In the past three years, Denmark has taken steps in the right direction to improve integration, a report from the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) concluded.
The ECRI is the human rights body of the Council of Europe, an international organization that promotes co-operation between 47 European countries. Unlike the European Union, it cannot make binding laws, but regularly makes recommendations following research by panels of independent experts.
In 2012, it issued a report suggesting three key ways Denmark could improve integration over the next two years: revamping its family reunification rules, ensuring funding for NGOs working on anti-discrimination measures and diversifying the nation’s police force.
In a news release on Tuesday, the ECRI said that Denmark had fully or partially implemented two of those recommendations.
On the issue of family reunification, the ECRI in 2012 encouraged Denmark to “remove any elements which amount to direct or indirect discrimination”. Since then, the Danish government has not implemented any sweeping reforms for the family reunification scheme. The most significant change in the area was announced last year, when the government decided to make it harder for refugees to bring their family members to Denmark.
The restrictions on family reunification for refugees has been roundly criticized by human rights organizations like Amnesty International and the UN Refugee Agency, which which warned that Denmark risks violating international laws with the measures.
The ECRI had a better take on “the positive steps” that Denmark has taken in response to the suggestion to ensure funding for NGOs that work on anti-racism and pro-inclusion projects.
The report pointed to a series of initiatives aimed at welcoming foreigners and integrating them into Danish society, including projects run by the Danish Red Cross and Danish Refugee Council.
“Although these projects have not been fully implemented yet, as they cover the period of 2014-16, ECRI considers that they are evidence of a move in the right direction,” the report stated.
The ECRI also had praise for the efforts of the Danish National Police (Rigspolitiet) to encourage more ethnic minorities to join the police force.
“ECRI has been informed that the Danish National Police intensified its efforts and took a number of initiatives to increase diversity in policing,” the report said.
The report praised the diversity strategy adopted by the police in cooperation with the Danish Institute of Human Rights and a new “employer branding strategy” aimed at getting the Danish police force to be more ethnically representative of the country’s population.
The ECRI singled out an effort in Aalborg that brought together police officers and the local integration council to educate the immigrant community about the work of Danish police officers and the “importance of contributing to a diversified police force”. Aarhus will also soon implement the same programme.
“ECRI views these steps as positive measures, which are evidence of sincere efforts to diversify the police force,” the report said.