The provision was secured under the new budget agreement between Denmark’s conservative tripartite coalition government and anti-immigration ally the Danish People’s Party (DF).
Foreign citizens convicted of crimes and slated for deportation under the terms of their sentences will be held at a facility on Lindholm, a seven-hectare island in Stege Bay between the islands of Møn and Zealand, Minister of Finance Kristian Jensen confirmed.
“They will not be imprisoned,” Jensen said in quotes reported by news agency Ritzau.
“There will be a ferry service to and from the island, but the ferry will not operate around the clock, and they must stay at the departure centre at night. That way we will be better able to monitor where they are,” he said.
The facility will house convicted foreign nationals whom Denmark is unable to deport, for example due to being stateless or because no readmission arrangement exists between Denmark and their home country.
Kærshovedgård Departure Centre in Jutland is currently used to accommodate such individuals as well as others who have not committed any crime but whose asylum applications have been rejected by Denmark.
Kærshovedgård will not be closed and will remain in use for the accommodation of rejected asylum seekers awaiting deportation, Ritzau reports.
The Lindholm facility will be used to house people with so-called ‘tolerated stay’ (tålt ophold) status, who do not have permission to reside in Denmark but cannot be deported, and rejected asylum seekers who have committed specific crimes.
The Danish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalforsorgen) will be responsible for the operation of the facility. Police will be present at all times and detention facilities will be provided for individuals placed under arrest to be held while they await further transportation.
The centre will be brought into operation over several phases to be completed by 2021.
“There are more limits to how much you can move around when you are on a deserted island. You are in principle obliged to remain on the island. So we will have more control over where they are,” Jensen said to Ritzau.
“It is a problem for us that we can see that some foreigners who have in fact been sentenced to deportation are still committing crimes, and we have no way of monitoring them,” he added.
Opposition politicians criticised the plan.
The policy reflected a “humanitarian collapse” in Danish politics, Uffe Elbæk, political leader with the environmentalist Alternative party and a prime ministerial candidate, wrote on Twitter.
“The green government I want to lead would never force people on to a deserted island,” Elbæk wrote.
“Inhuman politics are creating a completely different Denmark to the Denmark I love,” he added.
Den grønne regering, jeg ønsker at stå i spidsen for, kommer aldrig til at tvinge mennesker ud på en øde ø. Aldrig. Aldrig. Aldrig. Vi er vidne til et humanistisk kollaps, hvor menneskefjendsk politik skaber et helt andet Danmark, end det Danmark jeg elsker #dkpol #fl19
— Uffe Elbaek (@uffeelbaek) November 30, 2018
Morten Østergaard, leader of the Social Liberals (Radikale Venstre), cited concerns voiced by residents and the mayor and reported by broadcaster DR in Vordingborg, the administrative centre of the municipality in which Lindholm is located.
The decision to place foreign convicted criminals on a deserted island was “symbolic politics without an end,” Østergaard tweeted.
Først trodsede Støjberg og Thulesen alle advarsler og skabte problemerne på Kærhovedgaard og i Bording. Nu smides mennesker som kastebold videre. Og nye problemer skabes. Symbolpolitik uden ende. Med omkostninger for alle. Udlændinge. Danskere. Alle.https://t.co/XtlXMIsm8g
— Morten Østergaard (@oestergaard) December 1, 2018
In contrast, the Danish People's Party celebrated the announcement by tweeting from its official account a graphic showing a dark-skinned man in apparently Islamic attire being transported to a deserted island in miserable weather.
“Deported, criminal foreigners have NO reason to be in Denmark. Until we can get rid of them, we will move them to the island of Lindholm,” the tweet read.
“They will be obliged to stay at the new deportation centre at night and there will be police around the clock. Great!”, the post continues.
Udviste, kriminelle udlændinge har INTET at gøre i Danmark. Indtil vi kan komme af med dem, flytter vi dem nu ud på øen Lindholm i Stege Bugt, hvor de vil have pligt til at opholde sig på det nye udrejsecenter om natten. Og der vil være politi til stede døgnet rundt. Sådan!#dkpol pic.twitter.com/YybG4zkwQi
— Dansk Folkeparti (@DanskDf1995) November 30, 2018
Lindholm is currently used by the Technical University of Denmark’s (DTU) Veterinary Institute, which carries out research into viruses affecting cattle and swine. The research is carried out on the uninhabited island due to precautions against potential contagion.
DTU’s researchers will leave the island to make way for its new function, Jensen confirmed.