The government indicated that it would consider relying on diplomatic assurances to deport people to countries where they could be at risk of human rights violations. The system for investigating complaints against the police failed to ensure a remedy for ill-treatment. Discriminatory legislation and practice led to a lack of protection for survivors of rape.
Torture and other ill-treatment – deportation with assurances
In April the Minister for Refugees, Immigrants and Integration commissioned a working group to consider ways of deporting foreign nationals believed to pose a threat to national security. The working group was asked to consider whether Denmark should seek and rely on “diplomatic assurances” to deport people to countries where they would be at risk of grave human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment.
The working group was established in response to the cases of K.S. and S.C., two Tunisian nationals resident in Denmark who were arrested in February, along with a Danish national. The three men were suspected of involvement in an alleged conspiracy to kill one of the cartoonists responsible for controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad which appeared in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. The Danish national was released shortly after his arrest. The residence permits of the two Tunisian nationals were revoked, and an order was made for their expulsion on the grounds that they were considered a threat to national security. The men were detained pending the execution of the expulsion order. In August, K.S. was reported to have left Denmark voluntarily and travelled to an unknown destination.
In October, the Refugee Appeals Board found that S.C. would face a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment if deported to Tunisia, and ruled that the expulsion could not go ahead. As a result S.C. was released from detention. The government indicated that it would continue its efforts to deport him, including by seeking and relying on assurances from the Tunisian authorities as to his treatment on return, if this was recommended by the working group.
Police and security forces
The system for resolving complaints against the police failed to ensure an effective remedy for allegations of ill-treatment. Very few complaints – between five and eight out of every 1,000 – were upheld by regional public prosecutors, and even fewer resulted in criminal charges being brought against the police.
In 2006 the Minister of Justice had commissioned a committee to examine the current complaints system and suggest possible changes. The committee had not published its report by the end of 2008.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
In November, new legislation imposed further restrictions on the “tolerated residency” status given to foreign nationals against whom an expulsion order has been made but cannot be carried out. This includes people whose return to their country of origin has been ruled to be unsafe by the Refugee Appeals Board. In November there were believed to be 18 people with a “tolerated residency” status, including the Tunisian national referred to as S.C. The new legislation required these people to live in designated centres for asylum-seekers and to report daily to the police, in all but exceptional cases. The legislation increased to one year the maximum period of imprisonment which can be imposed for failure to comply with these requirements.
At least 11 Iraqis were forcibly returned to Iraq, contrary to the recommendations of the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.
Some asylum-seekers who had been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment did not receive adequate medical treatment in Denmark.
Violence against women and girls
There was a lack of legal protection and redress for survivors of rape. Only one in five rapes reported to the police resulted in a conviction. Sixty per cent of cases where charges were brought did not reach court due to lack of evidence.
Legislation provides for a possible reduction in the sentence for rape if the victim and the perpetrator subsequently marry or enter into a civil partnership. Non-consensual sex with a victim who is in a vulnerable state, for instance as a result of illness or intoxication, is not categorized as rape unless the perpetrator can be shown to have been directly responsible for the victim’s condition.