Denmark passes bill on seizing valuables from refugees

Denmark’s parliament passes new asylum policy which includes confiscation of valuables, delays on family reunifications

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Denmark's Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen and Denmark's Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Stojberg give a news conference after a meeting on the new Danish asylum laws in Brussels, Belgium, January 25, 2016

Danish lawmakers passed measures on Tuesday aimed at limiting refugee rights, as some laws include the confiscation of valuables and three years of family reunification delays.

After a three and a half hour debate, the bill passed with an overwhelming majority, backed by the main centre-left opposition party Social Democrats, despite opposing voices from small left-wing parties, including from Red Green Alliance.

Denmark recently tightened its borders, but the country believes the new laws are still necessary to limit the flow of refugees.

The proposal which allows police to seize valuables and cash from refugees to help pay for their stay in asylum centres has produced international outrage, rights activists have also criticised a three-year-delay policy for family reunifications on the grounds that it breaches international conventions.

The Washington Post had criticised the plan claiming it to be similar to when the Nazis confiscated large amounts of gold and valuables from Jews.

Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called it “the most misunderstood bill in Denmark’s history.”

Although the proposed amount was initially 3,000 kroner, refugees will be handing over cash exceeding 10,000 kroner (1,340 EUR) and any item that is valued more than that amount., wedding rings and any other items of sentimental value will be exempt.

The aim of the new policy is for the country to become significantly less attractive for asylum-seekers, an immigration hardliner stated.

Refugees escaping from war would face “an impossible choice” if the waiting period was increased from one year to three before they can apply to bring over their families, Amnesty International said.

Gauri van Gulik, deputy Europe director of Amnesty International, said that  “Either bring children and other loved ones on dangerous, even lethal journeys, or leave them behind and face a prolonged separation.”

Denmark had 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, putting it far behind the 163,000 registered in neighbouring Sweden.

Denmark received international criticism on Tuesday’s vote from refugee agency UNHCR, claiming it violates the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Refugee Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

TRTWorld and agencies