New bill presented before the Danish Parliament
The Danish Government has on 10 December presented a bill before the Danish Parliament which includes a number of different initiatives on asylum policy, including an initiative on seizing valuable assets.
The first reading in Parliament took place on 13 January and will be followed by two more readings during January, before the law comes into force. The bill is expected to be effective from February 2016.
The Danish welfare state is based upon the principle that the state will pay for those who cannot take care of themselves, but not for those who can. This applies to asylum seekers as well as to Danes seeking unemployment benefits.
The Danish Immigration Service shall ensure that asylum seekers receive the necessary support while their asylum applications are being considered. The support includes basic maintenance, health care and accommodation.
The basic aim is to ensure, that those who are in need, also receive the necessary support.
It follows from current rules that an asylum seeker, who brings sufficient means to take care of him- or herself, should not also receive support from the Immigration Service. The asylum seeker is obliged to inform on any means that the asylum seeker brings with him or her.
The bill presented on 10 December 2015 provides the Danish authorities with the power to search clothes and luggage of asylum seekers – and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark – with a view to finding assets which may cover the expenses mentioned above.
The Danish Government has proposed to amend the bill as follows:
- Amounts of cash will be seized only where it is a matter of amounts exceeding DKK 10,000
- Items of major financial value i.e. exceeding DKK 10,000 will be seized. Personal items, however, of special sentimental value will not be seized
The amendment implies that the limit on amounts of cash will be raised from the original proposal of DKK 3,000 to DKK 10,000.
The amendment implies, furthermore, complete exemption for items of special sentimental value. These items may include e.g. wedding rings, engagement rings, family portraits, decorations and medals, and the like. These are items which are of special importance to an asylum seeker for personal reasons irrespective of the use and market value of the item, and which cannot normally be replaced by a newly purchased item.
Other items may be seized, as has been the case so far, provided they are of major financial value. They are e.g. watches, mobile phones and computers. With respect to these items, the amendment to the bill implies that only items of a value exceeding DKK 10,000 will be seized.
The proposed rule also applies to refugees already in the country.
Europe currently receives a very high number of refugees. This put a pressure on all countries, including Denmark. Denmark does take a share. However, a too high number of refugees puts pressure on the Danish society and makes it more difficult to ensure a successful integration of those who come to Denmark. The Government has therefore decided to tighten Danish refugee policies.