The bill extending the six-month deadline for the entry into force of the 12 November law on restructuring the Portuguese border control system was approved with votes in favour from PS, PAN, Chega, Iniciativa Liberal and MPs not registered Joacine Katar Moreira and Cristina Rodrigues.
The law of 12 November establishes the extinction of the SEF on 11 January 2022 and determines that the current administrative duties of the SEF in relation to foreign citizens are now exercised by the Portuguese Agency for Migration and Asylum (APMA), which Government will have to create by decree-law, and by the Institute of Registry and Notary (IRN), in addition to having to transfer the police powers to the PSP, GNR and Judiciary Police.
The Socialist Party's bill postpones the extinction of this security service for another six months, justifying the evolution of the epidemiological situation of Covid-19 in recent weeks in Portugal, which foresees “the need to strengthen border control, namely with regard to the verification of compliance with the rules relating to testing”.
“The law of November 12, which restructures the Portuguese border control system, enters into force on 11 January, 2022. Therefore, it is considered necessary to extend the deadline for entry into force of the said law and the consequent regulation, ensuring that there are no institutional changes to border control in the current pandemic context”, says the bill.
According to the law, the APMA will have the “mission of implementing public policies on migration and asylum, namely the regularisation of the entry and permanence of foreign citizens in national territory, issuing opinions on applications for visas, asylum and installation of refugees, as well as participating in the execution of the Portuguese State's international cooperation policy in the field of migration and asylum”.
The law of 12 November also establishes that until the entry into force of the diploma creating the APMA, “the rules governing SEF's computer and communications systems are maintained in force, including those relating to the national part of the Schengen Information System and others that exist within the scope of the control of the movement of people, with their management being ensured by a unit of Security Information Technologies”.
The transfer of competences to IRN, which will also be responsible for foreign citizens holding a residence permit in Portugal and issuing passports, will be defined in a specific diploma to be approved by the Government.
Within the scope of the transfer of police powers, the GNR will be responsible for "overseeing, inspecting and controlling the maritime and land borders", "acting in the context of coercive removal proceedings and the judicial expulsion of foreign citizens, in the areas of its jurisdiction" and “ensuring the carrying out of mobile controls and joint operations with national security forces and their Spanish counterparts”.
In turn, the PSP will integrate the competences of “overseeing, inspecting and controlling airport borders and cruise terminals” and “acting within the scope of coercive removal processes and judicial expulsion of foreign citizens, in the areas of its jurisdiction”.
The PJ has reserved powers in the investigation of crimes of aid to illegal immigration, association of aid to illegal immigration, human trafficking and others related to these crimes.