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Denmark 2023

Afghan women and girls were granted refugee status, and special legislation granting temporary residency for people from Ukraine and Afghanistan was extended. The European Court of Human Rights opened a case against the Ministry of Defence for joint responsibility for the torture of civilians in Iraq in 2004.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

In January, the Refugee Appeals Board changed their rules to grant protection to all women and girl asylum seekers from Afghanistan. In March, the Refugee Appeals Board expanded the number of Syrian regions considered safe for return to include the province of Latakia, despite warnings that asylum seekers could not be guaranteed safety from persecution by the state due to their original decision to flee the country.

The authorities further extended the 2021 special legislation granting residency permits for Afghans until 30 November 2025, continuing the practice of offering only temporary residency. In September, special legislation offering protection to displaced Ukrainians was extended until March 2025.


In January, the CERD Committee recommended that the Danish authorities improve systematic data collection about hate crimes and training sessions for police, prosecutors and judges.

Freedom of expression

In September, the government responded to a series of Qur’an burnings with a legislative proposal criminalizing “improper treatment of religious scriptures of significant importance to a recognized religious community”. The law was adopted by the parliament in December, although it was criticized for containing vague language which could have negative implications for freedom of expression, as well as freedom of assembly and association. The law also took insufficient action to tackle anti-Muslim hatred, one of the underlying reasons for these Qur’an burnings.

Right to a healthy environment

In August, two climate activists were fined for an earlier act of civil disobedience in 2021, instead of receiving prison terms demanded by the state prosecutor.

Arbitrary deprivation of nationality

The Supreme Court ruled in March that the Ministry of Immigration had breached the principle of proportionality by withdrawing Danish nationality from a woman in 2020, who was being held with her two children in the prison-like camp of Al-Roj in Syria at the time.

A seven-year-old boy in Al-Roj camp was the only child of Danish nationality who had not been offered a return to Denmark together with his mother.


In March, the government announced the establishment of a committee of experts in June to revise the Penal Code to include war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture as distinct criminal acts.

In October, the European Court of Human Rights communicated with the Danish government on the case of Abdulaal Naser and Others v. Denmark, the so-called “Green Desert” case, for consideration on whether the Ministry of Defence is jointly responsible with the UK government for the torture of Iraqi civilians detained by Danish troops in 2004 during the Iraq War. As of the end of the year, the Court had not yet made a decision on the merits of the case. 

Torture and other ill-treatment

In December, the UN Committee against Torture launched its concluding observations on Denmark’s eighth periodic report, expressing concerns about compliance with the convention, particularly about the treatment of refugees.