UN refugee agency voices regret over new Danish immigration rules

Under the Refugee Convention, there are clear restrictions on the expulsion of refugees, given the very serious consequences that they could face. “We are therefore concerned that the new Danish legislation allows for expulsion for lesser, albeit serious, offences, such as tax evasion and vandalism,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.“Likewise, we are worried that according to the new Danish legislation, the decision to expel a refugee also entails that he or she loses his or her refugee status, putting the person in a legal limbo.”Last year, Denmark received 2,260 asylum applications, primarily from Serbia and Montenegro (including Kosovo), Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Russian Federation, (including Chechens). In the last five years, 28,670 applications were submitted. In December, UNHCR warned that a European Union (EU) directive on asylum procedures might lead to a serious downgrading of asylum standards in the EU and beyond. It said the directive, which sets minimum norms for adjudicating asylum claims, could lead to breaches of international refugee law if no additional safeguards were introduced.The Agency was particularly concerned about rules allowing states to designate “safe third countries” outside the EU, to which asylum seekers can be turned back without even having had their claims heard in an EU member State.The directive also failed to spell out clearly that asylum seekers cannot be sent back to their countries of origin while waiting for the outcome of their appeals, thus removing the right to an effective remedy in the event that an error had been made, UNHCR said.

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