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Outrage at Danish plan to strip refugee jewellery

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Refugees arriving at the Danish port of Rødby received a harsh welcome in September. Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix
13:53 CET+01:00
The Danish government's plan to strip asylum seekers of money and valuables has sparked outrage across the world after an article in a Turkish newspaper, which wrongly claimed the proposal had become law, went massively viral.
The article in the Daily Sabah newspaper has spurred copycat articles in the Washington Post and the Daily Beast among others, generating a swell of anger an outrage on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. 
 
Salil Tripathi, a prominent Indian journalist and author denounced the proposal as "outrageous".
 
 
Other commentators likened the move to measures put in place by Nazi Germany. 
 
 
The truth is that the bill in which the controversial proposal is contained was only submitted to parliament on December 10th and will not be debated for the first time in the Danish parliament until the first few weeks of January. 
 
Denmark's weak minority government also failed to win agreement from the other parties in their negotiations ahead of submitting the bill, making it unlikely that it is will make it into law in its present form.
 
The outrage is not entirely misplaced, however, as Denmark's government is indeed proposing to give the police powers to confiscate asylum seekers' valuables. 
 
In the press statement accompanying the submission of the bill to parliament, Denmark's immigration ministry listed the measure as one of twelve points it hoped would form part of the bill. 
 
"If you have sufficient means then you have to pay for yourself," a ministry employee working on the legal drafting explained to The Local.   
 
"What we propose now is that if you bring money, the police will have the power to search for and take into their possession any valuable assets that the asylum seeker may bring with him or her. They can search clothes and they can search luggage." 
 
In the draft law, personal belongings such as watches and mobiles phones would be exempt from seizure, as would up to 3000 Danish kroner ($435) in cash. 
 

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Articles of "special personal meaning" would only be seized if they were "of sufficient value". 
 
The plan to confiscate valuables is not the only harsh measure in the new law, which aims to make Denmark's asylum law -- already one of the least generous and most draconian in Europe -- even tougher. 
 
The country has very successfully sidestepped the refugee crisis that has hit its neighbour Sweden by doing everything possible to make itself unappealing to refugees. 
 
In September, for example, its government went so far as to publish an advert in Lebanese newspapers informing would-be asylum seekers of its tough new regime. 
 

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