Now the Ministry for Immigration, Integration and Housing’s widely-discussed and controversial campaign is being investigated by the parliamentary ombudsman on the grounds that it may have been misleading.
“It has been stated that the ministry’s advertisements seen in isolation were factually correct, but that they leave, especially Syrian refugees, with the wrong picture. If that is the case, the refugees could on false premises be swayed into not seeking asylum in Denmark,” Ombudsman Jørgen Steen Sørensen, who ensures that public authorities comply with the laws and other statutes governing their actions, said.
“I therefore believe that we should clarify whether the ministry has lived up to the applicable principles on public information,” he added.
The campaign was published in four Lebanese newspapers. Additionally, it was posted in ten different languages
on the Danish Immigration Service’s website and displayed in asylum centres across Denmark. The Arabic version of the ad was also reportedly circulated widely through social media and a number of influential international news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal
and the Washington Post
, reported on the campaign.
The head of a Danish group called "Refugees Welcome" on Tuesday urged more asylum-seekers to come to the country, in an opinion piece
published in Lebanon's English-language Daily Star, one of the four newspapers to carry the government ad.
"The case-processing time is among the fastest in Europe ... and the waiting time for family reunification is between four and seven months," Michala Bendixen wrote, adding that the adverts "give a completely distorted picture of the situation."
Sørensen said that he has formally requested a response from ministry officials before an October 2nd deadline. The ombudsman’s letter to the ministry can be read here
The Ministry for Immigration, Integration and Housing spent some 252,000 kroner ($37,650) on the advertisements.