AMBERLIGHT: Joint Police Operation detects 1,344 "overstayers" but only 10 using forged documents

AMBERLIGHT, an EU-wide Joint Police Operation aimed at detecting visa "overstayers" and in particular those "travelling with forged documents", led to the detection of 1,344 people staying beyond the time permitted by their visa. However, just 10 were using forged documents.

A total of 1,344 visa overstayers were detected at air borders from 36 of the 55 airports monitored over two weekends in April, according to the final report of the project (pdf).

The Joint Police Operation (JPO) was organised by the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the EU and took place during the Easter holidays (Western Christian holiday 2-6 April, and the Orthodox holiday 10-13 April) on the basis that it would be the time with "the highest number of departing third-country nationals".

The particular objective of the operation was to:

"[C]ollect information on cases when third country nationals were travelling with forged documents - especially in the case of imposters."

Only three airports reported detection of falsified documents, two in Italy and the other in Belgium, resulting in only 10 cases of use of false documents - 0.74% of the total number of overstayers detected.

Nine of the ten using forged documents had the intention to travel to Canada, while the majority of visa overstayers as a whole were Ukrainian.

Of the overstayers from visa-exempt countries, the main nationalities were Brazil and the United States.

Countries which detected the majority of overstayers were France, Italy and Greece respectively.

"Main reasons for the overstay are tourism and work," and family visits, and most overstayers use "direct flights to return to their countries of origin", the report notes.

From AMBERLIGHT to green light

Operation AMBERLIGHT 2015 was "continuing with the tradition of previous activities held during the previous Presidencies".

These activities include the controversial Joint Police Operation Mos Maiorum which resulted in the apprehension of 19,000 people across Europe, including 11,000 asylum seekers.

It is not yet known whether plans have been put forward by the current Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU, but it can be assumed that this "tradition" is likely to continue. Such operations have now been running once every six months for a number of years.

Boosting Frontex's databases

In addition, recommendations by the Latvian Presidency in its final report on AMBERLIGHT include using Frontex's JORA system as standard practice.

JORA stands for Joint Operations Reporting Application , and is used for "secure and continuous data exchange and provides close to real-time automated reporting and visualisation of operational information," including personal data. [1]

According to a presentation given at the 2011 European Border Guard Day, JORA is:

"[A] web-based application which will enable Frontex and Member States staff involved in Joint Operations to efficiently and effectively exchange and validate operational data."

During a live demonstration the main JORA functionalities and capabilities was presented:

"… such as the online data collection mechanism, interactive operational dashboard and online access management."

Access to the system is based on a "need to know" basis.


Further reading

[1] 'Police chiefs want non-EU countries to "prevent irregular migration from happening"', Statewatch News Online, January 2015; Frontex, 'General Report 2011', 2012, p.19
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