Danish parliament launches impeachment trial for ex-minister

Danish parliament launches impeachment trial for ex-minister
Inger Støjberg in parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark's parliament on Tuesday referred a former minister to a rarely used special court over accusations that she broke the law when ordering the separation of asylum-seeking couples while in office.

The accusations against Inger Støjberg relate to a decision she made in 2016 as the Minister for Immigration.

Støjberg ordered immigration authorities to separate married couples if one of them was under the age of 18 in order to combat child marriages.

But according to the preliminary indictment passed in parliament on Tuesday, the decision constituted a “violation of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

This is only the third time since 1910 that a Danish politician has had to go before the country's Court of Impeachment, which tries ministers for malfeasance or negligence in the performance of their duties.

The last case was in 1993, dubbed “Tamilgate”, and was over the illegal freezing of family reunification for Tamil refugees. 

The decisions in 1987 and 1988 by former Justice Minister Erik Ninn-Hansen landed him a four-month suspended prison sentence. 

In 2016, 23 migrant couples, most of whom had a small age difference between them, were separated without individual examination of their case following instructions from the minister.

Støjberg served as Minister for Immigration from 2015 to 2019 in a centre-right government propped up by the populist anti-immigration right Danish People's Party (DF).

She helped tighten Denmark's restrictive immigration policy and touted the adoption of more than 110 legal amendments restricting the rights of foreigners. 

As an aggravating circumstance, when questioned in the committee of enquiry, she allegedly gave “incorrect or misleading information”, the indictment noted. 

The member of parliament, who resigned her position as vice-president of the Liberal Party, has however stated that she is wrongly accused. 

“A large majority finds me guilty, but unlike you, I know that I did not order anything illegal,” she told parliament. 

“I intervened and did what I maintain was the only politically and humanely right thing to do,” she said. 

While a large majority of parliament supported the indictment, Støjberg still has supporters among some members of her party, as well as former prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the two far-right parties DF and Nye Borgerlige (New Right).

The Court of Impeachment, consisting of up to 15 Supreme Court judges and a matching number of parliamentarians designated by parliament is expected to convene on the matter after the summer.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s former immigration minister to face impeachment trial

 


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.