Denmark Human Rights

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.

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.

During the year, 38 Iraqi asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Iraq, including at least 25 to central and southern Iraq contrary to the advice of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

Newly arrived refugees and other aliens were still only entitled to between 45 and 65 per cent of regular welfare benefits, giving rise to concern that this would lead to their being destitute.

Violence against women and girls

In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture expressed concern at the high incidence of assault and sexual offences against women in Greenland. In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) expressed concern at the increase in the total number of women subjected to physical violence between 2000 and 2005, and that immigrant women were most affected. The CEDAW Committee noted that foreign married women, whose immigration status depended on that of their spouses, were particularly vulnerable as victims of domestic violence. The strict seven-year residence requirement for permanent residency gave rise to concern that it may prevent women from leaving abusive relationships and seeking assistance.

The CEDAW Committee concurred with the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, that the government's emphasis on the repatriation of trafficking victims to their country of origin, rather than on their recovery and rehabilitation, was a matter of concern.

The authorities failed to address the lack of legal protection and redress for rape survivors. However, in November the government commissioned an expert committee to examine existing rape legislation and make recommendations.