As It Happens

Denmark wants to seize jewelry and other valuables from refugees

The majority of Denmark's parliament agrees on a proposal to seize jewelry and other valuables of refugees when they arrive in the country. But an opposition leader says the plan is absurd.
Migrants, who came from Germany by ferry and train Sunday night, walk from Rodby in southern Denmark towards Sweden on Monday Sept. 7, 2015. Most of the migrants came from Syria, and wished to continue to Sweden where they will seek asylum. (AP)

The Danish government is taking an even harder line against refugees. In September, the government took out a series of ads the in Lebanese newspapers, meant to discourage refugees from coming to their country and now they are putting forward more aggressive tactics.

Something completely rotten is happening in Denmark- Uffe Elbaek
Earlier this month, the parliament tabled a proposal to give police the power to seize jewelry and other valuables from refugees as a way of finding assets to cover their expenses. The bill has majority support and is very likely to pass in the New Year.
Uffe Elbaek, leader of Denmark's Alternative Party. (Uffe Elbæk)

"I think it's outrageous and it makes me really feel bad about me as a Dane and the Danish society," Uffe Elbaek tells As It Happens co-host Carol Off. "I know that's not the way the Danes are, or want to be, but I think it's an awful political suggestion from the government."

Elbaek is the leader of the green Alternative Party. He explains that the current government strategy is to limit the refugee flow to Denmark through imposing extreme restrictions like this legislation. Elbaek adds that if passed, police will have the authority to take away all personal belongings from refugees, including money.

"It's like an echo from the 30s," Elbaek argues. "Of course this is not the same context in Denmark but it creates the same kinds of pictures in peoples' minds and the same kinds of emotions. It has been highly criticized both in the public, from the citizens, but of course, also from various human rights organizations in Denmark."
Refugees, mainly from Syria, speak with a Danish policeman after arriving in Rodby, southern Denmark, from Germany on Sept. 7, 2015. (BAX LINDHARDT/AFP/Getty Images)

Elbaek says he is ashamed to be a member of the Danish Parliament when he considers how his government stands in stark contrast to other countries like Canada that are welcoming refugees.

"[It will] send a very strong signal to the refugees saying 'You are actually not welcome,' and this is not something under the radar," Elbaek explains. "It's very frank, said openly by the prime minister that we don't want Denmark to be attractive as a refugee country."

To hear the full interview please select the Listen audio link above.


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