Denmark moves ahead with bill to curb migrants rights
COPENHAGENJan 22, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Jan 22, 2016 12:00 am
Danish lawmakers Thursday gave a final nod to drastic reforms curbing the rights of asylum seekers as legal and human rights experts castigate Copenhagen for turning its back on its international commitments. The new law would delay family reunifications, confiscate migrants' valuables and make already stringent permanent residency requirements even tougher. In Copenhagen, the Danish speaker of parliament presented the bill yesterday in its final form to the assembly for its second reading, and was a last chance for lawmakers to demand changes. Just one request was presented and swiftly rejected by legislators, as a majority has already agreed to back the bill in its existing form following thorny negotiations.
"The big legislative work... has already been done," said University of Copenhagen political science professor Kasper Moller Hansen said of Thursday's expeditious procedure. Fearing a domino effect across Europe, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR has decried the bill, saying it "could fuel fear (and) xenophobia". Legal experts have however voiced more alarm over the measures, which make it harder to obtain family reunifications and residency permits. "According to the European Court of Human Rights, the processing of family reunification cases must be expeditious, flexible and efficient with special attention and care," the director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights, Jonas Christoffersen, told AFP. Amnesty International's deputy director for Europe, Gauri van Gulik, denounced a "discriminatory practice" in singling out refugees already traumatized by war. Once voted by parliament next week, Denmark's Queen Margrethe will sign the bill into law within a few days. No date has been set for the law to go into force, but it is expected in early February, according to observers.