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EU-United They Stand? Denmark approves law to seize refugees’ assets, delay family reunion

Danish parliament approved a law allowing the state to seize assets and valuables from refugees along with other measures to deter migration. The law allows police to search asylum seekers to secure cash and valuables. In the mind of the Danish lawmakers, in this way the cost of the refugees would be covered.

“Any non-essential items worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner (about £1,000) that have no sentimental value to their owner.”

From what we read on international media, it is not clear what the Danish Law foresees for refugees with no valuables or nothing to be seized and whether the Danish state will give them back their seized assets in case it rejects their asylum application.

The law also prevents family reunion: refugees will be preventing from applying to be reunited with their children for three years, and will only give war refugees from Syria a single year of protection.

Denmark refugees

Keep granny’s ring but drop in the kid’s teddy

Denmark has become the latest European state to force refugees to hand over their valuables, with the continent increasingly using scare tactics and physical deterrents to deal with the biggest migration crisis since the second world war.

Denmark has followed similar moves in Switzerland and southern Germany.

The bill presented by the centre-right minority government of the prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was approved after almost four hours of debate by 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats and two small rightwing parties backed the measures.

“There’s no simple answer for a single country, but until the world comes together on a joint solution [to the migrant crisis], Denmark needs to act,” MP Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of Rasmussen’s Venstre party said during the debate.

The Danish government says the procedure is to cover the cost of each asylum seeker’s treatment by the state, and mimics treatment of Danish citizens on welfare benefits.

The UN has nevertheless called the move concerning and regrettable, while an opposition party termed it “morally horrible”.

“An academic specialist confirmed that Danes are expected to use their own income before claiming benefits, but pointed out that except in rare occasions police do not have the right to search Danish welfare claimants.”

Earlier this month, government spokesman Marcus Knuth told the Guardian it was “ludicrous” to compare the new law to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust, since similar laws apply to Danish citizens on welfare benefits. “We’re simply applying the same rules we apply to Danish citizens who wish to take money from the Danish government,” Knuth said.

But opponents of the law argue that while refugees can in general still expect to be treated humanely in Denmark, the new legislation is ethically unsound. Pernille Skipper, an MP and legal affairs spokesperson for Enhedslisten, a leftwing Danish party, said: “Morally it is a horrible way to treat people fleeing mass crimes, war, rapes. They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery.”

Klaus Petersen, professor at the Centre for Welfare State Research at the University of Southern Denmark, confirmed that Danish welfare claimants have to give up their savings before they receive benefits – but not their valuables, unlike refugees. They will also not be searched except in rare circumstances.

Denmark accepted about 20,000 asylum seekers in 2015 – 2% of the total to arrive in Europe last year. (more information on Guardian)

It started with the first fence, it continues with stripping war victims of their assets.

There goes the Europe of Humanism we used to love and respect.

PS as a Greek all I have to say is: Beware of Danes Granting Asylum.

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7 comments

  1. “Klaus Petersen, professor at the Centre for Welfare State Research at the University of Southern Denmark, confirmed that Danish welfare claimants have to give up their savings before they receive benefits – but not their valuables, unlike refugees.”

    Wrong! Danish welfare claimants will have to give up their valuables. If one owns a car, a home, paintings etc. one will be forced to sell and spend the money before receiving benefits.

    “They will also not be searched except in rare circumstances.”

    Right! They will not be searched by the police. It isn’t necessary because the state has the right to se what one owns, how much money one has in the bank etc.

  2. As with almost everything thing being done in Northern Europe, this atrocity is considered to be illegal by Europe’s leading lawyers. For the detailed analysis, see http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/can-member-states-seize-asylum-seekers.html

    • Postscript. For clarity, I should explain that Denmark has an opt-out of the relevant migration legislation, and this policy is not illegal in Denmark but would be in all other EU countries (including the UK). This makes it all the more despicable, that the Danes think they can cheat the system and abuse human rights at the same time.
      @
      It is also a very strong argument that no country should be allowed opt-outs of crucial EU policies. If they cannot agree to go along with the majority view, they should leave the EU. We will not miss Denmark. (The UK leaving, on the other hand, would be a disaster for both the EU and the UK.)

      • It might be a disaster for the EU but it certainly wouldn’t be a disaster for the UK.

        • Ha! The clear threats have already been made by EU countries that the UK would not be given an easy ride if it left. Moreover, the EU itself would be badly damaged. No, you are deluded if you think that Brexit is a sensible idea: it is an idea held by fanatics and idiots. and opposed by all those with real experience and knowledge of the modern world.

      • Giaourti Giaourtaki

        The UK will come back after they accept European rules and stop driving on the wrong side.

  3. Don’t be supprised if they take their gold fillings from their teeth next.