UN committee criticizes Denmark on third country plans for asylum seekers

  • World
  • Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The United Nations Committee against Torture has expressed concerns about Denmark's ambitions to transfer asylum seekers to third countries like Rwanda while their applications are being considered, citing worries about the safety of migrants.

The committee criticised Denmark two weeks after the UK Supreme Court said Rwanda could not be considered a safe third country, blocking Britain's similar plans for transferring asylum seekers to Rwanda. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would pass an emergency law to declare Rwanda a safe destination for migrants.

Denmark has introduced increasingly harsh immigration policies in the last decade and passed a law in 2021 that allows refugees arriving on Danish soil to be moved to asylum centres in a partner country, a move criticised by the European Commission.

In a bid to bypass the European Union's fragmented migration and asylum system, Denmark last year agreed with Rwanda to explore setting up a program in which asylum seekers arriving in Denmark could be transferred to the African country.

That work has since been paused, as the Danish government is now instead trying to establish a similar setup together with the EU or with other EU-members. Denmark has yet to send any migrants to Rwanda.

"It remains the government's goal to relocate asylum processing to a partner country in collaboration with the EU," Kaare Dybvad Bek, Danish Minister of Immigration and Integration said in an email to Reuters.

"The judgment from the UK does not change the fact that there is a need for new solutions that create a more humane and fair asylum system while addressing the significant consequences of irregular migration," he wrote.

The UN committee said in a report it was concerned about the Danish legislation and recommended it was revisited, taking international standards into account.

"The government will, of course, review the recommendations," Kaare Dybvad Bek said.

Italy this month announced a plan to build camps in Albania to house sea migrants trying to come ashore. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has indicated that he would be open to study Italy's deal in Albania.

(Reporting by Johannes Birkebaek; editing by Grant McCool)

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