09 February 2024

Exercising Power from the Outside

Since 2019, anti-Islam non-parliamentary activists have explored the limits to freedom of speech in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands through their provocative Quran desecration acts. Using the non-parliamentarian arena to exercise power from a position of minority, the far-right activist Rasmus Paludan and his party were able to effectively push the Danish constitutional boundaries, while at the same time affecting the geopolitical situation. While the protests so far only have had legal repercussions regarding blasphemy and freedom of speech in Denmark, it clearly demonstrates that non-parliamentary far-right activists also hold certain legislative powers.

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13 October 2023

Obstinate Choices

Denmark is currently going through a full-blown intelligence scandal. It includes charges of illegal activity lodged by the Danish Intelligence Oversight Board (TET) against the Danish foreign intelligence service (FE), as well as a range of criminal cases brought against the former head of FE, a former minister of defence, and a former intelligence officer on charges of leaking classified information. In this post, I argue that these scandals can best be understood through the lens of a series of obstinate choices made by the Danish government and its representatives. Seemingly, because key decision-makers lacked trust and got fed up with leaks, the situation was handled aggressively from the start, as a matter of principle. I explain the complex scandal but focus on specifics only in the case against former minister of defence, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, as his case is the most clear-cut and observable for outsiders.

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23 February 2023

Departing from Hostile Refugee Landscapes

In December 2022, the Swedish Migration Agency estimated that the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan has made the lives of Afghan women and girls so difficult that it counts as persecution based on gender. Against this background, the Migration Agency announced that all women and girls from Afghanistan are eligible to refugee status and a three-year residence permit in Sweden. These policies represent a major departure from the wide range of restrictive amendments that Denmark and Sweden, over the past decades, have introduced to their asylum laws with the aim of becoming less attractive target countries for asylum seekers.

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Das Ende von Schengen?

Anfang Januar gab es ein Jubiläum an der deutsch-dänischen Grenze: zum siebten Mal jährte sich die Wiedereinführung der Grenzkontrollen durch Dänemarks. In einem Gutachten im Auftrag von MEP Rasmus Andresen und der grünen Fraktion im EU-Parlament haben wir untersucht, ob Dänemark die Wiedereinführung und Aufrechterhaltung von Grenzkontrollen rechtfertigen kann. Auch Österreich, Frankreich, Deutschland, Norwegen und Schweden führten Grenzkontrollen seit 2016 wieder ein. Diese Staaten legen die Axt an die Freizügigkeit im EU-Binnenraum.

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12 April 2022
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Anything Goes?

Last month, the ECtHR ruled in the case of Johansen v. Denmark on the deprivation of nationality and expulsion for terrorist offenses. It rejected the applicant’s complaint of an infringement of Art. 8 ECHR. The decision underlines the Court’s reluctance to engage with issues raised by deprivations of nationality in terrorism cases. Instead of setting out clear limits on such measures based on the rights guaranteed by the Convention, the Court does not seem to be willing to interfere with measures related to national security, no matter how drastic the consequences for the individual.

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12 July 2021
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The Limits of Indirect Deterrence of Asylum Seekers

The ECtHR judgment M.A. v. Denmark is significant for several reasons. Firstly, because it adds to an already growing international criticism of Denmark’s asylum and immigration policy. Secondly, because the judgment helps clarify the Court’s position on an issue, family reunification for refugees, where case law has hitherto been somewhat ambiguous, and where several European States have introduced new restrictions since 2015. Third, and finally, the judgment represents – to paraphrase Harold Koh - another “way station…in the complex enforcement” of migrant and refugee rights by international human rights institutions.

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03 June 2021
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From Denmark to Damascus

In recent weeks, Denmark made international headlines with its refusal to extend residence permits for Syrian subsidiary protection holders in Denmark from the Damascus province. Denmark’s emergence as the first state in Europe to end the protection of Syrians on the basis of improved conditions in the wider Damascus area is the result of a self-described ‘paradigm shift’ in Danish refugee policy dating back to 2015.

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22 March 2021

The Eternal Emergency? Denmark’s Legal Response to COVID-19 in Review

On 11th March 2020 the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen found herself in a historic moment. The infection numbers in Denmark had dramatically increased within the last 24 hours - from just 157 infected in total on the 10th of March to 514 on March 11th – and a, now well-documented, disagreement between the health authorities and the government on the overall strategy had forced the hand of the Prime Minister to take decisive action. Dressed all in black, the prime minister ceremonially opened the press conference with the, now famous, words: “What I will tell you tonight, will have major implications for all Danes”. Indeed, almost one year from the Prime minister’s public prophecy, we can conclude - it did.

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04 February 2021

Gut gemeint und schlecht gemacht

In Dänemark hat ein Amtsvergehensverfahren gegen die ehemalige Migrationsministerin Inger Støjberg begonnen, weil sie 2016 angeordnet hatte, alle nach Dänemark geflüchteten Paare mit einem minderjährigen Ehepartner zu trennen. Das deutsche Bundesverfassungsgericht dürfte das mit Interesse zur Kenntnis nehmen. Auch in Deutschland war es die Trennung eines geflüchteten Ehepaares, die 2017 den Anlass zum Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Kinderehen gab.

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04 May 2020

Something is Forgotten in the State of Denmark: Denmark’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

While the Danish Government’s approach, up until this point, has been successful in limiting the spread of the pandemic and none of the government initiatives seem blatantly unconstitutional – something might be forgotten in the state of Denmark: that the resilience and cultural properties of the Danish society contributed to the success in handling COVID-19 rather than increasing executive power.

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04 May 2018
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The Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Copenhagen Declaration – a Reply to Helga Molbæk-Steensig

In her blog post “Is Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?”, Helga Molbæk-Steensig analyses the making of the Copenhagen Declaration; the most important outcome of the Danish chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Molbæk-Steensig agrees with most commentators that the declaration does not reflect the Danish government’s “strong discourse of sovereignty and democratic deficit in the Danish debate“. We certainly agree on this point, but we cannot agree with Molbæk-Steensig when she claims that we – Denmark’s national human rights institution – played a passive, or even negative, role during the making of the declaration. We especially disagree when Molbæk-Steensig implies that we somehow legitimise a far-right narrative designed to limit the system of human rights protection in Europe or subscribe to a reductionist concept of democracy.

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26 April 2018

Something Rotten in the State of Denmark?

The final version of the Copenhagen Declaration has turned out to be a lot less dramatic than the original draft led many observers to believe. This leaves several questions of why. Why did Denmark, traditionally a frontrunner country, create a draft declaration so regressive it gave rise to harsh critiques from the Council of Europe Assembly, from academia and from civil society? Why was the Danish Minister of Justice glossing over the content of the declaration? Why has the Danish Institute of Human Rights been so relatively quiet throughout the whole debacle?

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27 February 2017

Stateless persons’ entitlement to citizenship – and Denmark’s call for dilution of state obligations in this regard

The UN statelessness convention obliges member states to grant citizenship to persons born on their soil who would otherwise be stateless. Denmark, with very little success so far, is pushing for a renegotiation of that obligation, allegedly for security reasons. What is behind this effort? Could maybe the Danish initiative prove even beneficial by laying the ground for more international cooperation on citizenship law matters?

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30 January 2017
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Legal Disintegration? The Ruling of the Danish Supreme Court in AJOS

On December 6, 2016, the Supreme Court of Denmark (SCDK) ruled in the Ajos case. The ruling will be read, remembered and taught as an example of defiance of clear guidelines from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) by the highest court in Denmark. EU law is an exterior phenomenon but part and parcel of Danish law. It follows that switching it off, as in Ajos, necessarily entails applying one law by breaking another. That is not a viable path for any legal system taking supranational obligations seriously.

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22 February 2016

The prince of Denmark facing mass immigration – from Germany.

How would Denmark react to a wave of mass immigration from Germany, numbering hundreds of thousands or millions of people? The question is, needles to say, purely hypothetical, but it is nevertheless, in my view, highly pertinent in the context of discussing the issues raised in Liav Orgad’s important book, The Cultural Defense of Nations. These questions are at the very heart of Europe’s present concerns and dilemmas, which makes the book’s highly original, learned and well-argued contribution to the debate all the more valuable.

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13 September 2014

Mann oder Frau – keine Frage für Experten

Ob man Däne ist oder Dänin, darüber soll künftig niemand anders Auskunft geben […]

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