Denmark Immigration Law Violates the Human Rights of Vulnerable Refugees

New York City – Human Rights First today called on the Obama Administration to urge Denmark to abandon the newly-passed immigration law that allows for the seizure of assets from refugees and prolongs the separation of refugee families, and to encourage all states to respect the human rights of refugees fleeing violence and persecution in search of safety.

“Punishing refugee families—many who have already lost their homes and endured extreme trauma—by preventing families from reuniting for over three years and seizing their assets is the wrong approach. While many countries are facing challenges as they respond to the greatest refugee crisis since World War II, the United States should call on Denmark and all states to respect the basic human rights of refugees and to refrain from policies designed to deter refugees from fleeing to their countries,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “This approach sends a troubling message to the rest of the world and to the countries that are hosting millions of refugees. It is also a jarring reminder of the notorious seizures of the assets of Jewish people during the Holocaust, and is unworthy of countries that should stand for human rights and the protection of the persecuted.”

According to news reports, the new Danish law allows the government to seize the assets of refugees who arrive in the country with total assets worth more than 10,000 kroner (approximately $1,450 USD). The seized assets will be used to help fund the cost of services provided to refugees. The Danish law also extends the waiting period for relatives of refugees in Denmark who would like to apply to be resettled in the country from one year to three years.

Human Rights First notes that, according to a spokesperson, the new immigration law was initially proposed by the far-right Danish People’s Party (DF). This comes as far-right extremist and antisemitic parties in Europe have increased their political power in the past few years.

The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with over 60 million people displaced.  Over 4 million Syrians have fled their country due to conflict and persecution, and 7.6 million are displaced within Syria in need of humanitarian assistance. Many of these refugees have been stranded for years in neighboring countries where they cannot work or support their families, have little access to education, and lack the level of humanitarian assistance they need. Frontline states and key U.S. allies including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan continue to host the majority of the approximately 4 million refugees who have fled Syria, struggling under the strain of hosting so many refugees.


Published on January 27, 2016


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