Danes to target refugees’ valuables in bid to curb immigration

Denmark’s parliament passed measures aimed at deterring refugees from seeking asylum, including confiscating valuables to pay for their stay, despite protests from international human rights organisations.

Danes to target refugees’ valuables in bid to curb immigration

The measures, which also include extending family reunification among refugees from one year to three years, are the latest sign that the Nordic welcome for refugees is waning as large numbers flee war in Africa and Middle East for a better life in Europe.

The “jewellery bill” is the latest attempt by Denmark’s minority centre-right government to curb immigration to a country that took in a record 20,000 refugees last year.

Under the bill, refugees could keep possessions amounting to 10,000 Danish crowns (€1,350), raised from 3,000 crowns after criticism from human rights organisations.

Valuables of special emotional value such as wedding rings will be exempt.

“Most (refugees) have lost everything and yet this legislation appears to say that the few fortunate enough to have survived the trip to Denmark with their few remaining possessions haven’t lost enough,” the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said.

The Liberals Party government has just 34 out of 179 seats in parliament and depends on support of right-leaning parties, including the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF), to pass laws.

During a three-and-a-half hour debate, dissenting voices from small left-wing parties were heard including from Red Green Alliance.

But the bill passed with an overwhelming majority, backed by the main centre-left opposition party Social Democrats, highlighting a shift to the right in Denmark’s political landscape thanks to DF’s popularity and rising concern over refugee numbers.

Denmark is not the only Nordic country trying to shut its doors to migrants.

Sweden, which took in over 160,000 refugees last year, the most per capita in Europe, has introduced checks on its border to Denmark.

Norway, meanwhile, has been trying to send back refugees who crossed over from Russia.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday that Moscow would not take them back.

Denmark is also not alone in targeting migrants’ valuables. Switzerland has started taking valuables from asylum seekers over 1,000 Swiss francs (€900), the German state of Baden-Württemberg valuables above €350, while other southern states have been reported to do the same.

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