• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Denmark 2013

May 17, 2013


Head of state Queen Margrethe II

Head of government Helle Thorning-Schmidt

A European Parliament report recommended that Denmark conduct an independent investigation into its involvement in the US-led rendition programme. A suspension of the transfer of detainees to the Afghan intelligence service by Danish armed forces was lifted despite the real risk of torture and other ill-treatment faced by those transferred. Immigration detention practices in relation to vulnerable people remained a cause for concern.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In April, the government established a commission to examine Denmark’s involvement in the Iraq war, including claims that the army transferred detainees to the Iraqi authorities despite allegedly knowing that they would be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. In October, it emerged that Danish soldiers were in possession of video footage apparently showing detainee mistreatment by Iraqi soldiers.

  • According to reports in December, 11 Iraqis were effectively prevented from bringing a court case against Denmark for allegedly transferring them to the Iraqi authorities despite knowing they would be at risk. The men had been denied legal aid and were required to pay a deposit of 40,000 kroner each as security before the case could proceed, an amount none of them could afford.

In October, the suspension of transfers of detainees by Danish armed forces to the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), was lifted despite the real risk of torture and other ill-treatment that those held by the NDS faced. As a result, on 20 October and 23 November, Danish armed forces in Afghanistan transferred Afghan detainees to the NDS facility in Lashkar Gah.

Counter-terror and security

In September, a European Parliament report recommended that Denmark conduct an independent investigation into its alleged complicity in the CIA’s rendition programme. A study commissioned by the government and conducted by the Danish Institute of International Studies, published in May, involved a paper review of previously collected documents, which did not amount to a human rights compliant investigation.

Also in September, an expert committee presented a draft bill providing for independent oversight of the collection and storage of data on private individuals and organizations by the Danish Security and Intelligence Service. However, concerns were raised that the bill did not establish a properly independent and effective control mechanism. Nor did it contain substantive provisions on the passing of such information to foreign intelligence services.

Police and security forces

In August, the director of the Independent Police Complaints Authority stated that a considerable number of complaints against the police had to be closed without further action being taken because it was not possible to identify the officers involved. As a result, several politicians called for police officers to wear identity numbers on their uniform – a suggestion opposed by heads of police.

Violence against women and girls

In November, the Standing Committee on Criminal Law issued its report on sexual offences, which contained several proposals for legislative reform. These included the criminalization of sexual abuse by a spouse, where the victim is in a “helpless state”; and to end the possibility of reduced or rescinded criminal punishments if the perpetrator and the victim marry each other or continue to be married after a rape.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Vulnerable people – including victims of torture, persons with a mental illness and unaccompanied minors – continued to be detained for immigration control purposes.

There were no forcible returns to Syria during the year. The Danish Immigration Services granted protection status to Syrian asylum-seekers in about 88% of cases. However, the remaining asylum-seekers from Syria – around 180 cases – were denied asylum and the possibility to work or study in Denmark.

Some asylum-seekers from countries such as Uganda, who were at risk of persecution at home due to their sexual orientation, were denied asylum based on arguments that they should “hide” their sexuality.

  • In June, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Elias Karkavandi, an Iranian citizen who was denied asylum, that some of the requirements placed on him under the so called “tolerated stay” regime – having to remain at Sandholm Asylum Centre and report regularly to the police – were disproportionate and violated his right to freedom of movement.