The union representing the SEF inspectors warned on Thursday of a “lack of control” of trafficking in human beings in Portugal due to the lack of means to prevent and combat this crime, which is increasing in the country.

“The SEF inspectors want to alert the Portuguese society, the deputies and especially the Government to the need to improve action and prevent this scourge in Portugal,” the union who are planning holding a conference on trafficking of human beings, told Lusa.

The Trade Union of the Career of Investigation and Inspection of the Aliens and Borders Service (SCIF / SEF) will hold the conference “Trafficking in human beings – the SEF and the fight against human trafficking” on April 27 in Lisbon.

Acácio Pereira said that the choice of this topic for the conference is related to “the frightening rise in recent years of trafficking in human beings in Europe, including in Portugal.”

According to the trade unionist, trafficking in human beings is “modern slavery” and constitutes a crime that “has to be fought better”.

“The inspectors of SEF feel the impotence of those who do not have the means, neither to prevent, nor to fight and to persecute most of the crimes,” he maintained, reporting data from 2017, which show that in Portugal there are tens of thousands of foreigners abused on farms. He added that the country had begun to be used as a new route of trafficking of African children.

Acácio Pereira said that these children and adolescents are used for exploitation and slavery in countries such as France or Germany, functioning Portugal as a gateway to the Schengen area.

“In most cases, African children arrive with false documents, but accompanied by adults with legal documentation, almost always from Portuguese-speaking countries,” he said. He explained that SEF inspectors “have been able to arrest traffickers and rescue some children”, but the perception is that we must “increase the resources so that most of this traffic does not continue”.

According to the SCIF / SEF, labour exploitation in agricultural areas, especially in the Alentejo, “is out of control due to lack of capacity of the SEF to control the overwhelming majority of farms where illegal workers are abused.”

“With the progressive realization of irrigation projects in the Alentejo, especially in the Alqueva and Alentejo coastal areas, there are seasonal work spikes in different cultures, which means that, throughout the year, there are always coming and going