Greenlanders demand compensation over Danish adoptions

AFP - [email protected]
Greenlanders demand compensation over Danish adoptions
Greenland's flag in the capital Nuuk. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

A group of Greenland-born people have sought compensation from Denmark over allegations the state facilitated their illegal adoption by Danish families starting in the 1950s, their lawyer said on Friday.


Greenland was a colony of Denmark but has been autonomous since 1979, and relations between them are shadowed by their past.

Lawyer Mads Pramming told radio P1 that four of his Greenland-born clients have sought compensation of 250,000 kroner ($35,800) each on accusations the Danish authorities knowingly facilitated their adoptions.

"These Greenlanders thought they had placed their children in foster care, but they had not realised that was for life and they would not see their children again," Pramming said in the P1 interview.

In a 2020 interview, former head of Greenland's social services Alfred Dam compared the situation on the island in the 1960s to "self-service."

"Adoptions often unfolded in this way: the local doctor would tell a woman: 'You can't look after another child, you already have five in your care. Why not give it up for adoption?'", Dam said.


"She would reply: 'Aap' -- yes in Greenlandic. She would then be told where to sign. She would sign off on never seeing her child again," he added.

In recent years, Denmark has been working to mend its strained relationship with the Arctic island, which received autonomous territory status in 2009.

In 2022, Denmark issued apologies to six Inuits and approved reparations for them, more than 70 years after they were separated from their families and enrolled in an experiment meant to create a Danish-speaking elite in Greenland.

More than 140 Greenlandic women sued the Danish state in March for forcing them to have a coil, or intrauterine device (IUD), fitted in the 1960s and 1970s even though many were barely teens.

Denmark had carried out the campaign quietly, without the women's consent or even knowledge in some cases, to limit the birth rate in the Arctic territory, which was no longer a colony at the time but still under Danish control.



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