U.N. refugee agency scorns Denmark's law on asylum claims

by Reuters
Friday, 4 June 2021 06:22 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Police organize the line of refugees at on the stairway leading up from the trains arriving from Denmark at the Hyllie train station outside Malmo, Sweden, November 19, 2015. REUTERS/Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency

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If the law takes effect, it could lead to the forcible transfer of asylum seekers and an abdication of Denmark's responsibility to protect vulnerable refugees, the U.N. refugee agency said

GENEVA, June 4 (Reuters) - The U.N. refugee agency has voiced strong opposition to a law passed by Denmark's parliament that would allow processing of claims lodged by asylum seekers outside Europe, calling it an "abdication" of its responsibility under international law.

Denmark on Thursday passed a law enabling it to process asylum seekers outside Europe, drawing anger from human rights advocates and the European Commission.

Filippo Grandi, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in an overnight statement that if the law took effect, it could lead to the forcible transfer of asylum seekers and an abdication of Denmark's responsibility to protect vulnerable refugees.

"UNHCR strongly opposes efforts that seek to externalise or outsource asylum and international protection obligations to other countries," he said.

His agency had raised repeatedly its concerns and objections to the Danish government's proposal and offered advice and pragmatic alternatives, he said.

Denmark already has one of Europe's harshest stances on immigration and aims to only accept refugees under the UN's quota system.

The new law will allow Denmark to move refugees arriving on Danish soil to asylum centres in a partner country to have their cases reviewed, and to possibly obtain protection in that country. Denmark has yet to reach an agreement with a partner country, but it has said it is negotiating with several candidate countries.

"UNHCR will continue to engage in discussions with Denmark, which remains a valuable and long-standing partner to UNHCR, in order to find practical ways forward that ensure the confidence of the Danish people and uphold Denmark's international commitments," Grandi said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Hugh Lawson)