Image: Europa Press News

Border controls reinstated ahead of World Youth Day

Checks to be carried out “selectively … based on information”

Passport checks at Portugal’s air, sea and land borders in the context of World Youth Day/ the visit to this country of Pope Francis, came into force at 00:00 hours today and will be carried out “selectively and targeted based on information and risk analysis”, writes Lusa.

According to a government resolution, the reinstatement of documentary border controls will remain active until 00:00 on August 7 (World Youth Day ends on August 6) and is “exceptional in order to safeguard possible threats to public order and internal security”.

Border controls will be conducted by Immigration and Borders Service SEF, with the assistance of the Public Security Police (PSP) and the National Republican Guard (GNR), in addition to the possible collaboration of authorities from other countries.

In a response sent to Lusa, SEF will use the ‘SEFMobile’ system in border control, in addition to existing equipment, which allows “border controls and inspection actions to be carried out in a mobile, efficient, fast and safe way” having also distributed these devices to GNR officers who, in collaboration with SEF, will be at land borders.

There are 21 authorised crossing points between Spain and Portugal.

SEF will operate from the five Police and Customs Cooperation Centres (CCPAs) with the collaboration of Spanish authorities, which will reinforce its officers within the CCPA to collaborate in the operation.

In addition to the continuous presence in CCPAs, SEF will have mobile teams that, in conjunction with the GNR, guarantee passport/ document checks whenever necessary.

SEF has already reinforced its staff at the CCPAs of Tui, Vilar Formoso, Caia and Castro Marim. These will be the points with the greatest flow of pilgrims taking part in this largest event on the Roman Catholic calendar

Regarding air borders, SEF has 325 inspectors at the five international airports, complemented by PSP staff trained for this purpose.

SEF states that at airports, “special focus will be given to carrying out selective controls based on prior risk analysis for Schengen flights and for children under 18 when unaccompanied by those exercising parental responsibilities”, in addition to carrying out “a prior analysis of passenger information and establishing close cooperation and exchange of information between agencies“.

The government resolution stipulates that controls “must respect the principle of proportionality”, being limited “to the minimum strictly necessary to respond to possible threats to public order and internal security” in order to mitigate the impact on the movement of people.

“Considering the size, characteristics, complexity of the event, its media visibility, the huge influx of people expected and the current threat context, there is a clear need to guarantee internal security through appropriate measures, including the prevention of entry into the national territory of citizens or groups whose behaviour may be likely to compromise security”, the resolution explains.

The free movement of persons and goods in the Schengen area provides that internal border controls may “be reintroduced, exceptionally and for a limited period of time” if that State considers that there may be a threat to public order or internal security of the country.

This border procedure was also adopted in the context of Pope Francis’ previous visit to Portugal in 2017.