Sunday, March 3, 2024

EU pushes to strengthen border and deportation laws after shooting incident in Belgium

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BRUSSELS (AP) – Abdesalem Rasoud had been denied residency in four European countries by the time he cornered two Swedish men in a Brussels building this week. shot them at close range With a semi-automatic rifle.

The 45-year-old Tunisian arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa on a stowaway boat in 2011. He served a prison sentence in Sweden and was refused entry to Norway. At one point Italy flagged him as a security threat. Two years ago, Belgium rejected his asylum request and he disappeared from the map.

on Monday night, when he killed two Swedes and wounded a third, forcing a lockdown of more than 35,000 people in a soccer stadium where they had gathered to watch a match between Belgium and Sweden. It was until I did. In a video posted online, he claimed to have drawn inspiration from Islamic State.

Within days, he became the new face of the European Union’s campaign to tighten border controls, expel people faster and allow police and security services to exchange information more efficiently.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told reporters at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday: “It is important to immediately and forcibly deport individuals who may pose a security threat to our nationals and the EU. ” he said.

Only about one in four people whose asylum claims are rejected end up leaving or being deported from the 27-nation bloc. Their countries of origin, including Tunisia, are often reluctant to take them back.

with EU countries always arguing Differences between the two sides over how to manage immigration are at the heart of the region’s biggest political crisis, with the European Commission looking to outsource the task.

The EU executive branch has supported the conclusion of the following agreements: turkey And Tunisia is seeking to persuade these countries to block its own citizens, as well as people from the Middle East and Africa, from trying to enter Europe, as many did in 2015.

About 25 countries from which people leave or transit to reach Europe are concerned. Egypt is the next country on the list. The commission is already helping the Egyptian Coast Guard find and pay for new boats.

Nicole de Moor, Belgium’s top immigration official, said countries that refuse to take back their nationals must cooperate.

“The terrorist who carried out Monday’s attacks in Brussels has applied for asylum in four European countries, but has been refused each time because he does not qualify for protection,” de Moor said.

The EU has enforcement tools at its disposal. The commission uses visas as leverage to make it more difficult and more difficult for nationals of source countries to enter Europe’s ID-free zones (a space of 27 countries commonly known as “identification cards”). consuming time and money. schengen area.

Thanks to this, the EU now has “better cooperation” on deportations with Iraq, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Senegal, Johansson said.

The case of gunman Rasoud was marked by other failings. He applied for asylum in Belgium in 2019. A year later, the application was denied and a deportation order was issued in 2021. Authorities said this week that he could not be found because he had no address.

Within hours, authorities found his residence, admittedly thanks to public assistance, prosecutors acknowledged. The next morning, he was shot dead by police who tried to arrest him at a nearby cafe.

Belgian Interior Minister Anneliese Verlinden told reporters: “It turned out that this person had been convicted of a crime and was serving a sentence in a Swedish prison, but this was not known to police or judicial authorities.” There wasn’t,” he said.

“We need to improve the exchange of information about things like this. This man apparently arrived in Italy in 2011 and wandered around Europe for 12 years,” she said. “Immigration authorities and police need to share information to prevent this from happening,” she said.

The calls for stricter laws and better information sharing are new, but the problem is not new. Rassoud’s case is similar to that of another Tunisian man. Anis Amriwho drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market in 2016, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others.

After Amri’s asylum request was rejected, German authorities attempted to deport him, but were unable to do so because he did not have valid identification. Tunisia denied that he was a citizen.

On Tuesday, after leading security talks through the night as the search for Mr. R I loosened my tie.

“The order to leave the territory must be even more binding than it is now,” Decroux acknowledged. “We have to respect the decisions we make.”

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Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of global migration at: https://apnews.com/hub/migration





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