Denmark approves controversial migrant assets bill

AGORA moderator's picture

The Danish parliament has backed a controversial proposal to confiscate asylum seekers' valuables to pay for their upkeep.
Denmark says the policy brings migrants in line with jobless Danes, who must sell assets above a certain level to claim benefits.
MPs also approved plans to delay family reunions for asylum seekers.
The bill was expected to go through even though it had been criticised by human rights groups.
Under the new law, refugees entering the country will only be allowed to keep possessions up to a value of about 10,000 kroner (1,340 euros; £1,000) - a figure raised from 3,000 kroner following objections.

Items of sentimental value, such as wedding rings, will be exempt.
Danish critics have likened the move to the confiscation of valuables from Jews during World War Two.
The new law also means the period migrants will have to wait before applying for relatives to join them will be extended from one year to three - a move aimed at discouraging new arrivals.
Temporary residence permits will be shortened and the conditions for obtaining a permanent permit will be restricted.
Denmark expects to receive around 20,000 asylum seekers in 2016, compared with 15,000 last year, the integration ministry told BBC News.
MPs approved the measures by 81 votes to 27 following a lengthy, and at times angry, debate. The centre-left opposition Social Democrats were among those who voted in favour.
Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of the centre-right Venstre party had previously shrugged off criticism of the proposals calling them "the most misunderstood bill in Denmark's history".
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the European Commission had criticised the proposals.
Speaking before the vote, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva the measures would cause hardship and harm.
"The decision to give Danish police the authority to search and confiscate valuables from asylum seekers sends damaging messages in our view," he said.
"It runs the risk of fuelling sentiments of fear and discrimination rather than promoting solidarity with people in need of protection."
Denmark is not the first European country to demand the assets of asylum seekers.
Earlier this month, Switzerland was criticised by a refugee group for seizing assets from some 100 people in 2015. Under Swiss rules, asylum seekers have to hand over assets above $1,000 (£700; €900).