Royal Decree-Law 16/2018, measures to combat the illicit traffic of persons and goods

On 23rd of November of 2018, the Spanish Parliament confirmed the Royal Decree-Law 16/2018, of 26 October, which adopts certain measures to combat the illicit trafficking of people and goods in relation to the RHIBS boats used for that purpose, and which was published in the Spanish Official State Bulletin (BOE) of October 27, 2018. We already announced this Royal Decree -Law in our article “Amendment of the Organic Law on Counter Smuggling” dated 20 July 2018.

It is well known that there are criminal organizations that operate in Spain carrying out activities to smuggle merchandise as well as illegal transport of immigrants using the so-called RHIBS (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) or high-speed semi-rigid inflatable boats. On top of the problems posed by this traffic, per se illegal and punishable, unregistered vessels sailing at high speed in areas of fluid maritime traffic, often in the dark and without tracking devices or signage, constitute an additional risk for maritime safety. This is an activity that puts other vessels in serious danger due to the high possibility of accidents or collisions, apart from being a clear threat to the safety of certain port or coastal infrastructures.

In order to fight the smuggling performed in this type of high-speed boats, taking into consideration their technical characteristics, their ownership and the purpose of their use, they may be subject to seizure. It is possible to initiate the corresponding administrative sanctioning proceedings or appropriate criminal actions if they qualified as prohibited items for the purposes of the Organic Law 12/1995, of 12 December, on Counter Smuggling ( 26836). Failure to comply with the conditions of the authorization of use and registration of these boats will determine the qualification of the vessel as a prohibited item and will permit the inspection and control of operators and vessels throughout the national territory, as well as in the territorial sea, inland waters and the contiguous zone.

As regards the rights, duties and freedoms of citizens, it does not affect the right to property since the prohibited item condition is only a consequence of the use of the vessels without their prior registration or in conditions other than those provided for in the granted authorization.