SEF to Be Dismantled; Government and Parliament Can’t Agree on Who Will Give It the Ax

SEF, Portugal's immigration agency, is being disbanded after the horrific death of Ihor Homeniuk at the hands of SEF inspectors in Lisbon airport last year. The "how," however, is now the big question...

Parliament has enough votes to abolish Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), its current immigration and border control agency, and replace it with the reformed structure Serviço de Estrangeiros e Asilo (SEA), Público reports. 

 The majority party Partido Socialista (PS – Socialist Party) knows that they have the support of the Bloco de Esquerda (BE – Leftist Block) which guarantees them the votes to dismantle SEF and separate the agency’s administrative services from its police force.  

However, there is an ongoing debate on whether this matter can be resolved by decree of law or if it should be taken before parliament. Minister of Internal Affairs Eduardo Cabrita has maintained that this is not a parliamentary matter and has refused requests from parliament members to discuss the restructuring of the agency.

This has raised the question of constitutionality, with party representatives arguing that going forward with a decree would render the dissolving of the agency unconstitutional. 

While BE supports the initiative to break up SEF, they have voiced reservations with the existing decree that was approved by the Council of Ministers. Beatriz Gomes Dias, BE parliamentary member, says, “There is a parliamentary majority to approve the extinction of SEF, but we want our amendments to be accepted,” according to Público.

Other left wing parties have also voiced concerns, with the PCP (Communist Party) affirming it will request a parliamentary appreciation if the government decides to go forward with the decree of law approach. And PEV (Green Party) says if the matter is brought to an eventual vote, their position will depend on the proposal presented. Still, they do stress that “it is not enough to transfer duties to another structure if there is no reinforcement of technical, human and material resources.”

Related: SEF Director Resigns Amid Scrutiny Over the Death of Ukrainian Citizen at Lisbon Airport

Related: SEF Inspectors in Ihor Homeniuk Case Get 7 to 9 Yrs in Prison

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