The Ministry of Home Affairs is preparing what has been termed an “ambitious” project to beef up security at Portugal’s airports. According to reports this week, the Ministry is aiming to raise all international airports to security levels never seen here before.
Among the unprecedented measures made public this week, all areas involving security checks and passenger controls will become completely enclosed as a means of thwarting or minimising terror acts.
The move comes after a series of high-profile incidents during the past six months at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport where transit passengers from North Africa managed to intentionally elude airport security in a bid to gain entry into the European Union.
While the plan was initially aimed at averting further airport “escapes”, it has since developed into an all-encompassing project to upgrade airport security.
Other measures in the pipeline include double-sided barbed-wire fencing along airport perimeters, a totally new transit area to contain passengers departing and arriving from so-called ‘risk destinations’, coupled with stricter control of airport workers.
“Given the current international situation, we cannot have any other level of security at airports if not the maximum, especially if we are aiming to avoid any illegal or illicit actions”, a governmental source was quoted as telling Diário de Notícias (DN).
This is the first stage of a critical infrastructure evaluation plan which was recently called for by the EU.
Law enforcement authorities involved in assisting the Home Ministry to draw up the revision of security at the nation’s airports this week admitted to DN that Minister Constança Urbano de Sousa’s final proposal is “ambitious, but well structured”.
The plan is currently doing the rounds at other ministries involved with the smooth running of affairs at airports.
The document, ‘Security Measures for National Airports’, also enjoyed the input of PJ Police, SEF Immigration Office and the National Security Service.
The Minister of Home Affairs further said that “while there is no concrete evidence or information of plans to attack national airports, we should always bear this threat in mind.”
Constança Urbano de Sousa did however admit that no airport is impenetrable, adding that Humberto Delgado’s location in the centre of Lisbon further hampers efforts to restrict illegal acts, such as attempts to enter the country without the necessary documentation.
With regards the recent accusations by a German minister that Portugal does not automatically share information with the European Union regarding finger prints and vehicle registration numbers to combat terrorism, Constança Urbano de Sousa said this was a matter for the Justice ministry.
However, she did add that the fact there was no automatic interchange, “does not mean there is no interchange of information whatsoever”.