Denmark Votes on Proposal to Seize Refugees’ Valuables
Denmark’s lawmakers will vote on January 26 on a highly controversial proposal to confiscate asylum seekers’ valuables to pay for their upkeep.
The proposal drew sharp criticism in Denmark and abroad when it was announced earlier this month.
Danish authorities insist the policy brings refugees in line with jobless Danes, who must sell assets above a certain level to claim benefits.
With broad cross-party support, the bill looks set to pass into law.
The Danish government will also vote on another controversial proposal – delaying family reunifications for refugees in an attempt to discourage them from travelling to the country.
Denmark expects to receive around 20,000 asylum seekers in 2016, compared with 15,000 in 2015.
The country insists that the new laws are needed to stem the flow of refugees, despite both Denmark and Sweden recently tightening their borders.
Many have compared the plan to the confiscation of valuables from Jews during the World War II.
Integration Minister Inger Stoejberg was forced to announce that no items deemed sentimental would be taken. The law would apply to cash or assets worth more than 10,000 kroner ($1,450) – a figure raised from 3,000 kroner following objections.
UN refugee agency the UNHCR has warned that the proposals violate the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the UN Refugee Convention.
Both the ruling center-right Venstre party and the right-wing, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party back the bill, meaning it is likely to pass.
PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen of the Venstre party has shrugged off criticism, calling the bill “the most misunderstood bill in Denmark’s history”.