recast Asylum Procedures Directive. Statistical data from SEF for 2019 indicates that accelerated procedures were not used in such cases. However, according to the information available to CPR, accelerated procedures were indeed applied by SEF to unaccompanied children in 2019 in four cases. When CPR requested clarification on this practice, SEF informed that all procedural guarantees for unaccompanied children were provided in such procedures. This understanding is clearly at odds with the applicable legal provisions as well as with the national jurisprudence. In the beginning of 2020, TAC Lisbon confirmed this assessment by overturning another decision and reaffirming the reasoning adopted in 2018.
 Article 17-A(5) Asylum Act.
 Article 17-A(3) Asylum Act.
 TAC Lisbon, Decision 1502/18.8BELSB, 24 October 2018, unpublished. The case relates to an asylum seeker suffering from documented epilepsies and depression who was not identified as a vulnerable person prior to his interview and was therefore not provided special procedural guaranties by SEF during the first instance procedure. The applicant was unable to review the report of his interview due to his condition and later managed to submit to SEF medical reports of his condition and mental care with the support of CPR prior to the issuance of a first instance refusal decision. According to TAC Lisbon, such issues were not material to the asylum application and were not relevant to assess the need for special procedural guarantees in accordance to the law “as the serious condition of the appellant was not due to him being a victim of torture, rape or other form of psychological, physical of sexual violence in his country of origin…”.
 Notwithstanding, following a suggestion from CPR on the need to equate a structured approach to the provision of special procedural guarantees in general, and the provision of adequate special procedural guarantees in the particular case, such as a medical evaluation/report and the presence of support staff from the institution that was providing medical and social support to the applicant at the time, SEF decided to conduct the interview in the absence of any support.
 Article 79(3) Asylum Act.
 Article 17-A(4) Asylum Act.
 Nevertheless, according to SEF, a total of 14 asylum applications lodged by unaccompanied minors were processed under a border procedure, in 2019.
 Article 79(9) Asylum Act.
 TAC Lisbon, Decision 869/18.2BELSB, 24 June 2018, unpublished.
 TAC Lisbon, Decision 2154/19.3BELSB, 17 January 2020, unpublished.