Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras



Depending on SEF’s Central Directorate for Investigation (entity with responsibilities under the prevention and investigation of crime of SEF’s competence, whenever organised crime is involved or which investigation is of particular complexity) one can find the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit, a body especially suited for fighting the phenomenon of human trafficking, relentlessly and comprehensively.​

Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Central Directorate for Investigations of the Immigration and Borders Service


(a) The perspective and position of the Immigration and Borders Service in the fight against Trafficking in Human Beings

(b) The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit: nature, tasks and competences​

(c) Institutional Contacts

(d) Anti-Human Trafficking Unit’s actions

(e) Useful links(f) Legislation

(g) Raising Awareness

(a) The perspective and position of the Immigration and Borders Service in the fight against Trafficking in Human Beings

Since its creation the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) has been facing new challenges. Initially these related with the entry into the European Union and with the subsequent abolition of internal borders, but remain today in the face of migratory pressures and the proliferation of organized criminal groups that enter, act and move within the Schengen area.

This set of factors forced SEF to a continuous effort of adaptation and modernisation, but also contributed to its statement as a criminal police body that is always looking to improve. Currently our competences cover areas as perse as monitoring the movement of persons across borders; the surveillance of the activity and stay of foreigners within national boundaries; the investigation of criminal phenomena connected to illegal immigration; and the study, promotion, coordination and implementation of various measures and actions, either internally or externally, in order to understand and cope with the phenomena of illegal migration and trafficking in human beings.

SEF’s accumulated experience and involvement in the study of immigration matters granted us a deep knowledge of the migratory phenomena and of the true dimension of the problem of human trafficking. Hence, as police body with a strong track record in the investigation of trafficking in persons, SEF is well aware of its characteristics and specificities, but also of the difficulties of investigating this hideous crime.

Faced with these obstacles, SEF has been steadily working to learn and adapt to this very dynamic reality, supporting its strategy in the pillars of:

Prevention: mainly focused on training and awareness-raising;

Protection: ensuring and monitoring appropriate assistance to victims;

Investigation: constantly adapting and updating its investigatory techniques;

Cooperation: creating and developing partnerships with various national and international institutions, and with governmental or non-governmental organizations, which all have in common a wide experience and know-how in this área.

Within its many dimensions these measures find internal legal support in the Law No. 29/2012 of August 9th (Immigration Act), in the Decree-Law No. 368/2007 of November 5th (Special Regime for granting residence permits to victims of trafficking in persons), in the Portuguese Penal and Penal Procedural Code, and in the Law No. 60/2013 of August 23rd, which transposed the EU Directive 2011/36 (on the prevention and fight against Trafficking in Human Beings and on the protection of victims) to our national legal framework, and more recently in the III National Plan for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, which foresees a set of measures in the area of Trafficking in Human Beings where both SEF and its Anti-Human Trafficking Unit have direct intervention.

(b) The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit: nature, tasks and competences

Organized hierarchically under the Central Directorate for Investigations of the Immigration and Borders Service (entity with responsibilities in the context of criminal prevention and investigation of the crimes under SEF’s jurisdiction, whenever these involve organized crime or specially complex investigations) the newly created Anti-Human Trafficking Unit is a body specifically designed to combat human trafficking in all its fronts.

Its main tasks are:

- To proactively collect evidence in order to enhance the victim’s flagging process, always articulating its activity in close cooperation with the Prosecution Office;

- To obtain, compile, analyze and disseminate information and intelligence on Trafficking in Human Beings;

- To assist and provide technical expertise to other SEF’s Units and Departments engaged in the fight against Trafficking in Human Beings; - To train and raise awareness on Human Trafficking, both internally and externally;

- To follow up and support established protocols and partnerships between SEF and other public and private entities that operate in the field of Trafficking in Human Beings, namely with the Commission for Gender Equality, the Observatory of Trafficking in Human Beings, the Family Planning Association, the Network of Support and Protection for Victims of Trafficking, the Portuguese Association of Victims Support, Health in Portuguese, as well as with other national Law Enforcement Agencies and European bodies, such as EUROPOL or FRONTEX.

SEF recognizes that combating human trafficking is a long and demanding process, which requires action, perseverance and adaptability. With this is mind, the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit’s challenges are to focus SEF’s attention on the victim, to proactively gather data and intelligence on the human trafficking phenomena, both by human and open sources, but always in close cooperation with our national and international partners, in a fundamental and combined effort to attain one final goal: to contribute to the eradication of Human Trafficking.

(c) Institutional Contacts

Institutional contacts the unit for the purposes of:

- Filing a complaint
- ​​​Requests for information and collaboration

Mobile net: +351 96 424 42 81
Fixed net: +351 21 318 99 82

(d) Anti-Human Trafficking Unit’s actions

Algarve Resident, 20-12-2013

Portugal News, 21-12-2013​

Algarve Resident, 18-07-2014

(e) Useful links

Legispédia SEF

(f) Legislation

Latest version of the Portuguese Penal Code

Latest version of the Immigration Act

(g) Raising Awareness

Trafficking in Human Beings /Commission for Citizenship and Gender equality/ Presidency of the Council of Ministers


Leaflet PT

Poster PT​​​​​

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