This position was conveyed by António Costa in the part of answers to questions from deputies in the debate on the Government Program, after an intervention by the leader of Chega Pedro Pinto.
Pedro Pinto said that the projected extinction of SEF by the current government is “a serious mistake”, being “another goat” from the socialist governments – an allusion to the former Minister of Internal Administration Eduardo Cabrita.
The deputy from Chega said that so far the socialist government has been “limited by the Left Bloc, which does not like police”, but from now on it can adopt measures that prevent “SEF from being transformed into an asylum agency”.
In his response, however, the prime minister defended the project to extinguish the SEF, “which was not an imposition of the Bloco de Esquerda and was not even an inspired idea by former minister Eduardo Cabrita”, a measure that has already been included in the PS electoral program in 2019.
“This measure remains in the current government program and, therefore, it is really necessary to comply with it”, he stressed.
António Costa later said that, with the extinction of the SEF, “the transfer of police powers from the SEF to the other security forces and services will be carried out”, with border control being the responsibility of the PSP and GNR.
“Borders are not going to stop being policed, but they are being policed by two security forces that have strength to carry out these functions”, he argued.
With regard to the criminal investigation powers of SEF, these, according to the leader of the executive, “will be consolidated in the PJ, which is the highest criminal police body specialised in the investigation of a more complex nature”, such as transnational and organised crime.
“In other words, the internal security system is strengthened with the attribution to the security forces and the PJ of the powers that were entrusted to SEF in terms of border control and criminal investigation”, he maintained.
Asylum and immigration
Regarding the remaining powers of SEF, António Costa reiterated the thesis that they will be “internalised in the Portuguese Agency for Asylum and Immigration”.
“We will take advantage of the knowledge, competence and experience accumulated over the years by SEF officials in areas where they have a different knowledge compared to other security forces and other criminal investigation polices. They can be an asset to our public administration,” he added.