Denmark lawmakers approve seizure of asylum seekers’ assets News
Denmark lawmakers approve seizure of asylum seekers’ assets

[JURIST] Danish lawmakers [official website] on Tuesday approved a controversial bill [text, PDF, in Danish] that will allow Danish authorities to seize assets from immigrants seeking asylum in order to cover their expenses. Under the law, police will be allowed to search and seize [The Local report] immigrants’ cash or belongings valued over 10,000 kroner (USD $1,450). This amount was raised [BBC report] from 3,000 kroner (USD $ 435.84) after severe backlash. Belongings with sentimental value, such as wedding bands, are exempt from seizure. Several human rights organizations have criticized the law [Al Jazeera report], likening it to the seizure of valuable belongings by Nazi forces during World War II. However, lawmakers have defended the law stating that it aligns with the welfare model of Denmark. Immigration minister, Inger Stojberg, said that Danish lawmakers found the law to be “fair and reasonable” as “those asylum seekers who do bring enough assets with them should cover the costs of their food and lodging during the asylum process.” This, however, has not stopped some from believing that the measure, which also includes provisions allowing for the delay of reunification to three years, as a measure considered to deter immigration in the country.

The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [JURIST report] saying that Lebanese residency laws risked creating a large undocumented community of refugees living at the margins of society. In November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Also that month Amnesty International analyzed [JURIST report] the EU’s approach to the refugee crisis and recommends changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October HRW called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis.