Denmark wants to bar life sentence prisoners from online dating

Denmark wants to bar life sentence prisoners from online dating
A new Danish bill could restrict the rights of prisoners on long term sentences from establishing new relationships online. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
Convicted criminals serving life sentences should be restricted from coming into contact with the outside world by using social media and preventing from freely discussing their crimes publicly, Denmark’s Ministry of Justice said on Wednesday.

The government has drafted a bill including six proposals which it says would limit the ability of people with life sentences from “dating or giving publicity to their crimes, for example on social media”, the ministry said in a statement.

 

The proposal would also apply to specified people in safe custody (forvaring in Danish), a type of sentence which keeps them imprisoned with no time limit for as long as they are deemed dangerous.

 

The ministry said it wants to deny prisoners serving such sentences the opportunity to “engage in new relationships” during the first 10 years of their sentences.

 

Current rules enable prison inmates serving life to write to, call and receive visits from people with whom they have established contact during their sentences.

 

“Life sentencers, and people in safe custody who have been given a punishment that could extend to life in prison, should not be able to use our prisons as a dating central or media platform to boast about their crimes,” Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup said in the statement.

 

“Recent years have seen distasteful examples of inmates who have committed vile crimes gaining contact with very young people to get their sympathy and attention,” Hækkerup added.

 

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In addition to restricting the dating life of criminals serving long term sentences, the proposal would also ban them from speaking freely in public about their crimes if, for example, public discussion could cause harm to victims.

 

That would effectively ban them from activities such as featuring on podcasts or writing about their crimes on social media.

 

The bill, which would need parliamentary backing to become law, could come into effect on January 1st 2022.

 

Conservative parties in the opposition ‘blue bloc’ in parliament on Wednesday expressed initial support for the bill.

 

Justice spokespersons from the Liberal, Conservative and Danish People’s parties all signalled their backing in comments reported by news wire Ritzau.

 

“We have seen far too many cases where it has been most distasteful how it’s been possible to communicate with the outside world from prison, and life sentencers have been able to describe their crimes in the press. That must end,” Liberal justice spokesperson Preben Bang Henriksen said.

 

University of Copenhagen professor Jens Elo Rytter, a human rights specialist, gave newspaper B.T. an appraisal of the proposal.

 

“The ban on establishing new relationships would intervene in the prisoner’s private life and the ban on public statements about one’s crimes, as I understand it in any possible way, including on social media, could raise questions about censorship,” Rytter said.

 

The left-wing Socialist People’s Party (SF), a parliamentary ally to the government, said it would prefer to target individuals who create problems, rather than implement a law that impacts all prisoners serving long term sentences.

 

“The rules should not apply to life sentence prisoners who are serving their sentences in a normal and quiet way,” SF justice spokesperson Karina Lorentzen said in a written statement to Ritzau.


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