Raids without warrants: Denmark unveils tough new anti-jihadist proposals

The government is to work for tough new laws on citizens convicted of foreign militant activity, but is likely to be challenged by parties to its left.

Raids without warrants: Denmark unveils tough new anti-jihadist proposals
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks to police officers during a visit to Aalborg on Thursday. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, along with Minister of Justice Nick Hækkerup and Minister for Immigration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye, were on Thursday scheduled to present the government's proposals to introduce stricter rules against what it terms “foreign fighters” (fremmedkrigere).

According to reports in Danish media on Thursday, those proposals include a ban on entering Denmark as well as a contact ban for persons convicted of terrorism.

Additionally, the government will be able to give full custody to the non-convicted parent in cases where a parent is convicted as a foreign militant.

This means that, should the proposals become law, police will be able to enter homes without a warrant in order to check compliance with bans against contacting specified individuals.


Kristian Hegaard, spokesperson for justice with the Social Liberal party, a parliamentary ally of the governing Social Democrats, criticized the proposal prior to its official presentation on Thursday.

“This has no place in a country which has the rule of law. Coercive interventions must be approved by a judge based on suspicions,” Hegaard said.

“I am concerned about whether this is a trend we are going to see for more types of crime, where police will be able enter people’s homes without a court warrant,” he continued.

“We must maintain the values we associate with the rule of law. Without exception,” he also said.

The proposal to remove custody from one or both parents convicted of fighting for foreign militant groups has also been criticized by the left.

According to the new proposals, such convictions will allow authorities to give sole custody of children to the non-convicted parent. If both parents are convicted, the child or children will be placed into foster care.

Pernille Skipper, lead political spokesperson with the Red Green Alliance, called this approach wrong.

“If a person is convicted of a serious crime – whether that is foreign militancy or a violent break-in – there is a mechanism for the municipality or experts to assess whether their children are doing okay at home,” Skipper said.

“But to say that a conviction means an automatic forced removal of children from their parents – that has no place in a democratic society,” she said.

Last year, parliament passed a highly-debated, expedited law which enables the immigration minister to revoke without legal process the passports of citizens who have fought for militant groups abroad. Individuals can appeal against the decision through the courts.

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.

The law allows the government to strip passports and rights from Danes who have, for example, fought for militant group Islamic State (Isis) in Syria.

Three people with dual citizenship have had their Danish passports revoked under the law since it came into force.


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Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links

Six men suspected of being members of the so-called Islamic State (Isis) group or funding it were arrested in an anti-terror raid in Denmark on Tuesday, police said.

Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The suspects, whose identities were not disclosed, are aged between 27 and 35, police in East Jutland said.

Two of the suspects were arrested in the Danish capital Copenhagen and the four others in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-biggest city.

“Two of the people arrested, a man aged 29 from the region of Aarhus and a 30-year-old man living in Copenhagen, are suspected of penal code violations… for having travelled to Syria in 2014, where they were recruited by the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” police said in a statement.

The 29-year-old is also suspected of having tried to return to Syria in early 2015 to rejoin Isis.

Under his instruction, the four other suspects are accused of having acted as “intermediaries” and having sent money to the organisation.

According to Danish intelligence service PET, at least 160 people have travelled from Denmark to fight in Syria or Iraq. About a third of them have been killed in action, 32 are still there and around half of them have either returned to Denmark or another country.

Jihadism is considered the biggest threat to Denmark’s national security, according to PET.