News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week June 13th to June 19th
IMMIGRATION CHARTER FOR EUROPE
Spain to lead EU fight against illegal immigration
By James Parkes
THE HOME OFFICE HAS ANNOUNCED FURTHER AMENDMENTS TO SPANISH IMMIGRATION LAWS IN LINE WITH THE TOUGH IMMIGRATION CHARTER THAT SPAIN WILL PRESENT AT THE EU JUNE 21-22 SUMMIT IN SEVILLA.
Illegal immigration has gone to the top of the EU's problem list and Spanish PM José María Aznar, President of the EU until June 30, is this week visiting all EU countries to brief statesmen on the Immigration Charter he will be presenting later this month.
The proposal, which includes swift deportation, an EU border police force and high penalties for people traffickers, also draws the outline for new amendments to Spanish legislation.
One of the main amendments to Spanish immigration laws will be that immigrants who enter the country illegally will never be granted legal status. The government will also remove the settlement clause, whereby immigrants who had been illegally in Spain over five years are given automatic legal status. Illegal immigrants will no longer be able to claim they are integrated in the Spanish labour market or have family ties in Spain to obtain legal residence. Prison sentences will be delivered to those found guilty of running illegal immigration rings.
delegate for Immigration, Enrique Fernández-Miranda, said
the aim of the legal amendments is to 'eliminate the few aspects
of the law that still encourage the existence of illegal immigration'.
Political analysts admit that when the PP presented its first immigration law scheme two years ago many regarded it as one of the toughest in Europe, but over a short period of time the problem has grown throughout the EU, making laws enforced in 2001 'too slack for 2002'.
ITALY, DENMARK AND AUSTRIA GET TOUGH
The approval of the Immigration Charter is almost guaranteed since many other EU states have approved tighter immigration laws over the past two weeks. Italy now orders expulsion for any illegal immigrant found without a job, new Austrian legislation obliges immigrants to learn the German language or be expelled from the country and Denmark has approved a strict anti-asylum package including immediate deportation, language tests, age limits and even marriage restrictions for immigrants.
MOROCCO ARRESTS THREE AL QA'EDA SUSPECTS
British and USA warships were planned targets of suicide attacks
By Davide Eade
MOROCCO HAS ARRESTED THREE SAUDI ARABIAN AL QA'EDA SUSPECTS, THOUGHT TO BE PLANNING SUICIDE ATTACKS ON UK AND AMERICAN WARSHIPS PASSING THROUGH GIBRALTAR.
Last week's CDSN reported on the heightened security measures being taken in Gibraltar and how all shipping movements in the Straits area were being closely monitored. Although the Ministry of Defence was playing down the high security levels saying they were just routine operations, there was speculation that al Qa'eda groups might be active in the area.
Now it has been announced that Morocco has arrested three al Qa'eda suspects. The detained are all Saudi Arabians and were arrested late last month. The Moroccans believe they were planning to carry out suicide attacks on British and USA warships passing through the Straits of Gibraltar.
The suspects allegedly planned to ram the ships in high-speed launches packed with explosives. Naval experts have said that such an attack would have been very difficult to carry out on moving vessels but memories are still fresh of the attack on USS Cole in the Yemen in 2000. The US warship was refuelling off the port when attacked and 19 sailors were killed. An attempt to attack naval ships in Gibraltar's harbour could not also be ruled out.
AN INTERNATIONAL OPERATION
Morocco has expressed its thanks to the security services of several nations who helped in the tracking down and arrest of the three Saudis. Although the countries were not named, British Intelligence is believed to have played a major role alongside the Germans.
The German Intelligence Service remains convinced that al Qa'eda was responsible for the recent murder of German tourists in a bomb blast in Tunisia which went largely under reported at the time. The Germans are convinced that there are al Qa'eda operational groups active in the Mediterranean and the Moroccan arrests would seem to support their theory.
NO JET SKIS THIS SUMMER
Last season's accidents prompt Government action
By David Eade
LAST SUMMER TWO SERIOUS JET SKI ACCIDENTS TOOK PLACE ON THE COSTA DEL SOL. ON JULY 7 A YOUNG MAN WAS KILLED AND HIS GIRLFRIEND SERIOUSLY INJURED AFTER A COLLISION OFF A BEACH IN SAN PEDRO DE ALCÁNTARA. LATER THE SAME MONTH ON JULY 25 ANOTHER YOUTH WAS INVOLVED IN AN ACCIDENT OFF BENALMÁDENA IN WHICH HE LOST A LEG.
These accidents along with others off Spain's coast have forced central government into action. Under Royal Decree 259/02 published on March 12, stringent new regulations were put into force to control the hire and use of jet skis off the country's coastline.
The Capitanía Marítima in Málaga, which is under the control of the Ministry of Public Works, reported that last year it received many complaints from people in the province concerning jet skis. They complained about the noise and the exhaust gasses emitted by the machines as well as the danger to bathers.
As reported recently in Costa del Sol News, Marbella Town Hall has already acted to restrict the use of jet skis to just nine of its 26 beach zones. Now Benalmádena has reported that none of the four jet ski concessions that have previously operated in the town have applied for a new licence.
Indeed it now looks highly likely that no jet ski concessions will be operating on the Costa del Sol this summer. Málaga's Capitanía Marítima, who is responsible for issuing the new licences, has stated that to date not one application has been received. This compares to 15 applications last year.
Under the new regulations jet ski hire companies must have two monitors on duty at all times. Each jet ski must be fitted with a remote control and both the monitors and rescue services must each have a control. Jet skis must be powered less than 52 horsepower, whereas most hire jet skis were 70 horsepower. All users must be given instructions on how to use jet skis. In addition, no jet ski must come nearer than 200 metres to the coastline except in specially marked zones.
Beach users are now complaining about the lack of marked areas for jet skis to use. Currently only Benalmádena and Torremolinos have installed buoyed zones showing where jet skis can approach the shore as well as marking the 200-metre line.
The placing of the buoys is the responsibility of the association of town halls, which has a grant of 390,000 euros from regional government for the task. The association says that 43.4 kilometres of coastline has to be marked and the work will be carried out this month.
People who own their own jet skis will not be able to use them unless they have a licence issued by an accredited authority. The minimum age for using a jet ski is set at 18 years or 16 years if the user has the permission of their parents.
Currently there are 1,391 licensed jet skis in Málaga Province. Of these, 1,036 are privately owned and 355 registered with hire companies. However the authorities have no figures relating to the number of jet skis owned by non-resident foreigners who use them along the coast. For now these do not require a licence.
TWO BLUES FOR TORROX BEACHES
But "black flags" awarded elsewhere
By Dave Jamieson
TORROX IS THE ONLY RESORT IN THE REGION TO HAVE TWO BEACHES WITH BLUE FLAGS.
Both Ferrara and El Morche beaches have received flags for the second year running, signalling good quality sea water and facilities for bathers. It is unusual for the administrators of the blue flags to award two within a municipality, much less for two consecutive years.
However, ecologists in the Axarquía are collaborating to award "black flags" to points on the coast which show serious deterioration or environmental impact. The associations Gena and Axarquía Ecologists in Action want to draw authorities' attention to the need for improved environmental protection on the coasts, and have already condemned the construction of Rincón de la Victoria's Paseo Maritimo as "irrational". Gena's co-ordinator, Rafel Yus, says it impedes water flow and causes flooding, as was demonstrated last September.
As a result of waste water contamination, the group has awarded a black flag to the beach at Benajarafe, with others going to Chiches beach, Levante and Poniente in Torre del Mar, Mezquitilla and Lagos.
VÉLEZ TO TORRE TRANVÍA GOES AHEAD
And Vélez' new park opens within 12 months
By Dave Jamieson
The new public transport link between Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar has been approved by the Junta de Andalucía. Mayor Antonio Souvirón said work could now begin on the €19.2 million project which will provide an ecological solution to the problem of traffic congestion between the two municipalities.
The 'tranvía' will run between the old railway station in Vélez and the church in Torre, with nine stops. Two carriages, each holding up to 200 passengers, will travel back and forth at an average speed of up to 70 kilometres per hour, including stops. Building work will proceed in two phases, the first covering 4.6 kilometres.
A clause in regional government's agreement obliges Vélez Town Hall to integrate the tranvía in the public transport system presently being developed by the Junta on the eastern Costa del Sol. It will eventually be co-ordinated with existing public transport in Vélez and with the bus network in the area.
Meanwhile, the new leisure and recreation park in Vélez should open within a year. The 60,000 square metre site is presently being developed in a €1.9 million project, half of which is financed by regional government. The park will have a large ornamental lake with a fountain, toddlers' play areas, three petanque courts, and a restaurant.
FRENCH GANG ARREST PREVENTS RAID
Spectacular car chase on the Málaga-Granada road
By Dave Jamieson
National Police in Málaga and Granada have detained four alleged members of a French gang specialising in robberies from security vans. The men, three French and one Moroccan, were arrested following police investigations which, it is believed, have foiled a planned raid in Madrid.
action began in Málaga when two of the suspects were followed
through the city by specialist officers. The first was driving a
stolen Audi, which the second was following in a rented vehicle,
but when they realised they were being tailed, the men began a long
and dangerous chase from the coast to Granada, where they were finally
apprehended. Both men are understood to have criminal records for
assault and armed robbery on a security van in France.
The other detentions came the following day when police officers visited an address in Málaga. A struggle, in which one officer was slightly injured, followed. The Moroccan is believed to have previous convictions for drug trafficking.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
The Central Government is to fund a project to place sound barriers along 73 kilometres of the N-340. The plan will cost the Ministry of Public Works 346,788 euros and will aim to reduce the impact of traffic noise levels for thousands of people living along three stretches of the major road way.
The first section will be between km 153 and 177, which runs from Estepona to Marbella and includes Puerto Banús. The second will cover the area between km 183 and 212 from Marbella to Los Boliches in Fuengirola. The third area will be from km 230 to 249 in Málaga from Guadalmar to La Araña.