New Danish immigration law criticised by human rights groups

Refugee permits should be “withdrawn or exempted when possible”, according to a new bill that was approved by the Danish parliament on 21 February 2019.

The latest controversial bill is the government’s most recent attempt to tighten the laws and policies that affect migrants and asylum seekers. It came into force on 1 March 2019. The bill also reduces the number of family reunifications and bring about more severe punishments for those who breach entry bans.

Refugee and human rights groups have criticised the bill. Christian Friis Bach, the secretary general of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), told Euronews he was “saddened” to hear about the new bill. He also accused Denmark of participating in a “European race to the bottom, when it comes to limiting rights for asylum seekers and refugees.”

Referring to the bill’s emphasis on the temporary nature of refugee permits, he added: “Refugees who have received asylum in Denmark should not live a life in constant uncertainty and worry about losing their residence permit.”

He also stated that by reducing the number of family reunifications, the bill would “deprive refugees of their basic human rights,” and that “people in such difficult situations should not be forced to be separated from their loved ones”.

In a statement for Euronews, Henrik M. Nordentoft, the regional representative for northern Europe at UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), echoed the comments of DRC, saying, “Such uncertainty can be detrimental to refugees’ ability to lead normal lives and adapt to Danish society.”

He added that the bill “cannot change the fact that the international refugee regime, including the 1951 Convention on Refugees, regulates in detail when refugee status can be terminated.”

The latest bill passed by the Danish parliament is part of a wider campaign to restrict the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants residing in Denmark. In December of last year, the Danish People’s Party proposed a plan to the parliament to house rejected asylum seekers on a small, remote island which had previously been a testing site for animals with contagious diseases.

TMP – 14/03/2019

Photo: Vlad Ispas/Shutterstock. Palace in Copenhagen is the seat of the Danish Parliament