The Danish Parliament approved a law on Thursday (3) which allows the removal of asylum seekers from the country, who should await the analysis of their requests in “reception centers” in other nations, probably in Africa .
The measure contravenes the principles of international cooperation in matters of asylum, according to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization, said sending asylum seekers to a third country was “illegal and unscrupulous”.
A country that has been one of the most progressive in welcoming refugees – the first country to sign the United Nations Refugee Convention in 1951 – Denmark today has one of the strictest policies of the European Union in matters of immigration, despite its minister of the zone, the social democrat Mattias Tesfaye, is himself the son of an Ethiopian immigrant.
Two months ago, the Danish government declared the area around Damascus, the capital of Syria, “safe for the return of refugees”. As a result, he revoked the residence permits of 94 Syrian refugees, despite reports of violence in their country of origin, where the war left 500,000 dead. Another 500 cases need to be reassessed.
In an effort to avoid Islamic radicalization, the government has also moved immigrants to neighborhoods in several Danish cities. For the same reason, last month he changed his mind and decided to repatriate the so-called “Islamic State wives” (European girls who were co-opted by the terrorist group, often under false promises of good living conditions).
Denmark did not specify with which countries reception centers are being negotiated, but said “transfers of asylum seekers will be made in accordance with international obligations”. Under the new law, approved by 70 votes to 24, if the asylum application is not accepted, the third country will be responsible for the refugee’s deportation.
The Danish government has said the aim is to discourage immigrant travel to Europe, which often ends in shipwrecks and deaths. “You will know that you will be returned to a country outside of Europe and therefore we hope that people will stop seeking asylum in Denmark,” government immigration spokesman Rasmus Stoklund told media national.
The European Commission (EU Executive Branch) itself, however, is struggling to reduce the flow of people without fighting the so-called “coyotes”, who organize illegal entries, and without investing in better conditions in their home countries. origin. The Commission is working on a plan to try to standardize immigration and asylum rules in the European bloc, a project made more difficult by the new Danish law.
On Thursday, the agency said it shared UNHCR’s concerns and saw the measurement as “fundamental questions about access to asylum and protection.” According to the spokesperson in charge of the case, Adalbert Jahnz, sending asylum seekers to another country “is not possible under EU rules, neither under those that already exist nor under the new pact for migration and asylum that is proposed.
The solution now approved by the Danish Parliament had already been discussed in the EU after the migration crisis of 2015 and 2016, but was abandoned for legal, humanitarian, political, security and financial reasons. The pressure has since eased, although governments fear that the crisis caused by the pandemic could reactivate the influx of refugees.
In Denmark, after a peak of 21,000 asylum applications in 2015, the number gradually fell to around 1,500 in 2020. Two years ago, however, when refugee arrivals were the lowest in 30 years and the employment rates, as education and language skills increased, the government replaced long-term integration efforts and equal rights with temporary stays, limited rights and a focus on deportation.
According to Michala Clante Bendixen, national coordinator for Denmark of the European Commission’s European site on integration, this change has come under pressure from the far-right Danish People’s Party. Although the xenophobic party is not part of the government, its lawmakers subject the approval of any bill to measures restricting the rights of foreigners.
The Social Democrats, who compete with the right for the workers’ vote, have taken the hard line. “Today the Danish People’s Party has almost become redundant. Their policies, previously denounced as racist and extremist, have now become predominant, ”writes the expert.