Denmark enacts controversial laws to confiscate valuables from refugees

27 Jan 16

The Danish parliament has voted to pass controversial laws enabling the confiscation of money and valuables from asylum seekers to help pay for their stay in the country.

Police will be able to search and seize cash and valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (€1,400) from refugees arriving in the country to cover food and housing costs and refugees will be prevented from applying for family members to join them for three years.

The Danish government asserts that the new law is in line with welfare rules for Danish citizens, who must sell assets worth more than 10,000 kroner before they can receive state benefits.

The laws will be restricted to non-essential items and items that do not have sentimental value to their owner, such as wedding rings.

The legislation also includes several other measures regarding asylum seekers, for example limiting temporary residence permits to two years.

While following similar measures in Switzerland and southern Germany, the law has drawn international criticism. John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia director of Amnesty International, said the legislation would prolong the suffering of vulnerable people who have been ripped from their families by conflict or persecution.

“[This] mean-spirited vote in the Danish parliament seeks not only to pilfer the possessions refugees cling to, but also to needlessly lengthen their separation from their loved ones. This is a sad reflection of how far Denmark has strayed from its historic support of international norms enshrined in the Refugee Convention.

“European states must stop this dismal race to the bottom and begin to meet their international obligations, by upholding refugees’ human rights and dignity. Anything less is a betrayal of our common humanity.”

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