Rights groups, UNHCR and the EU criticize the measures, which some fear will have a domino effect and see other nations excluded from accountability.
The Danish parliament has passed a law allowing the Nordic country to deport asylum seekers to countries outside Europe, challenging requests for the abandonment of legislation by NGOs and the United Nations.
The movement was led by the Social Democratic government against the immigration of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen; 70 lawmakers voted in favor of the proposal and 24 against Thursday.
The law allows Denmark, which has gained notoriety for its immigration policies over the past decade, to relocate refugees arriving on Danish soil to asylum centers in a partner country.
There, asylum seekers would review their cases and possibly get protection in that country.
In practice, people would have to apply for asylum on the Danish border and then be transported to a center outside Europe while being processed.
Denmark would pay the bill for the operation, but the processing of asylum applications would be carried out by the host country.
“If you apply for asylum in Denmark, you will know that you will be sent back to a country outside Europe, and therefore we hope that people will stop applying for asylum in Denmark,” government spokesman Rasmus Stoklund told the station DR.
The rich Scandinavian nation has the stated goal of receiving zero asylum seekers and instead only seeks to accept refugees under the UN quota system.
Denmark has not yet reached an agreement with a partner nation, but Stoklund said it was negotiating with several candidate countries.
Critics are concerned that the plan would harm the well-being of refugees and allow Denmark to evade its obligations within the EU.
The blog’s executive arm said it had “fundamental concerns” about the new law.
“It is not possible under existing EU rules or proposals under the new pact on migration and asylum,” European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said, adding that the right to claim asylum was fundamental to the EU.
Charlotte Slente, head of the Danish Refugee Council, said: “If a rich country like Denmark is unwilling to take on responsibilities, there is a significant risk that countries hosting a much larger number of refugees will also choose to relinquish their responsibilities. global efforts to find joint and sustainable solutions “.
Similar moves in Australia and some Greek islands had led to “serious detention incidents, physical assaults, slow asylum processes, lack of access to healthcare and lack of access to legal aid,” he said, adding that the law sends a problematic signal “especially to the world’s often poorest countries, which take on much of the world’s greatest responsibility for refugees.”
Today, the Danish parliament has passed a bill, opening up the possibility of transferring asylum seekers and refugees to a third country; therefore, outsource the asylum procedure. We find this idea irresponsible and lacking in solidarity. Read the full statement here: https://t.co/Idkzp3D49c pic.twitter.com/oejPfHt6uu
– Danish Refugee Council (@DRC_ngo) June 3, 2021
Last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on Denmark not to pass the bill, saying it could catalyze a “race to the bottom” if other European countries began to imitate the Danish politics.
“UNHCR remains strongly opposed to outsourcing initiatives that forcibly transfer asylum seekers to other countries,” UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Gillian Triggs said in May.
Last year, 1,547 people applied for asylum in Denmark, up from 2,716 the previous year, according to the country’s Ministry of Immigration and Integration.
The annual applications of the last decade reached their peak in 2015, when 21,316 people applied for asylum during the European refugee crisis.