Christiania plan could push drug crime into other parts of Copenhagen: MP

Ritzau/AFP/The Local
Ritzau/AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Christiania plan could push drug crime into other parts of Copenhagen: MP
Moderate party MP Nanna W. Gotfredsen, founder of a charity which gives legal support to marginalised people, says she is concerned about the possible wider impact of a legal crackdown on illegal drug trade in Christiania. Photo: Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix

A government plan to shut down the Christiania ‘Pusher Street’ market and double drug penalties in the zone risks pushing crime into other parts of Copenhagen, according to a spokesperson from coalition partner the Moderate party.


New measures expected to be implemented by the government to fight gang-related violence in Christiania could have a negative impact elsewhere in Copenhagen, a spokesperson from the Moderates said after the plan was announced on Wednesday.

The Moderate party’s spokesperson for marginalised groups, Nanna W. Gotfredsen, expressed concerns about the plan which was presented by the government her own party is a part of.

“When you intensify control, a spreading out occurs and that applies to trade, shootings and brutality alike,” she said.

“That’s why I’m very concerned about our capital, Copenhagen, and about Frederiksberg and outlying municipalities,” she said.

At a briefing on Wednesday, Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said that possession and sale of drugs is to be punishable by double sentences in specified areas including Copenhagen’s ‘freetown’ Christiania.

The new law will target a specially designated zone in which fines for possession will be doubled even for a first offence. Any subsequent offence will lead to an immediate prison sentence.

The Pusher Street market will meanwhile be closed permanently, Hummelgaard said.

The announcement by the government comes after a period of violence and shootings around the Pusher Street market. The market is known for its illicit cannabis trade and has been since the 1970s, but the increasing presence of organised crime groups has resulted in violence and shootings.


READ ALSO: Denmark to double drug penalties and close market in capital's 'Pusher Street'

Gotfredsen argued the proposed measures will hit buyers on Pusher Street disproportionately hard.

“I think it is inappropriate to use criminal punishment against people who at the most are taking a risk for their own sake,” she said.

The Moderate MP is the founder of Gadejuristen, a private organisation which offers legal counsel to marginalised people.

Her work with the organisation has involved campaigning for reduced punishments for people who suffer from drug addiction who are found in possession of small amounts of narcotics.

“My advice is to insist that we get an expert commission to give us help understanding how organised crime fits together,” she said.

Christiania is an autonomous "freetown" community for people devoted to a libertarian lifestyle, where decisions are taken collectively.

While soft drugs such as marijuana and hash are officially illegal, they are tolerated there, which has led to problems with drug trafficking and criminal gangs in the 34-hectare enclave.

Under Danish law, authorities have since 2019 been able to set up targeted zones where penalties are tougher than in the rest of the country.


They can be set up temporarily by the police in difficult neighbourhoods or at venues hosting major gatherings.

Hummelgaard was asked during Wednesday’s briefing for his thoughts on legalising the sale of cannabis as an alternative solution to increasing punishments and police powers.

“The must firstly and lastly be based on a medical discussion of how much it damages an individual,” he said.

With regard to punishing users, persons who have clear and long-term addiction should be given more lenient treatment which could entail a warning in the first instance, the government says. This will be made clear in the wording of the law according to Hummelgaard.

“It will be based on an assessment by the police,” he said, adding he did not believe this would create problems with properly enforcing the law.


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