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EU court to judge residents’ discrimination case against Danish government

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
EU court to judge residents’ discrimination case against Danish government
Mjølnerparken in December 2019. A number of residents facing eviction from the housing area have taken their case to the European Court. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix

Residents from the Copenhagen housing area Mjølnerparken will have a case of potential discrimination against them tested by the EU Court.

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In the case, the Court of Justice of the European Union will assess whether the Danish state breached the residents’ rights not to be discriminated against based on their ethnicity, as well as their right to a home.

If the court finds in their favour, the residents could be protected under EU law.

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The Danish high court Østre Landsret decided to send the case, brought by the residents against the Ministry of Housing and the Interior, to the EU Court.

That decision was made on Monday, Eddie Omar Rosenberg Khawaja, the lawyer representing the group, told news wire Ritzau.

“What the high court has decided is that the question of whether there was differential treatment based on ethnicity should go to the EU Court,” he said.

“It is in that respect that the EU Court will clarify whether the criteria applied in the ghetto laws, which affect – not ethnicity directly – but the question of immigrants and their descendants from non-Western countries – are covered by anti-discrimination laws in the EU Court,” he said.

READ ALSO: ‘Ghetto’ tenants sue Denmark over forced eviction plan

The “Ghetto Law”, first passed by parliament in 2018, includes several measures intended to combat what are considered to be parallel societies in underprivileged neighbourhoods.

The neighbourhoods were formerly officially termed “ghettos”, but this wording has now been scrapped and replaced with “parallel societies”.

Under the law, underprivileged areas with a high “non-Western” population must implement redevelopment plans if they fulfil a number of social criteria. The redevelopments can mean some residents are forced to move from subsidised rental housing.

READ ALSO: Danish court rejects tenants’ discrimination appeal against eviction

The Mjølnerparken residents will have to be patient, given the lawyer said he expects a ruling in December 2024. After this, the case will be returned to the Danish court system.

The basis of the case is the residents’ belief that a redevelopment plan, which requires them to move, discriminates against them because of their ethnicity.

While a wait for an outcome of the case against the ministry is likely to be long, eviction notices against Mjølnerparken residents are continually being brought before the Housing Court, Boligretten, to challenge their validity, Khawaja said.

“But that obviously leaves the residents in limbo for a long time because the high court, presumably after 2024, would have to address whether the ministry’s approval of the redevelopment plan for Mjølnerparken is legal,” he said.

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