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Denmark passes law enabling withdrawal of jihadists' citizenship

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Denmark passes law enabling withdrawal of jihadists' citizenship
Immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye speaks to Nye Borgelige (New Right) leader Pernille Vermund earlier this month. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix
12:23 CEST+02:00
An expedited bill, enabling the immigration minister to revoke the passports of Danes who join foreign militant groups, was passed by parliament on Thursday.

The law is aimed primarily at individuals who have fought for the Islamic State (Isis) terror group in Syria and Iraq.

All parties on the right voted in favour of the bill, as did the governing Social Democrats. Left-of-centre parties the Social Liberals, Red Green Alliance and Alternative voted against, while the Socialist People’s Party abstained.

Passing of the bill makes it possible for Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye to strip individuals termed ‘foreign fighters’ (fremmedkrigere) of citizenship without trial.

READ ALSO: Should Danish parliament have power to revoke passports?

Individuals stripped of their passports under the law will be given a four-week window in which they can appeal against the decision.

A number of objections had been raised over the process the law provides for, including that a person can simply be informed their passport has been withdrawn via Denmark’s secure email system, e-boks, potentially while they are in a conflict zone.

A provision has now been included to enable dispensation to be applied for if the four-week deadline for appeal is not met.

“It will be viewed as being that if you can’t (appeal) on time, you will be able to exceed the four-week deadline and it will ultimately be a judge that decides whether it was out of your control to appeal by the deadline,” Tesfaye said to DR Nyheder on Wednesday.

During the first reading of the bill on Wednesday, a majority emerged in favour of a so-called ‘sundown clause’, which puts an expiration date – summer 2021 – on the law, by which time parliament will have to vote to re-pass it.

“We proposed a bill without a sundown clause but received a large number of responses during the hearing period from organizations that felt it was a good idea,” Tesfaye told Ritzau on Wednesday.

“That’s way I decided to include the clause, so as many as possible can back the bill. That means that, by the end of the next parliamentary period in summer 2021, we must reconfirm the law,” he continued.

“We will then be in a situation whereby we can assess how the law has worked. Perhaps there will be a need to adjust a little,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark to strip jihadists of nationality amid fear of returns

 
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