"We have organised this conference to demonstrate which side is right. The various speakers will set out their ideas and their points of view on this issue. We are sure that we are right and any change to the current system of internal security can only be made in Parliament," the president of the Investigation and Inspection Service of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SCIF-SEF) told Lusa news agency.
The conference, which takes place in Lisbon, has as its theme "The importance of SEF in the Internal Security System" and will be attended by former Secretaries of State for Internal Administration Dalila Araújo (PS) and Nuno Magalhães (CDS), deputies André Coelho Lima (PSD) and António Filipe (PCP), Rui Pereira, former Minister of Internal Administration, Júlio Pereira, former Secretary-General of the Portuguese Republic Information System, and Gil Arias, former Executive Director of the European border agency Frontex.
SCIF holds an annual conference and this year is dedicated to the restructuring of the Foreigners and Borders Service, which has already been announced by the Government and set out in a resolution by the Council of Ministers.
The union considers that this is a wrong decision by the Minister of Internal Administration, who is usually invited to this congress every year, but that this did not happen this year.
"The dismantling of the SEF is bad for the country, for migrants and for the very security of the Portuguese and other European peoples", said Acácio Pereira, insisting that "any change to the internal security system can only be made in the Assembly of the Republic, the only competent body in this matter".
The President of the trade union stressed that this is "a very sensitive and important area, which cannot be politicised", and that any change should gather "the greatest consensus possible", but "this is not happening".
Acácio Pereira stressed that the Government wants to "destroy the SEF" to "try and hide the incompetence of the Minister for Internal Administration in a fundamental matter", as Eduardo Cabrita has not "exercised his political competencies in due time".
The union president argues that there should be an internal restructuring of the SEF.
"We cannot ignore the fact that the SEF is currently experiencing difficulties at various levels. We need to see an improvement, but this improvement will require internal restructuring and never a distribution of competencies among various entities," he said, stressing that "problems will not be solved by moving people from one place to another".
The resolution, which defines the political guidelines for the creation of the Foreigners and Asylum Service, which will succeed the SEF, establishes "the mainstays of a very clear organic separation between police functions and the administrative functions of authorising and documenting immigrants".
The resolution determines which attributions of a police nature of the SEF will be transferred to the National Republican Guard, the Public Security Police and the Judiciary Police, as well as the competences that will be transferred to the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs, leaving the Foreigners and Asylum Service with "attributions of a technical-administrative nature".