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Afghan police chief beat deported asylum seekers on Danish plane: report

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Afghan police chief beat deported asylum seekers on Danish plane: report
Photo: Masoud Akbari/Wikimedia Commons
13:10 CEST+02:00
An Afghan police officer “strongly” hit two deported asylum seekers in the head and body on board a flight to Afghanistan chartered by the Danish National Police, reports newspaper Politiken.

Danish police officers were on board the flight on which the incident occurred.

The confidential report on the most recent Danish deportation to Afghanistan on 28th of February this year includes statement from 11 Danish police officials, writes Politiken.

The two men were beaten by the head of Afghan border police on board the aircraft when they refused to disembark after landing in Kabul, says the report.

Danish officers were present during the beating.

A total of 50 Danish officers took part in the deportation of a total of 16 rejected Afghan asylum seekers, which was subject to protests by activists in Denmark.

After landing, 11 of the 16 left the aircraft and a family of three were still sitting in their seats near the front when the two men refused to leave their places, according to the report.

“In this connection, he [the Afghan police officer] made use of force that would not have been deemed justifiable had Danish police acted similarly in the course of their duties in Denmark,” concludes the report.

A Danish police officer who was sitting behind one of the two men said that “four to six powerful blows on the head” were given to him.

Experts told Politiken that the incident is a clear breach of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provisions on torture and degrading treatment.

“There is no professional justification for police to use that kind of force,” said Peter Vedel Kessing of the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

There are also descriptions in the report of the two men being hit by fists, a plastic bag containing an unknown item and having their hair pulled by the Afghan police.

READ ALSO: Denmark to deport 70-year-old woman, dementia sufferer, to Afghanistan

The extent of Danish intervention against the Afghan border policeman is not described by the report. Two Danish police officers are reported to have assisted the Afghan officer in placing plastic strip fasteners around the wrists of one of the men.

Both Kessing and Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen of Sweden's Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights told Politiken that Denmark has jurisdiction on deportation flights, even after landing.

“In the situation described I would support the argument that there is shared jurisdiction. That means that both Danish and Afghan authorities have responsibility for the situation that developed on the plane,” said Gammeltoft-Hansen.

This would mean that Danish police officers in such situations would have to ensure that the refugees are treated in accordance with the ECHR and not handed over to countries where they are at risk of torture or degrading treatment.

“It is valid until the last moment. As long as the deported individuals are on board an aircraft chartered by Danish authorities, Danish police are responsible for assessing whether there are risks of breaching [human rights] in the present case,” Gammeltoft-Hansen told Politiken.

“Of course the deported people can't just refuse to leave the plane so they are flown back to Denmark, but the reports does not say that any of the Danish officers tried to stop the [Afghan] police chief,” Kessing said.

READ ALSO: Half of rejected Denmark asylum applications 'contained falsehoods': report

The lawyer for the two deported Afghan men has contacted the relevant ombudsman, reports Politiken.

In an email to Politiken, immigration minister Inger Støjberg said that proper conditions should be ensured on deportation flights.

“The crucial thing for me is that we deport those that have no right to be in Denmark. I do not wish to talk about this specific case, but I would like to stress that deportations must be done in a proper and decent manner. That is also covered by our arrangements with the countries we deport to,” Støjberg wrote. 

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