The CEPOL Unit of the Hellenic Police Academy organised CEPOL Seminar 01/2014 - “Markets related to illegal immigration: detecting / tackling / repatriating”. The seminar took place on 2 - 4 June 2014 and was held at the Zappeion Conference Centre, Athens.
The target group for this activity: senior police officers and experts involved in combating illegal immigration and/or related crimes, preferably front-line officers involved in investigations. The objectives of this activity were to:
- Increase knowledge of migration flows and better analyse the complexity of the activities carried out by organised criminal groups and their modus operandi,
- Increase knowledge of EU legislation, so as to enable the improvement of law enforcement,
- Examine repatriation possibilities and improve techniques related to return capacity building,
- Increase knowledge of types of international cooperation that can be provided in this specific field,
- Create a network of colleagues working on the same topic.
The seminar was led by experts from Europol, Eurojust, Frontex, IOM, Italy, Hungary and Hellas, under the guidance of the EU Policy Driver on matters related to illegal immigration.
Police Major General Vasilios Kontogiannis, Commander of the Hellenic Police Academy, opened the seminar and stressed that managing the repercussions deriving from the illegal immigration phenomenon, is not only a top priority for the southern countries of the EU (like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal) but for the EU as a whole.
The seminar included presentations, discussions and workshop exercises, including;
- An introduction on illegal immigration through the scope of EMPACT;
- A general presentation on the EU Policy Cycle;
- Introduction to the ramifications of illegal immigration in connection to trafficking in human beings and unaccompanied minors;
- Links between organised crime and illegal immigration and the work being done by Joint Investigation Teams;
- A presentation on the situation at the external borders of the EU and the cooperation between Border Guards and National Police Authorities;
- A presentation from the International Organisation of Migration, followed by the showcasing of the Fimanthu Operation.
Early indications, after reviewing the evaluation and feedback from course participants, suggest that the course was successful and objectives were fully met.
Comments from participants and experts were very positive:
”Very interesting topics… a lot of committed colleagues… The network is a fantastic way to make some problems between two countries even smaller." - Mr. Michael Hols Dettmann, Denmark.
“The excellent organisation of the seminar allowed for many opportunities to meet fellow practitioners and experts, exchange personal experiences and share best practices…” - Mrs. Lotje Van Der Made, Europol.
“…thanks to the commitment of a strong and passionate group of Greek police officers… the active contribution of the Director of the Police Academy... participants benefited from the experts' contribution in several fields, from investigation to operations, intelligence to general border management activities, and in-depth view of new EU perspectives." - Mr. Giovanni Santoro, EU Policy Driver (Illegal Immigration).
“I am neither Athenian nor a Greek citizen but rather a citizen of the world” - Socrates
If one could look at the collective mentality of the human mind throughout the ages from a distance, one could only marvel at the changes that the passage of time leaves upon our psyche. Some time ago, large groups of immigrants abandoning the security and comfort of their home countries in pursuit of an uncertain future, were considered heroes, pioneers and explorers that brought much needed renewal on their final destinations, in a physical, intellectual and spiritual sense; for it is known that stagnation is the natural bane of human evolution. Nowadays however, immigrants (illegal or not) are considered social pariahs, sufferings the “slings and arrows” of racism, intolerance, injustice, ignorance and apathy and are the easy scapegoats on which to pin many of the problems troubling society.
Illegal immigrants fall prey to the predatory appetites of criminal groups that take advantage of their illegal status and their inability to react, having no-one to turn to. The threat of being exposed to the police authorities and subsequently deported back to their countries, serves both as an incentive as well as a deterrent, which binds their fate to those of their controllers. One of the fundamental driving forces behind every great risk taken by mankind and every great achievement is the fight to ensure a better future for one’s self and family.
In these modern times of technological marvels but also of moral decay, in an era where the technocratic way of life seems to win over more traditional lifestyles, the EU finds itself in a moral and ethical dilemma: can the promise of safety, freedom and economic stability that is being offered to its citizens be denied to other, less fortunate, outsiders?
The seminar’s focus was not on the immigrants, themselves victims of their circumstances and surroundings, but at the criminal groups that prey upon them and the related markets.