Danish asylum law: applications processed in Rwanda?

The Danish parliament has approved a new law proposed by the country's Social Democratic-Green government which would allow asylum seekers to be moved to countries outside the EU and kept there in asylum centres while their applications are processed. According to media reports, talks with Rwanda are already underway. The legislation is drawing fierce criticism far beyond Denmark's borders.

Open/close all quotes
Die Presse (AT) /

Neither humane nor legal

The countries of destination are shirking their responsibility, Die Presse criticises:

“With the new initiative, those who might need protection are to be deported and housed in barracks, even though their asylum application has not yet been processed. And even if their application is approved later on, it is not guaranteed that they will be taken in. The burden is to be borne by third countries; the countries of destination are thus passing on their responsibility in exchange for money. ... No one wants to provoke another mass exodus to the EU. Nevertheless, a clear distinction between those who are actually in need of protection and those who are not is essential. Systematically complicating the examination procedure or making the time until it is concluded as undignified as possible for these people is neither humane nor legally justified.”

Politiken (DK) /

Losing the soul of social democracy

Prime Minister Frederiksen's harsh asylum policy is rightly being criticised by other European social democrats, notes Politiken:

“News of the ideological decay of a Danish social democracy that once made international solidarity its central theme is going around the world and tarnishing Denmark's reputation. ... The moral decline began for the most part with the previous liberal-led governments and has continued with Mette Frederiksen's Social Democrats. So much so that social democrats in other countries can no longer detect any social democracy in it. So yes, yes ... Mette Frederiksen is in power, but she has lost the social democratic soul.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Despicable instrumentalisation of refugees

Denmark's Social Democrats have paid a high price for regaining power, Le Monde comments angrily:

“The cost is a dangerous race towards the abyss. And a despicable instrumentalisation of refugees. Yet in 2020 there were only 1,515 asylum applications in Denmark - the lowest number in 20 years and only a tenth of what Sweden and Germany recorded on a per capita basis. It is both dangerous and shocking for an EU state to delegate the implementation of asylum to countries in the south. Such a practice encourages 'blackmail with refugees' by allowing countries of origin to influence EU policy. The European Union must not allow practices to prevail on its territory that lead to the writing off of one of the human rights on which it is based.”

Politiken (DK) /

Shameful evasion of responsibility

Louise Holck and Nikolas Feith Tan of the Danish Institute for Human Rights describe Denmark's policy as pathetic. In Politiken they write:

“The solution is not for Denmark to export its responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees to a third country. The government's proposal means that, in principle, Denmark is no longer obliged to protect any refugees itself. A future model for the protection of refugees must be found within the international community. It must ensure both a fair distribution of responsibility, but also, and more importantly, ensure that all those who have been forced to flee get the protection they need and are entitled to.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Other countries could follow suit

Denmark's plan violates the international Refugee Convention, complains historian Leo Lucassen in NRC Handelsblad:

“Asylum seekers are in some cases being extradited to regimes that - to put it mildly - have little respect for human rights. And the plan effectively abandons refugees to their fate even after their asylum application has been accepted. Incidentally, Denmark is going only one step further than the European Union here. ... Despite the international criticism, it cannot be ruled out that other EU countries will follow the Danish example. The idea that the number of asylum seekers must be reduced as much as possible and that deterrence helps is alive and kicking not just in Copenhagen.”

El País (ES) /

Point victory for the far right

El País is alarmed by the extent to which one of Europe's popular parties has allowed itself to be influenced by far-right ideas:

“This is, in essence, an abjuration of one of the founding principles of modern Europe: the willingness to offer protection to those fleeing persecution and terror. The law was passed by a government led by the Social Democratic Party, and is a worrying symptom of the cultural triumph of far-right ideology on immigration.”