Algarve: Boat with 22 North-African migrants intercepted at Vale do Lobo beach, SEF suspects illegal route
The SEF had, so far, ruled out the hypothesis that it was an illegal immigration network, but the investigation now, according to an internal source, points to that hypothesis. “There are payments involved, aid for illegal immigration is a profitable business,” he commented. In the image of what happens in Spain, Portugal will now have to work with the Moroccan authorities to lock down the networks, said the same source
Regarding the illegal immigrants who arrived on the first two boats, the SEF denied the majority’s request for asylum (except for a minor) because it considered them to be “economic immigrants” – five of them are now in “unknown whereabouts”.
Regarding the group that arrived in January, the SEF refused the request for three of them, but did not hear back from the other eight of them “because they are in an unknown location”. That is, a majority of the 16 young men who arrived on the first two boats have vanished from Portuguese authorities. Some of the young people who were refused asylum challenged the decision, which, according to the law, must then be analysed by an administrative court. Until that decision, the refugee council maintains its support and deportation cannot be triggered. “There is no deadline for the court to respond,” revealed Mónica Farinha, chairman of the CPR board.
Timóteo Macedo, a representative of the Immigrant Solidarity Association, defended that, even if it turns out that it is a network, “people who are victims of the networks have to be protected”.
“The networks must be fought,” he said. “If Portugal receives refugees who are on boats held hostage by traffickers, I don’t know why it should not accept that these Moroccans stay here. There is no reason why protection is not granted and people are not allowed to stay. ”
The law guarantees asylum to citizens “persecuted or seriously threatened with persecution, as a result of activity carried out in the State of their nationality or of their habitual residence in favour of democracy, social and national liberation, peace between peoples, freedom and human rights”. This right can also be granted to anyone who fears “on grounds” of being persecuted because of “their race, religion, nationality, political opinions or integration in a certain social group” and cannot or does not want to “return to the state of their nationality or usual residence”.