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Denmark’s parliament passes 'paradigm change' asylum bill

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Denmark’s parliament passes 'paradigm change' asylum bill
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
16:44 CET+01:00
New legislation providing for what has been described by its proponents as a ‘paradigm shift’ in Denmark’s refugee and asylum policy was passed by parliament on Thursday.

The government, the Danish People’s Party and the Social Democrats all voted in favour of the legislation, which has been the subject of criticism by humanitarian organisations.

A key aspect of the bill is its shift in focus from integration to future repatriation in Denmark’s approach to those who seek refuge in the country, including UN quota refugees and others who do not have permanent status.

READ ALSO: Denmark's government changes policy on UN quota refugees with new bill

Minister for Immigration and Integration Inger Støjberg said that she did not know how many refugees would be sent to home countries as a result of the new legislation.

“We expect a tangible effect. But this is obviously not something we can put a figure on,” she said in parliament.

The Social Democrats, the largest opposition party, voted in favour of the bill despite having stated they did not agree with parts of it, such as a reduction in a social welfare benefit, integrationsydelsen, which people granted asylum are given.

Mattias Tesfaye, who is the party’s spokesperson for immigration, said he supported the general concept of moving towards a temporary status for all refugees.

“People will be given the more honest message that their stay in Denmark is temporary,” Tesfaye said.

Other opposition parties were critical of the new rules.

“The essence of this is about making life harder and more unpleasant for people who have come here to escape Assad’s barrel bombs and the sex slavery and terror of Islamic State,” Red-Green Alliance spokesperson Pelle Dragsted said.

Støjberg compared disagreement between opposition parties over asylum and refugees to an “abyss”.

“It is utterly clear that, if there is a (left wing) majority after the (general) election [to be held no later than June this year, ed.], then immigration will become a battlefield and risks sinking into chaos,” the minister said.

The ‘paradigm shift’ is a term used to describe government and Danish People’s Party policy and law changes which have sought to reduce the number of refugees who remain in Denmark permanently. Around 90 percent currently do so after being given asylum, Ritzau writes.

Refugees should be sent home when conditions in their countries of origin are deemed safe enough for this to occur, according to the policy.

READ ALSO: New Danish asylum curb could restrict refugee access to medicine and dental care

 
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