The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) identified, this week, six victims of the crime of trafficking in human beings in the Algarve, having verified that 24 foreign citizens, of Hindustani origin, were staying in the same house, after the individuals had alerted them to the vulnerable situation of a group of five citizens who shared a room there.
In a note sent this Saturday to the media, the SEF refers that it carried out an inspection in the western Algarve area that sought to confirm the address of some foreign citizens.
The five vulnerable citizens had been in Portugal for four months, holding work visas.
After the inspectors had confirmed “the signs of being victims of human trafficking, the immigrants were sent to Faro, where technicians from the Association for Family Planning (APF), belonging to a Specialized Multidisciplinary Team, interviewed them and signaled them how victims, having been guaranteed help and protection”, says the note.
The SEF also points out that additional steps were taken that led to the location, on Friday, “of a sixth citizen in the same conditions, who was also flagged as a victim and provided with the necessary humanitarian assistance”.
The investigation revealed that “the six citizens were enticed in the country of origin with the promise of work in Portugal in agriculture, with the right to accommodation and subsequent legalization, by paying, for each immigrant, 13 thousand euros to an illegal immigration network ”, with citizens resorting to credits and help from family members to gather the necessary money.
After arriving in Portugal, the individuals were taken to the Algarve and were accommodated in the room of the identified house, “being required to pay an additional payment, each of them, of 140 euros per month for a mattress”.
The employment relationship that had been promised ended up not taking effect and citizens were “enticed to buy employment contracts and pay their own contributions, and that of the employer, to Social Security in order to be able to meet the formal conditions for legalization in Portugal”. Without the means to satisfy what was required of them, the victims “were abandoned to their fate, living off the charity of the other tenants of the house”.
The SEF underlines that citizens were questioned as witnesses and all information was reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, an inquiry having been opened for the crime of human trafficking.
The SEF Liaison Officer at the Portuguese Embassy in New Delhi was contacted in order to gather additional information about the case and the SEF does not overlook the possibility that other citizens find themselves in the same situation, and is currently making efforts to possible location.