Head of government Lars Løkke Rasmussen (replaced Anders Fogh Rasmussen in April)
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 5.5 million
Life expectancy 78.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 6/6 per 1,000
New provisions were introduced allowing the use of secret information in deportation and expulsion cases. The authorities planned to use "diplomatic assurances" (unenforceable promises from the countries where individuals were to be returned) to return people suspected of terrorism to countries known to practise torture. There were forcible returns to Iraq. Measures to combat violence against women were inadequate.
Counter-terror and security
In July, amendments to the Aliens Act entered into force and were applied retrospectively. The new provisions allowed for the appointment of a lawyer from an approved list, when the authorities wished to expel or deport foreign nationals on "national security grounds" based on secret information. These security-cleared lawyers would have access during closed hearings to the secret material used to justify the expulsion or deportation, but they would be barred from disclosing it to the individual concerned or his or her lawyer of choice. The measures contravened fair trial standards.
In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture expressed concern about plans to rely on "diplomatic assurances" when returning people suspected of terrorism to countries known to practise torture.
- At the end of the year, the civil proceedings issued in 2007 by Ghousouallah Tarin, were ongoing. He was one of reportedly 31 Afghan nationals detained by the Danish contingent of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2002. He complained that after his transfer from Danish to US custody he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Some witnesses, who were current and former high-level employees of the Danish Ministry of Defence, had not yet testified by the end of the year.
Torture and other ill-treatment
Although amendments to the Civil and Military Criminal Codes had introduced torture as an aggravating circumstance for various criminal offences in 2008, and the Danish Criminal Code contains provisions punishing acts that amount to torture, Danish criminal law continued to omit torture as a specific crime in its own right.
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture expressed concern at, among other things, the extensive use of solitary confinement, particularly of pre-trial detainees.
Minors held on remand were regularly detained in the same facilities as adult inmates.
Police and security forces
In December, the government tabled legislation to establish a new police complaints system.
The policing of demonstrations held in December during the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen gave rise to concern. There were reports of use of excessive force, such as the use of pepper spray against demonstrators who were already under police control. Of the 968 demonstrators detained under the new provisions of administrative, preventive arrest, almost all were later released without charge.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
In August, in the middle of the night, police raided a church in Copenhagen, and detained a number of Iraqi asylum-seekers who had sheltered there for months. There were complaints that the police used excessive force to remove people who were demonstrating in solidarity with the asylum-seekers.