Statewatch News online: Refugees - Denmark's track record

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Denmark's track record

Denmark's track record as a "progressive" member of the EU disappeared with the election of the new rightwing Anders Fogh Rasmussen government (liberal/conservative) and the extreme right wing populist Dansk Folkeparti (DF, Danish Peoples Party). Statewatch's Danish correspondent writes:

"this is already a reality in Denmark. It was adopted under the Aliens Act in May this year and was voted through by the Government (Liberal (V) and conservative (K)) supported by the Danish Peoples Party (DF).

What it means is that for up to seven years the police and security authorities can permanently evaluate the grounds for refugees status - has anything changed in the situation in their country of origin that in any way changes the basis upon which the original permission to stay was given? And if it has, the authorities must begin a process of reviewing and eventually withdrawing the refugee status. This can go on for up to seven years.

The question must be asked: Who wants to put an effort into a process which after six year and eight month suddenly will be stopped because the authorities evaluates the situation as normalised in the home country? Until this change after three years the temporary permission to stay became permanent.

The amendment was passed 31 May 2002 and was put into effect by 1 July 2002."

Loyalty oath to become a Dane

Statewatch bulletin, vol 12 no 5 (August - October 2002

As part of the spring deal between the new rightwing Anders Fogh Rasmussen government (liberal/conservative) and the extreme right wing populist Dansk Folkeparti (DF, Danish Peoples Party) regarding refugee and immigration policy (see Statewatch vol 12 no 1) a special declaration must now be signed by applicants to become Danish citizens.

In the declaration the applicant must sign the following general statement:

"I declare faith and loyalty toward Denmark and the Danish society and states willingness to abide by Danish law and respect fundamental Danish legal principles."

The oath of loyalty asks the applicant to list all criminal acts for which they have been convicted, whether in
Denmark or abroad. The oath then, extraordinarily, requires people to admit to offences which the police do
not know about (again in Denmark or back in their home country). The information provided may eventually
be handed over to the police for possible investigation and prosecution.

As a sign of the new political situation in Denmark - a dramatic move to the right since the elections last November - these changes in the procedure to apply for citizenship have raised few eyebrows or the public debate. In the parliament the Red-Green Alliance have taken up the implications of the oath of loyalty which are far-reaching. One problem is that it is not specified in what the consequences are of breaking the oath. When one is being accused of being disloyal to Denmark, what can one then do to defend oneself from accusations? Who is to decide that a person is disloyal? These are some of the questions raised with the Minister of Integration, Mr Bertel Haarder.

One of the few people outside the parliament to have taken up the issue is the former human rights commissioner for the Baltic Sea Area, Mr Ole Espersen. In a comment in the daily Information he writes:

"the document bears testimony of the xenophobia and mistrust which the government parties and Dansk Folkeparti so eagerly claims does not exist in Denmark "

The agreement between the government and DF also contains a number of demands which the applicant must
fulfil, such as the ability to speak Danish at the same level as the final exam in the basic school (by the age
of ten) and a knowledge of Danish history, culture and society at the same level.

Applications for citizenship will only be considered after nine trouble-free years of uninterrupted residence in the country. If a foreigner is married and, due to the partner's work has to leave the country for a period, this period is not included in the nine years. Added to this is a condition that the partner's work abroad is for Danish "interests", whatever that means.

The effects of this new procedure are already evident. Only about 900 people been granted citizenship and this is expected to be, at the most, a couple of thousand. This compares to 16,757 last year. 11,000 people, who were waiting to be processed, having completed their tests, have now received a letter telling them that their application have been nullified and that they must start all over again under the new rules.

see also, A hard time for refugees, Statewatch News online, February 2002: Denmark

For people with a knowledge of Danish the legislation and debates can be found on:

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