Sunday

22nd Jul 2018

Danish plan to seize refugees' jewellery prompts controversy

  • Asylum seekers in Sweden: scenes the Danish government would like to avoid (Photo: atranswe)

Denmark’s minority government has come under fire for plans to seize migrants' valuables to cover the costs of their stay in the country and to dissuade others from coming.

An online petition against the initiative entitled "No to the confiscation of migrants' valuables" had garnered almost 15,000 signatures by Tuesday (22 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The proposed measure was likened to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews in the second world war and has prompted an MEP to quit the ruling party.

The government’s proposal, part of a bigger asylum package presented to the parliament on 10 December, states that normally watches and mobile phones should not be seized, but cash above 3,000 Danish kroner (€436) and jewels can be confiscated.

The proposed bill allows police to search the clothes and luggage of asylum seekers - and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark - with a view to finding assets.

If a migrant choses to withdraw the application for asylum, the valuables should be returned. If the asylum seeker becomes well-to-do after international protection was granted, the new valuables can also be seized.

Valuables with “certain personal, sentimental value to a foreigner will not, as a main rule, be seized,” the proposal notes.

However, they may be taken away if, taking into account the degree of personal, sentimental value and the economic value of the assets, “it is deemed inappropriate not to seize the assets.”

Most asylum seekers sell everything back home to make the dangerous journey to Europe, but are often viewed in Europe with suspicion for having smart phones.

Meanwhile, Danish police have themselves rejected the government idea.

“I can't imagine that we would go in and take away, for example wedding rings from refugees who come to the country,” the chairman of the Police Federation, Claus Oxfeldt told Denmarks Radio.

He said it is not the job of police officers to assess the value of, for example refugees’ clothing or jewellery.

“We are not able to assess whether a ring has a value of 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 [Danish] kroner,” said Claus Oxfeldt.

However, the Danish minister for integration said the principle of the proposal also applies to Danes.

“There is no reason to criticise, since it is already the case that if you as a Dane have valuables for more than 10,000 kroner (€1,340) it may be required that this is sold before you can receive benefits,” Inger Stojberg was quoted as saying by AFP.

The planned measure is supported by the populist, anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DPP), which backs the centre-right minority government, and which says the move is aimed at stopping people from coming to Denmark.

"The signal is important. Basically we are saying that if you want to come to Europe you should stay clear of Denmark because we have a lot of problems with migrants and ... we don't need any more in Denmark," Martin Henriksen of the Danish People's Party (DPP) told AFP.

The bill will be voted on in January in the 179-seat parliament, and would come into force in February.

A Danish MEP already left the ruling party in protest.

"Denmark is currently experiencing a norm and value shift that I find deeply worrying," Jens Rohde of the Venstre party wrote on the website of daily Politiken. He is joining the centrist Danish Social Liberal Party.

The proposal is the latest attempt by Copenhagen to avoid the kind of refugee influx seen in neighbouring Sweden, where 150,000 people applied for asylum this year.

Other measures include shortening residence permits, delaying family reunifications, and placing ads in Lebanese newspapers to deter migrants.

Denmark expects to receive around 20,000 asylum seekers this year, compared to 15,000 last year. In total 5.039 persons applied for asylum in November 2015, the highest number in any month of the year, official figures released on Monday showed.

Earlier this month, Danes voted in a referendum to reject a government proposal on adopting the EU's justice rules.

Sweden reintroduces border controls

Sweden becomes fourth EU and Schengen state to introduce emergency border controls, citing overwhelming migrant numbers. Denmark could be next.

Sweden to tap Hungary's EU relocation quota

Sweden, which hosts the most asylum seekers per capita, has asked other EU states to relocate some people under a quota originally designed for Hungary.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us