Denmark: MPs pass law allowing for asylum seekers to be processed abroad

Denmark: MPs pass law allowing for asylum seekers to be processed abroad

Danish MPs have defied international condemnation to approve legislation providing for asylum seekers to be transferred to detention centres outside of Europe for processing.

The bill, approved in a 70-24 vote yesterday, will amend the Aliens Act to allow Denmark to move refugees to asylum centres in “partner countries” for processing, which could also lead to them receiving asylum in that country.

The Danish government previously signed a memorandum of understanding with Rwanda in which it stated its “vision [is] that the processing of asylum applications should take place outside of the EU in order to break the negative incentive structure of the present asylum system”.

Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said the new law “could see the forcible transfer of asylum-seekers and the abdication of Denmark’s responsibility for the asylum process and for protecting vulnerable refugees”.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says that efforts to “externalise or outsource” asylum obligations “run counter to the letter and spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as the Global Compact on Refugees where countries agreed to share more equitably the responsibility for refugee protection”.

Mr Grandi added: “Already today nearly 90 per cent percent of the world’s refugees live in developing or the least developed countries that – despite their limited resources – step up and meet their international legal obligations and responsibilities.

“UNHCR has raised repeatedly its concerns and objections to the Danish government’s proposal and has offered advice and pragmatic alternatives.

“UNHCR will continue to engage in discussions with Denmark, which remains a valuable and long-standing partner to UNHCR, in order to find practical ways forward that ensure the confidence of the Danish people and uphold Denmark’s international commitments.”

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