“Lack of ability to respond in time” sees Portugal ‘lose track’ of 500 asylum seekers

In just two years, Portugal has ‘lost track’ of 489 ‘asylum seekers’.

The various men and women have come from numerous different countries.

They were flagged entering Portugal without the requisite papers, and taken into the CIT (temporary installation centre) at Lisbon airport by SEF (Portugal’s borders agency).

There then followed a 60-day period, in which their requests for asylum should have been processed.

Thanks to the snail’s pace at which the courts work, hundreds of applications simply ‘fell through the net’.

Explain reports today, SEF ended up duty-bound to release the immigrants from CIT, and authorities now have no idea where they are.

Right now, the CIT has 19 men and women waiting out their 60-day asylum request period.

“If this deadline expires without any decisions having been made then these refugees could also be liberated”, writes tabloid Correio da Manhã, adding that when this happens “the State loses all track of these immigrants”.

Taking the situation by years, CM suggests there has been an increase in requests for political or humanitarian asylum – adding to the pressure on the country’s already creaking justice system.

In 2017, when 398 people presented applications, the courts were only able to pronounce on 208 of them. That left 190 cases ‘without any kind of response’.

Last year, asylum bids increased to 504, of which the courts managed to give positive answers to less than half (205).

The remaining 299 men and women “disappeared from the control of the Portuguese State”, says CM.

Sources at SEF are cited as having said the agency simply doesn’t have the operational capacity to monitor all immigrants that are released from CIT due to the lack of timely response by the courts.

Said one of the sources: “The State only discovers the whereabouts of these people if they go on to request residency”.

CM adds that the court tasked with hearing asylum cases “has just one judge” who has to analyse so many requests that this in itself holds all the proceedings up.

Clarifying the news this morning, Antena 1 radio station said the majority of the nationalities involved are “African and Asians”.

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