“The tragic event [homicide of a Ukrainian citizen at Lisbon airport] has nothing to do with this reform,” said Eduardo Cabrita in the parliamentary committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees.
At the hearing, the restructuring of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) was highlighted by all political parties, with Social Democrat deputy André Coelho Lima questioning why this reform is being carried out now.
The death of the Ukrainian at the SEF facilities at the airport in Lisbon, in March last year, was described by André Coelho Lima as “the darkest case of this Government and of many years of Portuguese democracy”.
"It must be improved and not dismantled to save your head," said Telmo Correia.
"The answer cannot be that which PSDdefended, which is to do nothing," he said.
Eduardo Cabrita reaffirmed that the restructuring of SEF fulfils what was foreseen in the Government's programme and goes through “a very clear organic separation between the police functions and the functions of those authorising the documentation of immigrants”.
“As for the police area, the role of the GNR consolidates, within the scope of Frontex and joins with Spain in the control of maritime borders and now also the management of land borders, broadens the role of PSP which has responsibility for airport security and reinforces the Judiciary Police in network and transnational crimes, such as aid to illegal immigration and human trafficking, ”he said.
The minister stated that these matters have already been dealt with in the Superior Council for Internal Security and the general lines have already been transmitted to the SEF workers' unions.
Valuing “the professional quality of SEF”, he stressed that the Foreigners and Borders Service participated in the temporary restoration of land border control with Spain, which had not been done for 35 years, was linked to the extraordinary legalisation of immigrants in the context of the pandemic and set up a regularisation model for automatic renewal of foreigners, which has been in operation since June.
Regarding the death of the Ukrainian citizen, Eduardo Cabrita stated that the home office’s response was “given in March and not in December”, with the truth still to be determined in the context of the trial.
The trial of the three SEF inspectors accused of killing Ukrainian citizen Ihor Homeniuk is taking place in Lisbon, with the defendants being under house arrest since their arrest on 30 March, 2020.
The three SEF inspectors are accused of having beaten the Ukrainian citizen to death, in a situation that constitutes qualified homicide, a crime punishable by up to 25 years in prison.