Denmark violated rights of stateless residents

For nearly two decades, Denmark violated international law by denying the citizenship applications of stateless residents a long-awaited report concluded on Monday.

Denmark violated rights of stateless residents
The stateless scandal cost Birthe Rønn Hornbech her job as immigration minister, but the nine-volume report did not hold her personally responsible. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix
Between the period of 1991 to 2010, Denmark wrongfully denied citizenship to stateless residents in violation of their rights and the nation’s international obligations, the so-called Stateless Commission said on Monday. 
The commission concluded that the denial of citizenship to stateless applicants – primarily stateless Palestinians born in Denmark – went against UN conventions on the rights of stateless individuals.
According to the commission, the denials that occurred through 2007 were the result of “negligence” for which no one will be held personally responsible. However, the wrongful denial of citizenship to 36 stateless individuals between 2008 and 2010 was pinned on two civil servants in the Immigration Ministry. The officials were immediately relieved of their duties on Monday and may face further repercussions. 
“The commission has uncovered that in the period from 1991 to 2010 there were a long line of mistakes made in handling the applications for stateless individuals born in Denmark,” Justice Minister Søren Pind said in a statement. 
With the commission’s conclusions, former Immigration Minister Birthe Rønn Hornbech escaped personal responsible for the mistakes made under her command. Hornbech was forced to resign as minister in 2011 after it was revealed that her ministry continued to deny citizenship to stateless applicants despite learning in 2008 that Denmark was not living up to its international obligations as laid out in the 1961 UN Convention on Statelessness and the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 
The commission said that even though Hornbech was required to inform parliament that stateless residents born in Denmark were not being included in the annual citizenship bills as they should have been, she was not given “sufficient advice” by the ombudsmen. 
“The commission did not take a position on the question of ministerial responsibility, since it is parliament that has authority to raise those kinds of cases. But in my opinion, there is no foundation in the report for holding Birthe Rønn Hornbech responsible,” Pind said. 
The nine-volume report released on Monday was the result of a four-year investigation that saw the commission pour through more than 60,000 documents and question some 50 witnesses. 

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QUIZ: Can you pass the 2022 Danish citizenship test?

If you want to become a Danish citizen, you'll have to prove your knowledge of the country's culture, history, politics and more by passing a citizenship test. Can you pass our quiz version?

QUIZ: Can you pass the 2022 Danish citizenship test?

A condition of getting Danish citizenship is to demonstrate knowledge of Danish society, culture and history by passing a citizenship test (indfødsretsprøve).

In April 2021, the previous version of the citizenship test, which consisted of 40 multiple choice questions, was supplemented with five extra questions about “Danish values” such as equality, freedom of speech and the relation between legislation and religion. 

The pass mark is 36/45 and at least four of the five Danish values questions must be answered correctly. 

Children under 12, Swedish and Norwegian citizens, and people from the Danish minority in German region Schleswig-Holstein do not need to take the citizenship test.

READ ALSO: How do Denmark’s citizenship rules compare to Sweden and Norway?

While there are 45 questions (and they’re in Danish) in the real test, we’ve compiled 15 for you to have a go at answering. They are all based on the actual test from November 2022.

The pass mark on the real test is 36/45, with at least 4 of the 5 “values” questions (the last 5 questions in the test) correctly answered. In our version, the last 3 questions are taken from the Danish values section of the real test.

The 45 questions in the real citizenship test cover a broader range of topics and styles than those covered here, so please don’t take our quiz as any certain measure of your ability to pass the real thing.