Brussels, 23/10/2014 (Agence Europe) – On Wednesday 22 October, MEPs meeting in Strasbourg called on the Italian presidency and member states to provide greater clarification about the vast operation launched on 13 October last in member states and which is expected to continue until 25 October. This operation is targeting irregular migrants in the EU and is officially aimed at helping the European police more effectively tackle those trafficking illegal immigrants.

The Mos Maiorum operation was launched in the second part of this year by the Italian presidency and was the subject of a debate in which many MEPs expressed their fears that migrants would be the only victims of this operation and would be pursued as part of the investigation into criminal networks. Some MEPs described this operation as a “roundup”. Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL Italy) MEP said that she had proof that the police were using force against illegal immigrants.

MEPs were perplexed by the low level of information provided to Parliament, particularly with regard to what happens to the migrants who are intercepted and respect or non-respect of their fundamental rights. They also wanted to know whether the Frontex agency was involved in the operation and in what way.

A lot of MEPs used this occasion to ask MEPs to develop legal ways of getting into the EU. Laura Ferrara (Movimento 5 Stelle) explained that with the Dublin Regulation, “it is impossible to get into the EU legally” and that these migrants had no other choice but to go through traffickers.

The Italian presidency was represented by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Benedetto Della Vedova. He informed MEPs that this operation sought to gather information about those involved in trafficking immigrants and that it was appropriately resourced and would therefore not encroach on rights, particularly those involving asylum, of the people affected. He also explained that the personal data of the migrants questioned would not be used in forms for this task and would simply focus on data relating to age and gender, “this data will not be linked to the identity of the person” in question. If the personal data is recorded, it will be done so with the precautions stipulated by the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), explained Della Vedova. The latter explained that if this operation has a positive impact it would be used precisely to, “help vulnerable people”.

Several EU presidencies in the past launched similar police operations, particularly the Greek presidency with the Aerodromos operation, which, as its name suggests, was carried out in European airports in several countries and was coordinated by Europol. (SP)

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