In a note sent to Lusa, the union that represents inspectors from the extinct Foreigners and Borders Service and who currently work in the PJ argues that Judiciary Police professionals who investigate and combat human trafficking and illegal immigration should have direct access to the databases they worked with in their former service.

Only in this way, according to the union, will the PJ be able to “be more effective in combating networks of traffickers and exploiters and freeing and protecting the victims of their criminal activity”.

With the end of the SEF, in October last year, the databases began to be managed by the Agency for Integration, Migrations and Asylum (AIMA), with regard to documentation for obtaining a residence permit and everything that serves as support for issuing documents to immigrants, and by the Borders and Foreigners Coordination Unit, which operates under the authority of the secretary general of the Internal Security System and has the police and border control databases.

“Part of the effectiveness of the investigation at SEF resulted from having, under the same entity, all the information relating to the journey of foreign citizens in Portugal: entry, accommodation, stay, work relationships, requests made, the documentation presented, the documents issued and the departure from national territory”, the president of SPIC-PJ, Rui Paiva, told Lusa.

According to the union, effectiveness also resulted from the possibility that inspectors had to analyze and combine all available information, detecting patterns of abnormalities that, in many cases, led to the conclusion that certain foreign citizens were being exploited by criminal organisations.

Direct access

“What happened with the transition of former SEF inspectors to the Judiciary Police is that one of the most important tools they had was taken away from them: direct access to all the information that belonged to the SEF”, said Rui Paiva.

The union leader maintained that “without access to this information and the respective documentation, it is now impossible to ensure in the Judiciary Police the levels of excellence that made Portugal famous, both in the investigation of organized and transnational crime associated with human trafficking and in the protection of victims” .

SPIC-PJ also contests “those in the Government who advocate that PJ inspectors simply ask AIMA or the Internal Security System for the information or documentation they need, entities that now operate the former SEF databases, which are being updated with new data every day”.

“Anyone realizes that it is very different to have direct access to databases, and be able to search them freely, or to send a formal 'email' to AIMA or SSI, with a request, wait several days and then receive little accurate information from someone who collected it without really knowing what he was looking for”, said Rui Paiva.

For the union president, this situation “does not serve the national interests of the European Union” and “much fewer immigrants”, benefiting “the mafia networks that exploit foreigners in Portugal”.