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

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.

Afghan police chief beat deported asylum seekers on Danish plane: report
Photo: Masoud Akbari/Wikimedia Commons

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. 


Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

Denmark now aims to work with other EU countries to transfer asylum seekers to centres outside Europe and has suspended talks with Rwanda as it no longer plans to go it alone, its migration minister said on Wednesday.

Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

The Scandinavian country’s plans, first announced by the previous Social Democratic government, called for people seeking asylum in Denmark to be transferred to reception centres outside the European Union while their requests were processed.

A law adopted in June 2021 did not specify which country would host the centre, but said asylum seekers should stay there even after they were granted refugee status.

Discussions were launched with Rwanda and other countries, but they have now been suspended since the installation of a new Danish left-right government in December headed by the Social Democrats.

“We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception centre in Rwanda”, Migration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad told daily Altinget.

“This is a new government. We still have the same ambition, but we have a different process”, he added. “The new government’s programme calls for the establishment of a reception centre outside Europe “in cooperation with the EU or a number of other countries”.

The change is an about-face for the Social Democrats, which had until now rejected any European collaboration, judging it slow and thorny.

“While the wider approach also makes sense to us, [Denmark’s change of heart] is precisely because there has been movement on the issue among many European countries”, Dybvad said. “There are many now pushing for a stricter asylum policy in Europe”, he said.


Inger Støjberg, leader of the Denmark Democrats said on Facebook that she was “honestly disgusted” by the government’s decision to delay plans for a reception centre in Rwanda, pointing out that Kaare Dybvad had said during the election campaign that a deal would be done with Rwanda within a year. 

“Call us old-fashioned, but we say the same thing both before and after an election. We stand firm on a strict immigration policy. The Social Democrats, Liberals and Moderates clearly do not,” she said. 

Lars Boje Mathiesen from the New Right Party accused the government of perpetrating a “deadly fraud” on the Danish people. 

“It is said in Christiansborg that it is paused. But we all know what that means,” he wrote on Facebook, accusing Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen of “empty words” in the run-up to the election. 

In the face of this reaction, Dybvad told the Ritzau newswire that although talks with Rwanda were not happening at present, the government had not given up on a deal with the African nation. He also said that he was confident that asylum reception centres outside of the EU would be a reality within five years.

EU interior ministers are meeting in Stockholm this week to discuss asylum reform. Those talks are expected to focus on how to speed up the process of returning undocumented migrants to their country of origin in cases where their asylum bid fails.

Denmark’s immigration policy has been influenced by the far-right for more than 20 years. Even Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, the head of the Social Democrats, has pursued a “zero refugee” policy since coming to power in 2019.

Copenhagen has over the years implemented a slew of initiatives to discourage migrants and made Danish citizenship harder to obtain. In 2020, it became the only country in Europe to withdraw residency permits from Syrians from Damascus, judging that the situation there was now safe enough for them to return.