• Denmark's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Danish migrant bill blasted at UN
A refugee tent camp in Næstved. Photo: Mathias Løvgreen Bojesen/Scanpix

Danish migrant bill blasted at UN

Nina Larson/AFP · 21 Jan 2016, 15:32

Published: 21 Jan 2016 15:32 GMT+01:00

In the UN Human Rights Council's first review of Denmark's rights record since 2011, a number of the 87 country representatives who took the floor decried the Scandinavian country's recent tightening of its migration policies as it struggles to deal with record numbers of asylum seekers.
 
US representative Keith Harper was among those who voiced alarm over a bill expected to pass through the Danish parliament allowing the confiscation of migrants' valuables, among other measures.
 
"We note with concern the bill pending in the Danish parliament that would permit the Danish authorities to search the belongings of asylum seekers and seize cash and certain objects of value," he told the council.
 
Egyptian representative Mohamed Elmolla also blasted the bill, stressing that "confiscating valuable belongings to cover refugees' expenses (is) in clear violation of their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
 
Gross misunderstandings
But Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen insisted the international outcry over the bill was due to "gross misunderstandings."
 
"The Danish welfare state is based upon the very simple principle that the state will provide and pay for those unable to take care of themselves, not for those who are able," he told the council.
 
"This simple principle applies for Danes seeking unemployment benefits, as well as to asylum seekers," he said, explaining the reasoning behind the plan to seize asylum seekers' cash exceeding 10,000 kroner (1,340 euros, $1,450), as well as any individual items valued at more than 10,000 kroner to help pay for their housing and benefits during the asylum process.
 
Wedding rings and other items of sentimental value are exempt, he stressed.
 
In Copenhagen on Thursday, the Danish lawmakers gave a final nod to the bill, guaranteeing that Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen's minority right-wing government will win a January 26 parliamentary vote.
 
In Geneva, diplomats also raised concerns about other aspects of the bill, including measures making it harder for some asylum seekers to obtain family reunifications and residency permits.
 
And many decried a perceived increase in xenophobic and racist discourse in Denmark.
 
Veronika Bard, representing neighbouring Sweden voiced understanding over the challenges Denmark was facing, but said her country was "concerned about the tendency of public discourse in Denmark to be prejudiced towards migrants, sometimes even amounting to hate speech."
 
Jensen insisted that Denmark was a champion of human rights both at home and abroad, but acknowledged that with the large influx of refugees, his country needed "to do better" in the area of integration.
Story continues below…
 
"Imbalances need to be addressed. They break down societal cohesion, foster the feeling of being excluded and create the fertile ground for radicalisation, hate crimes and discrimination," Jensen said.
 
"This vicious circle needs to be broken, and it will be a priority for my government to do so."
 
Jensen is also expected to soon travel to Brussels to explain the bill to the European Parliament, which on Wednesday called on Denmark to address the body over its concerns about the legislation.
 
Home to 5.6 million people, Denmark registered 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, making it one of the top EU destinations per capita for migrants after Finland, Austria, Germany and Sweden.

For more news from Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nina Larson/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Today's headlines
Danish opposition leader: Trump is a ‘populist know-it-all’
Things might get a little awkward if both Frederiksen and Trump end up becoming heads of state in their respective countries. Photo: Jim Watson/Scanpix

The leader of Denmark’s largest opposition party launched a scathing attack on the controversial US presidential candidate in a Facebook post to her supporters on Wednesday.

1 in 3 Danes believe Denmark is at war with Islam
A fighter jet launches from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: US Navy/Scanpix

A new survey finds that a sizeable minority of Danes believe that the country is at war with the religion of Islam and its adherents.

Study finds Danes are getting (even) taller

A new study found that the Danes have been getting even taller compared to the rest of the world over the last century.

Danish comedian slams prayer and religion in viral video
Photo: John MacDougall/Scanpix

A video by a Danish comedian has stirred up a heated debate on the utility of prayer and religion in general.

Danish asylum centre visited by alleged Isis recruiter
Rønne harbour. A number of new asylum centres have been established on the island of Bornholm in recent years. Photo: Ehrenberg Kommuni

A Danish asylum centre on the island of Bornholm was purportedly visited by a man claiming to be an Isis representative.

Nude photo exhibition opens in Copenhagen
Mathilde Grafström's photographs are intended to show that there is nothing wrong with the female body. Photo: Mathilde Grafström

A controversial nude photo exhibition finally opened on Copenhagen’s Nytorv square on Monday after months of wrangling with the local police.

Danes: Muslims must speak out against terrorism
Flowers left outside the French embassy in Copenhagen the day after the attack in Nice, France. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix

According to a new survey, 3 in 4 Danes believe that Muslims in Denmark are not doing enough to distance themselves from extremist acts carried out in the name of their religion.

Copenhagen 4th most liveable city in the world
The magazine praised Copenhagen’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure and nightlife. Photo: Roman Board/Flickr

The Danish capital makes a comeback in the British lifestyle magazine Monocle’s Quality of Life Index, where it 'only' came in 10th last year.

Number of Danes joining Isis in decline
Syrian civil defence members evacuate a young man following a reported air strike on the besieged rebel-controlled town of Douma. Abd Doumany/Scanpix

A number of recently published reports from Scandinavian intelligence services suggest that Isis recruitment peaked across Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia in 2013/2014.

Denmark slammed for sending lesbians to Uganda

Denmark’s decision to deny asylum to three lesbians and send them back to their home country of Uganda has been criticized by an LGBT group.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Technology
Danish Pokémon Go player finds dead body
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Denmark can't keep up with trove of ancient discoveries
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Culture
Our complete coverage from the 2016 Roskilde Festival
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
National
Danish police use infamous 'jewellery law' for first time
National
Danes with foreign spouses to be hit by new restriction
International
After Brexit, Danish PM resists calls for similar EU referendum
International
Why Denmark won't try to follow the UK out of the EU
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
National
Copenhagen police tear down Christiania cannabis market
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
International
Danish PM: Orlando shooting act of 'hatred'
Society
Sex campaigns lead to Danish baby boom
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Don't worry Denmark, the world still loves you
Culture
Danish diversity ad a massive social media hit – have you seen it?
National
Denmark scraps green card but spares current holders
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Society
Denmark takes historic step for transgender rights
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
National
Denmark to impose new 'integration' rules on kids
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
National
Green card holders in Denmark in race against time
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
National
How Copenhagen achieved an ‘organic food revolution’
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Travel
The second best destination in all of Europe is...
Sport
We are the champions! Denmark wins world badminton team title
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
National
After 100 years, British WW1 sailor identified in Denmark
Society
Strangest political story in Denmark just got stranger
2,308
jobs available