Jail terms for employers of illegal immigrants

in News · 19-05-2007 00:00:00 · 0 Comments

Under new European Commission proposals announced last week, companies or individuals in Portugal employing illegal immigrants could face statutory prison sentences.

The proposals, which were first mooted by the Commission last year, will require EU member states to introduce laws providing fines, administrative sanctions and prison sentences in cases where illegal immigrants are being employed. Companies found to be consistently breaking the proposed law will be shut down by the authorities without being allowed any recourse to the EU court of appeal.
Although in keeping with all other member states, with the exception of Cyprus, Portugal has sanctions against the employment of illegal workers, they are rarely enforced. However, any EU member state failing to implement the recommended sanctions will face hefty fines, the European Commission said in a statement.
European Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini told journalists in Brussels that while 14 EU member states, including Portugal, have prison sentences already in place to counter employers using illegal immigrant labour, to date there is not one single case of anybody who has been found guilty of contravening the law serving a jail term.
“What’s more, the implementation of penalties is very different among member states, with some more lax than others, distorting competition among companies,” Frattini said.
The draft laws will also allow immigrants to lodge complaints against their employers and demand unpaid wages. If they cooperate with the police and return home, they could also receive temporary permits enabling them time in which to take legal action against their employers for exploitation and being paid below the minimum rate.
“It’s a law against illegal immigration, but the philosophy is to target employers, not the immigrants. We want to fight the exploitation of illegal immigrants,” Frattini added.
Up to eight million people are estimated to be living illegally in the 27-nation EU, with 500,000 illegal immigrants arriving every year. The draft law, which will only concern workers from outside the EU, will require the backing of a qualified majority of member states and the European Parliament before entering into law.


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