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Statement on the Danish proposal to potentially externalize the asylum procedure

The Danish parliament has passed a bill, opening the possibility to transfer asylum seekers and refugees to a third country – and hence externalize the Danish asylum procedure. The Danish Refugee Council finds this idea irresponsible and lacking in solidarity.

Posted on 03 Jun 2021

The idea to externalize the responsibility of processing asylum seekers’ asylum claims is both irresponsible and lacking in solidarity. We have repeatedly called on the Danish Members of Parliament to reject this bill. Similar models, such as the Australian model or the so-called ‘hotspots’ on the Greek islands, have involved serious incidents of detention, physical assault, slow asylum proceedings, lack of access to health care and lack of access to legal assistance.

It is also still very unclear how a possible reception center in a third country would be administered, in light of including Denmark's legal responsibility for safeguarding the rights of asylum seekers and refugees and ensuring their protection. It has also been one of our main concerns regarding the bill, which has now unfortunately been passed without adequate consideration. The fact is that the parliament have voted on a bill which paves the way for a potential asylum processing model that does not yet exist and which they therefore do not know what actually entails. This means that the parliament has effectively voted in the blind.

At the same time, with the passing of this bill, Denmark is sending an extremely problematic signal against solidarity with our neighboring countries in the EU and especially to the often poorer countries in the world, which take by far the greatest responsibility for the world’s refugees. The continued willingness of neighboring countries in areas plagues by war or conflict to host millions of refugees is not something to take for granted. If a rich country such as Denmark is not willing to take responsibility, there is a significant risk that countries hosting far larger number of refugees will also opt out and give up on global efforts to find joint and sustainable solutions.

Finally, by pursuing this idea, Denmark does nothing to address the growing global need for protection. This bill primarily seeks to prevent asylum seekers from applying to Denmark – a move that is neither an act of solidarity nor a productive contribution to durable solutions.

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