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Denmark apologises for decades of abuse of people with disabilities

AFP
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Denmark apologises for decades of abuse of people with disabilities
Danish social minister Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil and former prime minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen were present as the government officially apologised for decades of mistreatment of people with disabilities. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish government offered an apology Monday to thousands of people with disabilities who were abused in state-run facilities, including with forced sterilisations or sexual assaults, beginning in the 1930s.

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From 1933 to 1980, around 15,000 children and adults with disabilities including blindness, epilepsy and physical or mental handicaps were committed to the centres for various periods of time, amid claims of protecting society, according to researchers who studied their cases.

Danish law imposed sterilisations for psychiatric patients from 1929 to 1967, and until 1989 they had to obtain permission from the authorities to marry.

An inquiry ordered by the previous Danish government in 2020 found a series of abuses at the centres that also included violence, psychological and sexual abuse, and serious flaws in medical treatments.

"The state had... an obligation of oversight, and did not sufficiently do its job," social affairs minister Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil told a group of
around 50 victims from the period in Jutland city Horsens.

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"In the name of the Danish state, in the name of the government: Sorry," she said.

"What happened to you is far below the Denmark we believe in. We will never forget what happened to you -- and what happened to you will never happen again."

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