Denmark ends plan for ‘deserted island’ deportation facility

Plans to accommodate ‘unwanted' migrants on Lindholm, an uninhabited Danish island, have been officially scrapped by the Social Democratic government.

Denmark ends plan for 'deserted island' deportation facility
Lindholm. Photo: Emil Gjerding Nielson/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Minister for Immigration and Integration Matthias Tesfaye gave on Thursday official confirmation that the facility, plans for which were put in place by the previous government, has now been permanently shelved.

Tesfaye’s ministry confirmed the decision via email.

“It is very expensive to sail criminal foreigners back and forth between Lindholm and the mainland. One night on the island costs the same as one night at a luxury hotel,” read a Tesfaye statement included in the email.

“But that is hardly likely to encourage more (deported) people to travel home. We will now set about finding a cheaper alternative. Criminal foreigners are not welcome in Denmark. They must go home,” it continued.

“I’m prepared to go far to ensure that. But it must be through politics in which we spend sensibly,” the minister also wrote.

The now-scrapped plan would have placed up to 125 rejected asylum seekers and migrants with criminal records and in the process of being deported on the island.

“Unwanted” migrants to be accommodated there would have included those with criminal records in the process of being deported.

Reasons for being unable to deport an individual include that person being stateless or because no readmission arrangement exists between Denmark and their home country.


Annual expenses per resident would be 1 million kroner on Lindholm compared to 300,000 kroner at existing deportation facilities, according to the immigration ministry.

The government is now set to explore cheaper options.

An agreement to scrap the Lindholm plan was made as far back in June, when the Social Democrats secured parliamentary backing from other left-wing parties prior to forming government. But the decision was not made official until Thursday’s announcement.

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Denmark scraps plan for Langeland expulsion centre

The government late on Tuesday announced it will not go ahead with plans to open a so-called departure or expulsion centre on Langeland, in the face of fierce opposition in parliament and from the island's local community.

Denmark scraps plan for Langeland expulsion centre
Langelændere (people from Langeland) demonstrate on Tuesday against the now-scrapped plans for a departure centre on their island. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Proposed last week, the centre would have housed people with ‘tolerated stay’ (tålt ophold) status, who do not have permission to reside in Denmark but cannot be deported by force. The planned facility was for around 130 accommodate foreign nationals with criminal records who have served their sentences but are awaiting deportation.

The persons who would have been moved to the centre will therefore remain for the time being at a similar facility at Kærshovedgård in Jutland. That centre also houses people who have not committed crimes but have no legal right to stay in Denmark, for example due to a rejected asylum claim.


Opposition parties opposed the Langeland plan following its announcement last week, calling for the centre to be located more remotely. Langeland residents also resisted it, both during a visit to the island last week by immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye and in a demonstration at the Christiansborg parliament on Tuesday.

The centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF), which is the party of Langeland’s mayor, also said it would block the plan, leaving the minority government without the parliamentary majority needed to push it through.

“It is very obvious that there’s a majority in parliament which is against the establishment of a new departure centre on Langeland,” Tesfaye told broadcaster DR on Tuesday evening.

“That’s a shame in my view, but I have also said from the start that I cannot not conjure up (the centre) against a majority in parliament, after all,” he added.

Cancellation of the plan means that the “status quo” of existing expulsion centres will continue, the minister confirmed.

As such the 130 persons who would have been moved to Langeland will now remain at the Kærshovedgård centre.

In a statement, Tesfaye said that he would welcome suggestions from the other parties for alternative locations.

“You have to say that the situation has changed. We are now in a situation in which parliament wants influence (over the issue),” he told DR.

“If you take control over an issue, you also take responsibility,” he added.

Since winning the election in 2019, the Social Democratic government has generally worked with right-wing parties to pass laws related to immigration, rather than its established allies on the left, the so-called ‘red bloc’.