Denmark's plans to seize refugee valuables prompts controversy
Dec 25, Copenhagen: Denmark’s minority Liberal government has come under fire for plans to seize valuables from refugees to help fund their stay in the country.
The minority government hopes to deter more migrants from seeking asylum by taking valuables or cash worth more than 3,000 Danish crowns ($437) during border searches.
An online petition against the initiative entitled "No to the confiscation of migrants' valuables" had garnered almost 15,000 signatures by Dec 22.
According to the media reports, the proposed measure was likened to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews in the second world war and has prompted an MEP to quit the ruling party.
The proposed bill allows police to search the clothes and luggage of asylum seekers - and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark - with
a view to finding assets. The valuable should be returned if the refugee choose to withdraw the application for asylum.
Most asylum seekers sell everything back home to make the dangerous journey to Europe, but are often viewed in Europe with suspicion for having smart phones, news reports said.
Meanwhile, Danish police have themselves rejected the government idea.
“I can't imagine that we would go in and take away, for example wedding rings from refugees who come to the country,” the chairman of the Police Federation, Claus Oxfeldt told Denmarks Radio.
He said it is not the job of police officers to assess the value of, for example refugees’ clothing or jewellery.
However, the Danish minister for integration said the principle of the proposal also applies to Danes.
The planned measure is supported by the populist, anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DPP), which backs the centre-right minority government, and which says the move is aimed at stopping people from coming to Denmark.
According to AFP news reports quoting Martin Henriksen of the Danish People's Party (DPP), "The signal is important. Basically we are saying that if you want to come to Europe you should stay clear of Denmark because we have a lot of problems with migrants and ... we don't need any more in Denmark."
The bill will be voted on in January in the 179-seat parliament, and would come into force in February.
Denmark expects to receive around 20,000 asylum seekers this year, compared to 15,000 last year. In total 5.039 persons applied for asylum in
November 2015, the highest number in any month of the year, official figures released on Monday showed.
Earlier this month, Danes voted in a referendum to reject a government proposal on adopting the EU's justice rules.
The Oslo Times