COPENHAGEN, June 3 (Reuters) – Denmark on Thursday passed a law allowing it to treat asylum seekers outside Europe, angering human rights defenders, the United Nations and the European Commission.
By Nikolaj Skydsgaard
The wealthy Scandinavian nation, which has gained notoriety for its intransigent immigration policies over the past decade, passed the law with 70 lawmakers voting for and 24 against.
The legislation will complicate the European Union’s efforts to overhaul Europe’s fragmented migration and asylum rules, an extremely controversial topic within the bloc.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, has questioned the compatibility of the law with Denmark’s international obligations.
“The external processing of asylum applications raises fundamental questions concerning both access to asylum procedures and effective access to protection,” said Commission spokesperson Adalbert Jahnz.
“This is not possible within the framework of existing European rules or the proposals of the new pact for migration and asylum,” he added.
Denmark already has one of the toughest positions in Europe on immigration and aims to only accept refugees under the UN quota system.
The new law will allow Denmark to move refugees arriving on Danish soil to asylum centers in a partner country to have their cases examined and possibly obtain protection there.
“If you apply for asylum in Denmark, you know that you will be sent back to a country outside of Europe, and therefore we hope that people will stop seeking asylum in Denmark,” the party spokesman said on Thursday. government official on immigration, Rasmus Stoklund, on DR radio. .
Denmark has yet to reach an agreement with a partner country, but Stoklund said he was negotiating with several candidate countries.
In April, Danish Immigration Minister Mattias Tesfaye, whose father was an Ethiopian immigrant, traveled to Rwanda for an unannounced visit to the central African country, which led to the signing of diplomatic agreements. on asylum and political issues.
Tesfaye later said it was too early to name specific partner countries, but Denmark, along with Austria, has already pledged to support a UN-run refugee camp in Rwanda set up to welcome refugees stranded in Libya.
EU countries discussed the creation of such external centers in 2016-18 after a peak of arrivals in the Mediterranean overwhelmed the bloc. Legal, humanitarian, political, security and financial concerns overshadowed the proposals at the time.
Critics fear that moving the asylum process to countries with fewer resources could jeopardize the safety and well-being of refugees and compromise their human rights.
“The idea of outsourcing the responsibility for processing asylum seekers’ asylum claims is both irresponsible and lacks solidarity,” Charlotte Slente, general secretary of the Danish Refugee Council, an NGO, told Reuters. .
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned last month that Denmark’s move could trigger a “race to the bottom” if other countries follow suit.
“Such practices violate the rights of those who seek safety and protection, demonize and punish them and may endanger their lives,” said UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Gillian Triggs.
The number of refugee asylum seekers in Denmark has steadily declined to just over 1,500 claimants last year, from a peak of over 21,000 in 2015, when more than a million refugees, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, have reached the coasts of the EU. (Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard, additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Alison Williams and Christina Fincher)
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This notice was published: 2021-06-03 12:05:08