21st Mar 2018

Charges await Danes and Germans for helping refugees

  • Transporting refugees out of compassion, even inside Denmark, is considered migrant smuggling. (Photo: Jan Kuntra)

People in Denmark and Germany helping to transport refugees in displays of compassion are increasingly likely to be charged.

Last week, Denmark's High Court upheld a migrant smuggling conviction after a Danish couple drove a Syrian refugee family from the south of Denmark to Copenhagen.

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The couple were fined €6,000 in March after having made the trip last September.

They appealed but the High Court upheld the conviction and then increased the fine to €6,700.

“We’ve been prosecuted because we gave a family coffee and cookies, and transported them to a railway station,” the couple told the UK daily, The Independent.

The couple did not believe they had violated any laws given the car lift was made within the country.

Similar moves are being made elsewhere.

In Germany, a left-wing MP is likely to face prosecution for helping reunite a child asylum seeker with his father.

Dieter Dehm, from the Left party, admitted to media that he drove the child from Italy to Germany. The boy, who said his mother had died, had crossed the Mediterranean in an effort to reach his father.

As an MP, Dehm has immunity from prosecution. But earlier this week, German prosecutors requested it be lifted.

According to the head of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, the MP could face 10 years in jail.

Earlier this year, a retired British soldier turned aid worker stood trial in France after he was caught trying to help an infant Afghan girl get to her family in Britain.

Rob Lawrie was facing five years in jail, but was released with a lesser charge and fined €1,000.

He had been caught late last year trying to smuggle the four-year-old girl from Calais by hiding her in his van.

The individual prosecutions stand in stark contrast to the actions of some governments, which offload migrants en masse to other states.

Hungary's government, for instance, provided buses to refugees in their effort to reach Austria from Budapest.

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