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Danish citizenship applications rejected over traffic offences

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Danish citizenship applications rejected over traffic offences
Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix
14:12 CEST+02:00
The Danish parliament’s citizenship committee (Indfødsretsudvalget) has rejected a number of applications because of previous traffic convictions, according to a report.

Prior to this year’s election, the committee generally approved the applications of the majority of people who had speeding fines on their record.

But 29 have been rejected since the election based on traffic convictions, Politiken reports on Wednesday.

The decisions have been criticized as an “absurdity”; the newspaper writes.

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Fines for breaking traffic laws have previously been considered to be under the limit of what is considered a serious enough transgression to justify rejection of a citizenship application which meets all other criteria.

A parliamentary majority therefore agreed in 2018 to enable the citizenship committee to vote on – and approve – such an application, by giving dispensation from a rule which prevents applicants with any kind of conviction from being granted citizenship for four and a half years from the time of the offence.

But in 29 cases assessed since the election, the committee did not grant that dispensation whereby the applicant had a previous traffic offence on record, Politiken reports based on a summary submitted to the committee by Mattias Tesfaye, the Minister for Immigration and Integration.

Red Green Aliance spokesperson on the issue Peder Hvelplund criticized the matter, in comments given to Politiken.

The figures show “completely clearly that the whole system around citizenship is full of absurdity and arbitrariness,” Hvelplund said.

According to a separate committee response from Tesfaye, dispensation was given in a higher proportion of similar cases – albeit not all cases – between July 2018 and July 2019.

That demonstrates the arbitrary nature of the decision-making, Hvelplund said.

“A majority has previously decided that these traffic offences should be assessed [for dispensation, ed.] because a majority agreed that if you’ve had a traffic fine it shouldn’t necessarily have the consequence that you can’t get citizenship. Since the election, we have seen a new majority in the committee which appears to have taken a different view, and that means we are still being presented with these cases but they are now all being rejected,” he told Politiken.

Because Danish citizenship can only be granted to foreign nationals via legal nationalization, applications must be voted through by parliament. As such, the parliamentary committee is responsible for reviewing dispensation cases.

The 17-member committee currently has 6 Social Democratic representatives, while the Liberal party has 4 and Danish People’s Party 2. All other parties have 1 member each, with the exception of Liberal Alliance and Alternative, which are not represented.

Voting within the committee takes place confidentially, Politiken reports.

Social Democrat citizenship spokesperson Rasmus Stoklund did not tell the newspaper how he had voted, but said his view was that “there should be very good reasons for giving dispensation.”

“If it was up to me – and it’s not just up to me – I think we could be stricter on some areas. We could, for example, set a rule that if you have driven too fast through road works, we don’t need to see the dispensation application, because it will be a rejection,” Stoklund said.

 
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