Denmark to seize refugees' valuables to cover cost

COPENHAGEN • The Danish Parliament was set to pass measures yesterday to deter refugees from seeking asylum, including confiscating valuables to pay for their stay, despite protests from international human rights organisations.

The measures, which include delaying family reunification to three years, are the latest sign that the Nordic welcome for refugees is waning as large numbers flee war in Africa and the Middle East in what is becoming Europe's biggest migrant crisis in decades.

The "jewellery Bill" is the latest attempt by Denmark's seven- month-old minority centre-right government to curb emigration to a country that took in a record 20,000 refugees last year.

Under the Bill, refugees could keep possessions amounting to 10,000 Danish crowns (S$2,000), raised from 3,000 crowns after criticism from human rights organisations. Valuables of special emotional value such as wedding rings will be exempt.

The Liberal government has just 34 out of 179 seats in Parliament and depends on the support of rightist parties, including the anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DF), to pass laws.

The Bill is likely to pass, with most lawmakers from the main centre-left opposition party Social Democrats expected to vote for it, as Denmark's political landscape shifts to the right thanks to DF's popularity and growing concern over the rising refugee numbers.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Denmark to seize refugees' valuables to cover cost'. Print Edition | Subscribe