Denmark: Don’t send refugees back to Syria
Denmark is putting hundreds of refugees at risk of return to Syria, claiming that Damascus and the surrounding region is now safe. Air and ground attacks in some areas may have stopped, but dangers remain, with evidence showing that detentions, disappearances and torture continue. Danish authorities must protect Syrian refugees and reverse any attempt to force them back to Syria.
In 2019, Denmark moved from supporting integration of asylum-seekers to using all measures to return refugees, coinciding with Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s goal of having “zero asylum-seekers”. Since then, the government has fast-tracked reviews of the residency permits of around 900 refugees from Syria.
At least 39 refugees have now had their residency status stripped and have been placed in “return centres”, where they are not allowed to work or pursue an education. Here they will stay, separated from their families, their communities, their schools and workplaces, until they can be deported. The truth is that their lives will be on hold. The Danish government cannot return them since it has no diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime.
They face an uncertain future stuck in limbo, cut off from Danish society. These cruel conditions are designed to pressure them to decide to return “voluntarily” to Syria, a measure that is unlawful under international law.
Syria still remains a very dangerous place. Civilians returning to government-controlled areas in Syria are asked to go through “security clearance” involving interrogation by Syrian security forces. These forces are responsible for widespread and systematic human rights violations constituting crimes against humanity, including the use of torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances.