Denmark to seize refugees' property

Submitted by Matthew on 10 February, 2016 - 11:55 Author: Lisa Lindstrom

Refugees seeking asylum in Denmark will have their belongings confiscated by the police, in order to finance their own asylum process.

This is the result of the new “asylum package” bill, or the so-called “jewellery law”. The broad parliamentary agreement was proposed by the Danish right-wing liberal party Venstre, the right-wing parties in parliament including the Danish People’s Party and the Conservatives, and the Social Democrats.

The bill was put to a vote in the parliament, Folketing, on January 26 and will be in effect from February 5. The discussions on the Danish parliament’s new “asylum package” have been going on throughout November and reached an agreement on December 7 last year.

One of the consequences of the new law is giving Danish police the opportunity to search asylum seekers for money and valuable belongings of certain sizes and kinds. Asylum seekers are allowed to keep their phone, watch, personal belongings such as wedding rings, and up to 3,000 Danish Krone in cash (about £290). Everything else will be confiscated and sold in order to pay for “food and room” during the asylum process. Other parts of the new law will make it more difficult to obtain permanent residence permits and temporary residence permit will be shortened from five to two years.

Danish politics has seen a heavy upsurge in right-wing ideology in the past decade, and been known for their hard rules on immigrants and asylum seekers. Last autumn, the parliament decided to cut almost half of benefits given to newly arrived refugees. The argument put forward for this policy by integration minister Inger Støjberg was to motivate people coming to Denmark to start working.

Denmark has also since the early 2000s been one of the countries in Europe requiring a language test in order to become a Danish citizen, with the Danish test being ranked as the hardest one to pass. Left-wing critics of the Danish immigration policies include Danish parties Enhedslisten and Socialistisk Folkeparti. International critics include UN profiles Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon.