Denmark wants to reduce the number of asylum seekers to zero: Parliament has now passed a controversial law for this. But there are still many questions left unanswered.
The Danish parliament has decided on a controversial reform of their asylum law. The text tabled by the Social Democratic government was approved on Thursday with 70 votes to 24. Right-wing parties in particular supported the law, which only allows refugees to be accepted into Denmark in exceptional cases. Sharp criticism came from the UN, and the EU also kept its distance.
The law provides that asylum seekers after their personal registration at the Danish border are taken to a reception center outside the European Union. Only a few exceptions are planned, for example in the case of serious illnesses.
If they are not granted refugee status, the migrants would be asked to leave the third country. And even with a positive asylum decision, the applicant would have to stay in the third country and not be able to travel to Denmark.
Which third country is participating?
The application of the controversial law still depends on whether third countries agree to set up a reception center for asylum seekers. These centers would then be financed by Denmark but managed by the third country.
So far, no state has agreed to set up one of these asylum centers, which the government in Copenhagen made a lot of ridicule. According to its own information, however, the government is in talks with five to ten countries. In the Danish media, for example, Egypt and Ethiopia were mentioned as possible candidates.
Discussions seem to be more advanced, especially with Rwanda. Denmark’s Migration Minister Mattias Tesfaye visited the Central African country in April. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of asylum and migration. In particular, however, external asylum processing is not included.
Criticism from all sides
“The (Rwandan) parliament has not yet discussed it,” said Rwandan opposition MP Frank Habineza of the AFP news agency. “If it ever gets to parliament, I’ll vote against it because I see it as a violation of human values.”
The UN refugee agency UNHCR expressed similar criticism. The law is “incompatible with the principles of international refugee cooperation,” said the UNHCR representative in the Nordic and Baltic countries, Henrik Nordentoft, according to the Ritzau news agency. Denmark risks triggering a “domino effect”; other countries could now also severely restrict the protection of refugees.
Violation of EU law?
The EU also distanced itself from the law. This raises “fundamental questions about both access to asylum procedures and effective access to protection,” said EU Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz. According to European law, the outsourcing of asylum procedures to third countries is not possible, he emphasized.
Denmark has had an extremely restrictive migration policy for years. The government of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has set the goal of reducing the number of asylum seekers to zero. The revocation of residence permits for Syrians, whose regions of origin are classified as “safe” by Copenhagen, has recently attracted severe criticism.