Denmark

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

2

Detained children

2017

2

Long-term centres

2018

3,565

New asylum applications

2019

37,533

Refugees

2019

Overview

Denmark has pursued increasingly restrictive immigration and asylum policies. During the past three years, the country has adopted some 70 immigration-related amendments aimed at intensifying restrictions, dramatically cut back its asylum recognition rate, and called for detaining as many failed refugees as possible. Observers have repeatedly criticised the penitentiary-like conditions of Denmark’s main immigration detention centre as well as inadequate efforts to identify victims of torture, who can be subject to detention.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

25 August 2020

Department of Prisons and Probations - Corrections, (Kriminalforsorgen, Department of Prisons and Probation, accessed on 25 August 2020, https://www.europris.org/agency/department-of-prisons-and-probation-dk__trashed/)
Department of Prisons and Probations - Corrections, (Kriminalforsorgen, Department of Prisons and Probation, accessed on 25 August 2020, https://www.europris.org/agency/department-of-prisons-and-probation-dk__trashed/)

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s (GDP) Covid-19 survey, the Danish Department of Prisons and Probations said that there is one main special detention centre for immigration detainees, which it administers (according to GDP data, while Denmark has one long-standing dedicated facility, the Ellebaek Detention Centre, it has recently used other facilities for detaining migrants and/or asylum seekers, including Aabenraa Prison and Nykøbing Falster Arrest). The department said that because the police and the courts decide whether a non-citizen should be detained, it was unable to respond to most of the questions on the GDP survey. The department added that new immigration and asylum policies are the responsibility of the Ministry of Immigration. The department also reported that the testing of detainees in the special detention centre is supposed to be carried out on the initiative of medical staff. After the onset of the pandemic, all visits that were not considered absolutely necessary were suspended and internal measures were taken, including such as that detainees could only socialise with others from their own wing.


12 June 2020

Refugees in their Beds at the Refugee Tent Camp in Thisted, Northern Jutland, Denmark in 2016, (Sara Gangsted/EPA,
Refugees in their Beds at the Refugee Tent Camp in Thisted, Northern Jutland, Denmark in 2016, (Sara Gangsted/EPA, "Denmark refugees feel left out from lauded coronavirus policies," AlJazeera, 6 April 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/denmark-refugees-feel-left-lauded-coronavirus-policies-200403131644645.html)

In response to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Danish Ombudsman’s office, which also acts as the country’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), forwarded to the GDP a letter it had sent to the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), the international body established by the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. The letter was issued on 27 April following a request from the SPT for information from NPMs about their activities in response to Covid-19.

The letter reported that the Danish Ombudsman’s office halted visits to detention sites on 12 March to reduce the risk of spreading infection. The Ombudsman's office also confirmed, in telephone conversation with the Global Detention Project, that this included visits to immigration detention facilities. Monitoring would still take place through data and information collection.

Regarding the Prison and Probation Service, the Ombudsman’s office reported that:

- Prisoners were not allowed to receive visitors apart from lawyers and priests; they were not allowed to go on leave; if they presented any Covid-19 symptoms, prisoners would be isolated and the prisoners’ right to normal community would be restricted to 10 persons or less;
- Prisoners were allowed more telephone time - in “open” prisons, prisoners had access to their mobile phones in order to FaceTime; leave days could be accumulated for later use; a medical doctor would be informed on the suspicion of Covid-19;
- As of 12 March 2020, the Prison and Probation Service decided not to receive new prisoners;
- 20-25 prisoners had been isolated on the suspicion of Covid-19 contagion;
- Only one prisoner had tested positive for Covid-19; and
- The number of prisoners had decreased and the slight overcrowding ended on 1 April 2020. Approximately 96-97 percent of the capacity was in use of 14 April 2020.

The Danish Ombudsman’s office reported that no new places of detention had been established and no persons had been placed in quarantine without consent. The Ombudsman’s office had also received some 100 letters from inmates asking for a postponement of their imprisonment, although the Ombudsman’s office reported that it does not have the power to do so, which was communicated to the inmates.

The Ombudsman also said that they were in close contact with their partners, the Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) and the Danish Institution for Human Rights (DIHR). DIGNITY has published “Global guidance and recommendations on how to prevent and manage Covid-19 in prisons” and DIHR was in the process of analysing the various Covid-19 laws and regulations as to their coherence with human rights.

On 24 April, UNHCR thanked Denmark for its contribution ($14.8M USD) to support the organisation’s Covid-19 appeal to protect refugees and their host communities around the world from the threat of the pandemic. The contribution places Denmark among the top four country donors to UNCHR’s Covid-19 response efforts.

In their 5 May newsletter, ECRE reported that forced and voluntary returns were not being carried out and that departure deadlines for cases where departure dates were planned prior to the lock-down had been extended and were under review. They added that the government had not adopted any policy on the release of immigration detainees, leaving this question to judicial authorities. ECRE also reported that when asylum seekers are released from detention, they are directed to take up residence at an asylum centre pending the outcome of their case.

Denmark currently hosts 39,000 refugees and asylum seekers. The Ministry of Health has published fliers and educational videos in multiple languages to help refugees understand the new rules about Covid-19. The Danish Refugee Council used Facebook to help refugee students with their homework by matching them with local volunteers.


24 April 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has particularly affected refugees and migrants in Denmark - a country that has pursued increasingly restrictive immigration and asylum policies in recent years. Reports indicate that all integration programmes have been put on hold and language schools are closed. (Although the country has now tentatively started to ease its lockdown restrictions, these do not yet appear to have been restarted.)

Increasing the vulnerability of migrants is the fact that to get a permanent residence permit a person has to hold a full-time job for a certain period of time, but the crisis has made this nearly impossible and the government appears unwilling to ease this policy. According to a 6 April update on the European Commission's Web Site on Integration, "One of the requirements to get a permanent residence permit is holding a full-time job for a certain period, including at the time of the decision. A large number of applicants have now lost their jobs due to social distancing measures, but the minister of integration says no special considerations will be taken.”

Despite the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner call for member states to release migrants and asylum seekers in detention due to the crisis, Danish authorities have thus far refused to do so. According to the Minister of Integration, with returns now impossible and high risks of infection in closed facilities, any decision to release detainees would be up to the courts. Even in the midst of the pandemic, meanwhile, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration announced the launch of a new return office - the “Return Travel Agency” - which aims to increase deportations of people who lack valid visas and residency permits. (This announcement, however, is not a response to Covid-19.)

The Danish Refugee Council has set up a new hotline which will answer questions about the coronavirus in 25 languages. This line was set up in response to the need for information for inhabitants who are not fluent in Danish.


Last updated: May 2018

Denmark Immigration Detention Profile

 

KEY CONCERNS

  • Despite a drop in asylum applications, Denmark continues to aggressively pursue a highly restrictive migration agenda, adopting nearly 70 legal amendments tightening immigration laws between 2015-2018;
  • The country’s first instance refugee recognition rate has plunged, from 85 percent in 2015 to 36 percent in 2017;
  • The Minister of Immigration and Integration argues that the country should detain as many rejected asylum seekers as possible, “stretching” to the limit the country’s international obligations;
  • Since November 2015, the Minister of Immigration has been authorised to declare “special circumstances,” temporarily suspending safeguards, including timely court hearings, and narrowing the scope of the review of detention;
  • There is little or no access to timely and comprehensive statistics concerning detention in Denmark and the country does not provide data on the annual total number of immigration detainees;
  • Observers have repeatedly criticised the country's inadequate procedures for identifying victims of torture, who are at risk of being placed in immigration detention.

 

1. INTRODUCTION

During the last two decades, Denmark has undergone a dramatic shift in its migration policies and attitudes. Once regarded as a welcoming country for refugees and migrant workers, Denmark is now characterised by its highly restrictive immigration regime, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and hostility toward refugees. During the 2015-2018 period, the country adopted nearly 70 legal amendments tightening immigration laws.[1] Among the amendments was a controversial law requiring refugees to surrender cash and valuables worth more than 1,300 Euros as compensation for seeking asylum in the country.

An indication of the direction of Danish immigration policy was a planned 2016 visit by Danish authorities to Australia's controversial off-shore detention centre in Nauru to assess whether such a system could be replicated in Europe.[2] The visit was eventually cancelled following Nauru's announcement that it would not allow two of the delegation's members to enter the island due to their having publicly criticised Australia's immigration detention practices.

Denmark accommodates few refugees. In 2017, Parliament voted to refuse the UN's quota of 500 refugees, repeating the same decision it made in 2016 and 2017.[3] According to UNHCR, this decision made Denmark the only UN member to refuse to accept refugee quotas, despite Denmark being one of the first countries to sign the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.[4] Meanwhile, with growing restrictions, the number of asylum applicants has significantly decreased. In 2017, fewer than 3,500 applications were made—an 84 percent drop from 2015 and the lowest figure since 2008.[5]

Public officials frequently highlight their support for harsh policies to garner public support. For instance, in March 2017, the Immigration Minister launched a public celebration of the ratification of the 50th immigration amendment by posting to social media a photo of a celebratory cake featuring the number "50," which prompted a backlash from some segments of society.[6]  Speaking on the topic of rejected asylum seekers going underground, the minister was quoted as saying, "I think we should deprive as many rejected asylum seekers of their liberty as even possible. What this is about is how far we can stretch it in relation to the international conventions."[7]

The country's immigration detention policies have drawn criticism from both domestic and international rights watchdogs, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee against Torture, and the Human Rights Committee.[8] Particular concerns have been raised about the country's procedures for identifying victims of torture and placing them in detention, as well as the penitentiary-like conditions of Denmark’s main immigration detention centre, the Ellebaek Detention Centre. 

 

2. LAWS, POLICIES, PRACTICES

2.1 Key Norms. The 1983 Aliens Act (Consolidation Act No. 863 of 25 June 2013) (Bekendtgørelse af udlændingeloven), which has been amended several times, regulates Denmark’s immigration policy, including entry conditions, residence permits, and the expulsion and detention of non-citizens, including both undocumented migrants and asylum seekers.

2.2 Grounds for detention. Grounds for administrative immigration-related detention are provided in Articles 35-36 of the Aliens Act. Some of these grounds concern specifically asylum seekers (see section 2.3 Asylum Seekers). The Aliens Act also provides grounds for criminal prosecution and incarceration for immigration-related violations (see section 2.11 Criminalisation).

Article 36 of the Aliens Act sets out a general ground justifying detention. According to this, non-citizens may be detained if non-custodial measures are deemed insufficient to ensure the enforcement of a refusal of entry, expulsion, transfer, or retransfer of a non-citizen (Article 36(1)). The same provision also spells out several more precise grounds for detention: a person who has applied for a residence permit can be detained if they refuse to stay at a location designated by the authorities or fail to appear for an interrogation with the police or the Immigration Service (Article 36(2)); asylum seekers can be detained if they do not assist the authorities in establishing the rationale for asylum application (Article 36(4)) (for more on asylum seekers, see the subsection “Asylum Seekers” below); non-citizens who are scheduled to be deported may be detained if they do not cooperate with the police in making arrangements for their deportation (Article 36(5)-(8)).

According to Article 35(1a), a non-citizen who is not habitually residing in Denmark may be detained when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that he/she has committed a crime that may lead to expulsion under Articles 22-24 (including committing an infraction punishable with a three-year prison sentence, multiple infractions punishable with a year-long prison sentence, and several crimes spelled out in the Criminal Code). Article 35(1b) further provides for detention when a non-citizen violates a re-entry ban. Finally, under Article 35a, non-citizens can be detained if they repetitively breach reporting duties.

2.3 Asylum seekers. Article 36(4) of the Aliens Acts provides that asylum seekers can be detained if they do not assist authorities in substantiating their asylum applications, including by failing to appear for police or immigration questioning, or concealing information about their identity, nationality, or travel route. According to the Prison and Probation Service, 2,180 asylum seekers were detained on grounds set out in Article 36, as well as Article 35. By comparison, in 2012,1,494 asylum seekers were detained on these grounds.[9]

2.4 Children. Pursuant to Article 37(10) of the Aliens Act, children cannot be detained in prisons. According to UNICEF, in the absence of an alternative solution, children aged 15 - 17 may be placed in a local prison.[10] However, according to a source at the Danish Refugee Council, “unaccompanied minors and children in families are not detained under the rules on detention in the Danish Aliens Act. A child may be detained as a part of a criminal procedure, but detention will always be carried out in a dedicated facility.”[11]

Previously, children were detained at the Ellebaek facility with their parents in a special unit for families.[12] According to statistics provided by the Prison and Probation Service, Ellebaek Detention Centre and Aabenraa Prison confined a total of 119 children in 2011, and 146 in 2010.[13] However, after its 2014 visit to Ellebaek Centre, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) said that the facility was not a suitable location for holding children, as the environment was inappropriate and it did not offer the necessary support that children require. The committee therefore recommended that the country put an end to the detention of children at Ellebaek centre altogether.[14]

In 2011, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) noted with concern that there was no legal framework to facilitate the granting of residence permits to child victims of trafficking. The CRC urged the country to ensure that children who are suspected victims of trafficking are not imprisoned as a result of conditions that are the consequence of their having been trafficked, and that they are instead provided with specialised assistance. [15] During the subsequent review of Denmark’s implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 2017, the committee formulated a stronger recommendation. It urged the country to ensure that children are not, under any circumstances, placed in detention; to endeavour to place children in child-friendly accommodation under the protection of child authorities instead of asylum centres; and, in the meantime, to ensure that all unaccompanied children are placed in asylum centres specialised for the needs of minors, and to always ensure that siblings are kept together.[16]

2.5 Length of detention. Like Sweden, Denmark introduced a time limit on immigration detention in order to comply with the EU Returns Directive. Previously, the lack of a maximum permissible time limit on immigration detention drew criticism from human rights monitoring bodies, including the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.[17]

The Aliens Act sets out that the initial period of detention is not to exceed six months. The court may extend this period by another 12 months if deportation arrangements take longer because the detainee refuses to cooperate in the return process or there are delays in obtaining necessary travel documents (Article 37(8)). According to government sources, the average time a person spent at the Ellebaek facility in 2016 was 29 days.[18]

In 2015, the UN Committee against Torture stated that the 18-month detention limit for asylum seekers was "excessive." The committee thus recommended Denmark to reduce the length of administrative detention for asylum seekers (authorised under the Aliens Act) to as short a period as possible, bearing in mind that detention should be used as a measure of last resort.[19] In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee also recommended that Denmark should consider reducing the length of immigration detention.[20]

2.6 Procedural guarantees. According to Article 37(1)-(7) of the Aliens Act, a non-citizen deprived of liberty under Article 36 must be notified in writing about their detention and be brought before a court within three days in order for the court to rule on the lawfulness of their detention and its continuance. The individual must also be assigned legal counsel (Article 37(2)). According to government sources, detainees are always informed of the reason for their detention in a language they can understand.[21]

According to Article 37(3) of the Aliens Act, the decision order can be appealed in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 37 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Retsplejeloven). A decision from the District Court (Byretten) can be appealed to the High Court (either Østre Landsret or Vestre Landsret).

Following his 2009 visit to Denmark, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture welcomed the fact that a mandatory habeas corpus procedure existed and that free legal aid was provided to all migrants in detention. However, the Special Rapporteur noted that according to information received during his visit, in the preceding five years, the court had approved the prolongation of detention periods, as requested by the police, on all but two occasions. Furthermore the Special Rapporteur was also informed that during that same period, approximately 50 percent of detainees at the Ellebaek centre accepted an automatic prolongation of their detention by signing a document to that effect in advance. The Rapporteur found that the de facto procedure of legally challenging deprivation of liberty under article 37 of the Aliens Act was not sufficiently effective.[22]

Since the November 2015 amendment to the Aliens Act, the Minister of Immigration and Integration may, during periods of high numbers of arrivals, declare “special circumstances” which allow for the temporary suspension of some of the safeguards normally governing detention. For instance, court hearings no longer have to take place within 72 hours of arrest, but “as soon as possible” and only at the request of the applicant. In this context, courts need only assess the legality of the detention, and do not rule on the duration of its possible extension. Following a decision on the legality of detention in a particular case, there is no right for a second review within four weeks (Article 37(k)).[23] Article 37(k) has never been used. The provisions from the November 2015 amendments are currently under review by the Danish Parliament.[24]

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed concern regarding the postponement of judicial reviews of detention, as well as the decision for reviews to be dependent on detainees specifically requesting them. As the UN Refugee Agency noted, “Such a situation could also lead to arbitrariness, in that during times of high influx, decisions might be taken in haste, and the need for an automatic review of the legality of detention by an independent court of law be more important than ever.”[25]

In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee urged Denmark to repeal the November 2015 amendment introduced to the Aliens Act in order to ensure that, in all cases, detained migrants have full access to fundamental legal safeguards—in particular, to a judicial review of the legality of their detention.[26]

2.7 Detaining authorities and institutions. The Danish Immigration Service—which is under the authority of the Ministry of Immigration, Integration, and Housing—is the agency responsible for implementing immigration and asylum policies, including asylum procedures, family reunification, and visas.

The Danish Prison and Probation Service, which is responsible for managing Denmark's penal establishments, runs Ellebaek Detention Centre as well as prisons detaining non-citizens for immigration status related reasons, such as the Aabenraa Prison. Departure centres (Sjaelsmark and Kærshovedgård) are managed by the Immigration Service, but the Prison and Probation Service provides personnel (for more details on facilities, see “Detention Infrastructure” below).[27]

2.8 Non-custodial measures. Article 36 of the Aliens Act provides a general ground justifying detention, according to which non-citizens may be detained if non-custodial measures are deemed insufficient to ensure the enforcement of a refusal of entry, expulsion, transfer, or retransfer of non-citizen (Article 36(1)). The Aliens Act provides a number of non-custodial “alternatives to detention,” including: confiscation of passports; bail payment; residence at “an address determined by the police;” and reporting to the police at specified times. If the individual fails to abide by these measures, they can be forced to wear an electronic monitoring device (Article 34). In 2014, the European Commission reported that out of these measures, only residence restrictions, confiscation of passports, and reporting were employed in practice.[28]

In 2016, the Human Rights Committee urged Denmark to ensure that the detention of migrants and asylum seekers is reasonable, necessary, and proportionate in relation to the circumstances. This is in accordance with the committee’s general comment No. 35 (2014) on liberty and security of person, and that in practice, alternatives to detention are found.[29]

2.9 Regulation of detention conditions. The Aliens Act does not clearly designate places where migrants are to be detained. Instead, it merely provides that immigration detention should be enforced in “special facilities.” If that is not possible, immigration detainees must be kept separately from ordinary prisoners. Children, meanwhile, may not be detained in prisons (Article 37(10)). Article 37 stipulates that immigration detainees shall not be subject to limitations to their liberty, other than those required by the purpose of their detention and the maintenance of order and security at the place where they are detained.

Non-citizens are entitled to receive visitors and letters, and to communicate with the outside world. The Aliens Act sanctions the use of solitary confinement when this is judged necessary for obtaining information needed for assessing the legality of the non-citizen’s stay in Denmark or exploring the possibility of issuing a residence permit. The maximum length of solitary confinement is 4 weeks.

2.10 International monitoring. As a State Party to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Denmark receives regular monitoring visits from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), which inspects a sampling of detention-related facilities during each visit. The CPT’s reports based on these visits as well as government responses to its recommendations are posted on the CPT’s website.

In 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur visited Denmark[30] and in the past few years the country has received detention-related recommendations from the UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the UN Committee against Torture.[31]

2.11 Criminalisation. Part IX of the Aliens Act contains “penalty provisions.” Article 59(1) provides for a fine or imprisonment for up to six months when a non-citizen enters or leaves Denmark at a non-designated passport check-point, an individual stays in the country without the requisite permit, or an individual secures admission in to Denmark by deliberate misrepresentation.

Denmark has also enforced laws that punish citizens who provide basic forms of assistance to undocumented non-citizens. In March 2016, a high-profile Danish advocate for children’s rights was prosecuted and fined 3,000 Euros for helping transport Syrian refugees who sought to walk from Germany to Sweden. Under the Aliens Act, transporting undocumented non-citizens is a crime of human smuggling. According to police statistics, almost 280 people were charged under this provision during September 2015–February 2016.[32]

2.12 Transparency and access to information. The Global Detention Project was not able to learn the number of migrants detained on an annual basis in Denmark. The annual statistical yearbook published by the Danish Immigration Service does not include detention statistics.[33] The annual publication of the Prison and Probation Service provides the annual numbers of detained asylum seekers.[34] The Global Detention Project sent a query to the Prison Service asking for clarification about whether these statistics included all detainees[35] but had yet to receive a response at the time of this publication.

Previously, in March 2013, the Prison and Probation Service responded to the joint Access Info and Global Detention Project request for information giving daily average figures for detained non-citizens: 86 in 2012, 65 in 2011, 53 in 2010.[36] The Global Detention Project contacted both the Immigration Service and the Prison and Probation Service, yet none of these institutions were able to give the total number of migrants detained annually. However, the Prison and Probation Service told the Global Detention Project that on average the daily population in 2014 was 91.1 persons in Ellebaek and 1.3 in Aabenraa, compared to 77.1 and 1.4 in these institutions in 2015.[37]

2.13 Trends and statistics. According to statistics provided by the Prison and Probation Service, 2,180 asylum seekers were detained on grounds set out in Articles 35-36 of the Aliens Act in 2016; 1,926 in 2015; 1,477 in 2014; 1,558 in 2013; and 1,494 in 2012. Men constitute approximately 90 percent of immigration detainees.[38]

The Immigration Services recognition rate (in the first instance) for asylum seekers has dropped dramatically in recent years, from 85 percent in 2015 to 36 percent in 2017.[39]

 

3. DETENTION INFRASTRUCTURE

3.1 Summary. Denmark appears to use three facilities for the purposes of long-term immigration detention: one dedicated facility; the Ellebaek Detention Centre; one prison with a specialised migration section, the Aabenraa Prison; and Nykøbing Falster Arrest.

The Ellebaek Detention Centre (Ellebaek Prison and Probation Establishment for Asylum Seekers and Others Deprived of their Liberty, formerly Sandholm Prison) is the longest standing immigration facility with a capacity of 136.[40]

The Aabenraa Prison has a specialised 10-person unit where non-citizens on immigration charges can be held.[41]

The Nykøbing Falster Arrest, in operation since 2016, is used for detaining rejected asylum seekers.[42] The Prison and Probation Service has stated that it is preferable to detain rejected asylum seekers in Ellebaek so that Nykøbing can be used as an ordinary prison to relieve overcrowding in prisons, indicating that this facility is used for both administrative and criminal procedures.[43] However, according to a source with the Danish Refugee Council, Nykøbing ceased being used as a criminal prison in October 2017 and has been used exclusively for immigration-related reasons since the beginning of 2018.[44] As of March 2018, its capacity was 24.[45]

Non-citizens may also be confined in Vestre Fængse Prison for very brief periods, less than two days. They are held separately from other prisoners before being transferred to the Ellebaek facility. In 2015, 497 migrants passed through Vestre Fængse.[46] In general, if a person has been detained as a part of a criminal case and the detention has been upheld according to the Aliens Act after the criminal sentence has been carried out, the person can be briefly detained in one of various prisons across Denmark.[47] In 2013, the Prison and Probation Service informed Access Info and the Global Detention Project that migrants have occasionally been held in remand prisons. Reportedly, 127 non-citizens were detained in remand prisons in 2012; 82 in 2011; and 63 in 2010.[48]

Facilities that were formerly used by Denmark for immigration purposes include: the Vridsløselille Prison, which ceased operations in February 2018[49]; and a detention unit in Tønder Prison, which was similar to the one in Aabenraa Prison.[50]

3.2 Conditions at detention and departure facilities.

3.2a Ellebaek Detention Centre. Denmark’s principal secure immigration detention centre, the Ellebaek Detention Centre, was opened in late 1989 following criticism voiced in the country’s parliament over the practice of detaining migrants in remand prisons. The Ellebaek facility is run by the Prison and Probation Service, which is part of the Ministry of Justice. The facility is located on the site of former military barracks 25 kilometres north of Copenhagen. As of 2018, the centre's capacity was 136. In contrast, the capacity in 1990 was 40.[51]

There have not been any recent reports of overcrowding in Ellebaek. Statistics concerning the centre's daily detainee population, collected by the Global Detention Project, corroborate this. For instance, in February 2014 the centre was holding 105 non-citizens, of whom 87 were asylum seekers and 18 were pre-removal detainees. The detainee population included three women and one minor.[52] On 8 May 2008, Ellebaek confined 58 non-citizens, while in February 2008 it confined 72 people, including 8 women.[53] According to government sources, 41 non-citizens were detained at the facility on 1 November 2008, while 73 were detained on 7 November 2015.[54]

As of 2008, the facility was made up of five detention units, reportedly allowing for the separation of different categories and nationalities of detainees. There was one unit for women and another smaller one for families. Detainees suspected of planning to escape were detained in a high security unit. In addition, the facility tends to confine asylum seekers separately from pre-removal detainees, and 18 square metres-cells are shared by up to three people.[55]

In 2008, both the CPT and UN Special Rapporteur on Torture visited the facility. Both bodies noted that material conditions were “on the whole adequate” and “satisfactory,” but below the standards found in Danish prison establishments. In addition, the CPT found that detention units were in a run-down state wherein most of the cells needed cleaning, and recreational areas appeared to be in a bad state of repair. The CPT thus recommended that detention units are cleaned and refurbished, that bedding arrangements are improved, and that the environment is made more appealing.[56] During its 2014 visit, the CPT again noted that the material conditions in the centre were generally adequate, albeit basic, run down, and carceral. The committee subsequently recommended that Denmark maintain the centre in a decent state of repair.[57]

The penitentiary-like character of Ellebaek has repeatedly been the focus of criticism. During its 2015 review of Denmark, the UN Committee against Torture reported that Danish officials consider the centre’s prison-like structural layout and fixtures to be necessary for security reasons. The committee recommended that Denmark alter the layout and fixtures so as to change the carceral appearance of the centre.[58]

This recommendation echoed observations made by the CPT in 2008. The committee observed that detainees were free to move between units during the day and could participate in a variety of activities offered at the centre, including very basic remunerated work and at least one hour of outdoor exercise. That notwithstanding, the committee noted that the centre's regime was based mutatis mutandis on that found in Danish prisons, and thus did not sufficiently reflect the specificity of the establishment’s functions and subsequently limited the activities available. Similarly, it was observed that the centre used the same disciplinary system as prisons, however it did not have a security cell.[59]

In the CPT’s view, both detainees and staff would benefit from a regime specifically tailored to an establishment housing foreign nationals who are not serving criminal sentences, but who are being detained administratively with a view to enforcing deportation.[60] In 2015, the committee thus highlighted the centre's policy of preventing detainees from keeping their mobile phones, revealing that several had complained about the expenses and procedures in using pre-paid phone cards. In its report, the committee recommended that authorities permit detainees to use their own mobile devices.

As of 2008, the Ellebaek facility employed 55 full-time staff members, as well as three part-time security guards, four workshop supervisors, one teacher, one pedagogue, one gym instructor, and one maintenance worker. The CPT noted that the general atmosphere was relatively relaxed but that it had received several allegations of verbal abuse and racist behaviour.[61]

There are two nurses on duty during weekdays, and a doctor visits the centre twice a week. Access to medical care outside of these days is possible in emergencies, but it is the responsibility of prison officers to identify the detainee’s need for medical attention. It appears, however, that there is no access to mental health assistance at the facility. Detainees requiring psychiatric care have previously been transferred to the hospital adjacent to the Western Prison in Copenhagen or the psychiatric department of Hillerod Hospital.[62]

In 2015, the UN Committee against Torture found that admission procedures at the Ellebaek centre were insufficient—specifically, decisions regarding the fitness of non-citizens for detention, and the identification of victims of torture, which were made by a nurse. The committee also expressed concern that the centre lacked a system for treating victims of torture upon their identification during detention. The committee thus urged Denmark to: (a) put in place procedures for the systematic screening and medical examination of alleged torture victims by qualified personnel throughout the asylum process, including at places of detention such as the Ellebaek centre; and (b) ensure that victims of torture are not held in places where they are deprived of their liberty, and that they have prompt access to rehabilitation services.[63]

Following its 2014 visit, the CPT also urged Denmark to ensure that all newly admitted detainees are clinically assessed by a doctor (or a fully qualified nurse reporting to a doctor) as soon as possible. In addition, the CPT said that a screening system should be put in place to identify victims of torture.[64]

In 2013, the Medical Group of Amnesty International Denmark released a highly critical report regarding the treatment of victims of torture. Of 43 immigration detainees examined by the organisation, it found that 22 had been subjected to torture in their country of origin. Amnesty expressed concern regarding the lack of an appropriate monitoring system to ensure that victims of torture and other vulnerable persons are exempted from detention.[65] In the organisation's submission to the Universal Periodic Review in 2015, Amnesty echoed the CPT's calls for a screening system, stating that a monitoring system must be established, with the participation of medical specialists including psychiatrists, to identify torture survivors amongst asylum seekers, and to ensure that such individuals are not placed in detention.[66]

3.2b Departure Centres. Until February 2018, refused asylum-seekers facing deportation were housed in the non-secure Departure Centre Sjælsmark.[67] Since then, however, those who do not immediately leave the country are sent to the new non-secure Avnstrup Return Centre (hjemrejsecenter). Before being turned into a return centre, the facility had been used as an asylum centre. Operated by the Danish Red Cross, it has a capacity of 600.[68] On-site, rejected asylum seekers are divided into two categories: those who are considered to be cooperating with their departure and are permitted to stay in the facility, and those who are estimated to be unwilling to leave and who are subsequently transferred to one of the country's two non-secure departure centres (udrejsecentres)—either to the Departure Centre Sjælsmark (families) or to the Departure Centre Kærshovedgård (remaining non-citizens). All three of these centres are subject to a new "cafeteria scheme," whereby rejected asylum seekers are served food at fixed times of day instead of being provided with money that allows them to buy the food they would like to cook for themselves. This new procedure is part of the government’s plan to better control rejected asylum seekers and to more efficiently return them to their countries of origin.[69]

The Departure Centre Sjælsmark[70] opened in early 2015 on the premises of a former military base. As of March 2016, the centre was able to accommodate 130 persons, but this was planned to be extended to 400-700. Although it reportedly resembles a penitentiary—it is run by the Prison Service, has high metal fences, and employs armed guards—the centre does not operate like a prison or a detention centre because, while detainees are obliged to stay overnight, they can leave the facility during the day. (Absence for a few days, however, is punished with detention at the closed Ellebaek centre.) Detainees are checked when leaving and re-entering the centre, and there are guards inside the premises. Most of the rooms are double-rooms, there is a nurse on-site, and food is served three times a day.[71]

The Departure Centre Kærshovedgård, which was opened in March 2016 in Jutland, has a substantially larger capacity of 600.[72] Like Sjælsmark, Kærshovedgård does not operate as a detention centre. However, its remote location, poor living conditions, and impossibility for many to return to their countries of origin renders the situation intolerable for the centre’s residents. According to a scholar at Aalborg University: “This is a very serious situation, due in part to the very rationale behind such expulsion centres. They are built on a logic that people can be motivated to leave the country. This means that the centre’s main function is to impose living conditions so intolerable that people will leave. Consequently, [the centres] are not created in a way that allows for a normal, healthy life.”[73]

 

[1] M. Barrett, “Denmark Asylum Applications Lowest for Ten Years: Ministry,” The Local, 3 January 2018, https://www.thelocal.dk/20180103/denmark-asylum-applications-lowest-for-ten-years-ministry

[2] K.J. Andersen and T. Foght, “Danske politikere skal besøge udskældt australsk flygtningelejr,“ Radio 24syv, 23 August 2016, https://www.radio24syv.dk/udvalgte-nyhedshistorier/danske-politikere-skal-besoege-udskaeldt-australsk-flygtningelejr/; M.G. Bochenek, “Danish Lawmakers Will Find Nauru No Model for Europe,” Human Rights Watch, 2 September 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/09/02/danish-lawmakers-will-find-nauru-no-model-europe; P. Farrell, “Danish MP Confirms Visit to Nauru Camp at Heart of Offshore Detention Outcry,” The Guardian, 23 August 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/23/danish-politicians-seek-to-visit-nauru-site-at-heart-of-offshore-detention-outcry

[3] Ritzau/The Local, “Denmark Extends Block on UN Quota Refugees,“ The Local, 29 November 2017, https://www.thelocal.dk/20171129/denmark-continues-block-on-un-quota-refugees

[4] The Local, "Denmark Extends Block on UN Quota Refugees," The Local, 29 November 2017, https://www.thelocal.dk/20171129/denmark-continues-block-on-un-quota-refugees

[5] Udlaendinge – og Integrationsministeriet, “Danmark fik i 2017 det laveste antal asylansøgere i ni år,” 3 January 2018, http://uim.dk/nyheder/2018-01/danmark-fik-i-2017-det-laveste-antal-asylansogere-i-ni-ar/newsitem_view?success=yes ; A. Mohdin, "Denmark is so Inhospitable to Refugees that Asylum Requests Dropped 84% in Two Years," Quartz, 4 January 2018, https://qz.com/1171331/asylum-seekers-in-denmark-number-of-applications-has-fallen-by-84-since-2015/

[6] L. Pasha-Robinson, “Danish Minister Sparks Furious Backlash after Celebrating Tougher Immigration Laws with Cake,” The Independent, 16 March 2017, https://ind.pn/2Htdn76

[7] M.W. Mortensen and A. Thieden, "Jeg har ingen fine fornemmelser i forhold til at frihedsberøve afviste asylansøgere – tværtimo," Berlingske, 13 April 2017, https://www.b.dk/nationalt/jeg-har-ingen-fine-fornemmelser-i-forhold-til-at-frihedsberoeve-afviste

[8] Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations: Denmark, CRC/C/DNK/CO/4," 7 April 2011, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx; Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Concluding Observations on the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of Denmark, CAT/C/DNK/CO/6-7," 4 February 2016, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx; Human Rights Committee, "Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of Denmark, CCPR/C/DNK/CO/6," 15 August 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[9] When an individual is transferred during their detention period, the individual will be recorded twice.  Kriminal Forsorgen, “Årlige statistikberetninger,” http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/%C3%85rlige-statistikberetninger-7541.aspx

[10] UNICEF, "Protected on Paper? An Analysis of Nordic Country Responses to Asylum-Seeking Children," 2018, https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/NORDIC%2028%20LOWRES.pdf

[11] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Email exchange with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), May 2018.

[12] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," 25 September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf

[13] Prison and Probation Service, Response to Access Info Europe and the Global Detention Project Freedom of Information Request, 25 March 2013.

[14] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Danish Government on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25," 17 September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf

[15] Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations: Denmark, CRC/C/DNK/CO/4," 7 April 2011, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[16]  Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Concluding Observations on the Fifth Periodic Report of Denmark, CRC/C/DNK/CO/5, " 26 October 2017, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[17]  Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Report to the Government of Denmark on the visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," 25 September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf

[18] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), "Committee against Torture Considers Report of Denmark, " Press Release, 7 November 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16769&LangID=E

[19] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Concluding Observations on the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of Denmark, CAT/C/DNK/CO/6-7," 4 February 2016, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[20] Human Rights Committee, "Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of Denmark, CCPR/C/DNK/CO/6," 15 August 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[21] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), "Committee against Torture Considers Report of Denmark," Press Release, 7 November 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16769&LangID=E

[22] Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[23] UNHCR Regional Representation for Northern Europe, "UNHCR Observations on Amendments to the Danish Aliens Act as Set Out in Lovforslag nr. L 62: Lov om ændring af udlændingeloven (Håndtering af flygtninge- og migrantsituationen)," January 2016, https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/1279094/1930_1452673777_5694ecf64.pdf

[24] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Letter to Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), 25 May 2018.

[25] UNHCR Regional Representation for Northern Europe, "UNHCR Observations on Amendments to the Danish Aliens Act as Set Out in Lovforslag nr. L 62: Lov om ændring af udlændingeloven (Håndtering af flygtninge- og migrantsituationen)," January 2016, https://www.ecoi.net/en/file/local/1279094/1930_1452673777_5694ecf64.pdf

[26] Human Rights Committee, "Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of Denmark, CCPR/C/DNK/CO/6," 15 August 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[27] Ole Kjeld Hansen (Prison and Probation Service), email correspondance with Izabella (Global Detention Project), March-April 2016; Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief, " 2014, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/Download.aspx?file=Files%2FFiler%2FFoldere%2Fkort_og_godt_UK_juni+2015.pdf; Bodil Philip and Arne Stevns, “Report on Centres for Foreign Nationals and Deportation Centres in Denmark," The Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, May 2017, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/DNK/INT_CCPR_NGS_DNK_29403_E.docx

[28] European Commission, "Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on EU Return Policy, COM(2014) 199," 28 March 2014, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/com/com_com(2014)0199_/com_com(2014)0199_en.pdf

[29] Human Rights Committee, "Concluding Observations on the Sixth Periodic Report of Denmark, CCPR/C/DNK/CO/6," 15 August 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[30] Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[31]  Human Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Sweden, CCPR/C/SWE/CO/7, 28 April 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/SEIndex.aspx; Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 44 of the Convention: Concluding Observations: Denmark, CRC/C/DNK/CO/4," 7 April 2011, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx; Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Concluding Observations on the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of Denmark, CAT/C/DNK/CO/6-7," 4 February 2016, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[32] David Crouch, "Danish children’s rights activist fined for people trafficking," The Guardian, 11 March 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/11/danish-childrens-rights-activist-lisbeth-zornig-people-trafficking

[33] Danish Immigration Service, Statistical Overview: Migration and Asylum 2015, 2016, https://www.nyidanmark.dk/NR/rdonlyres/6460D4F5-F48B-4724-9ED6-0BCD97683104/0/StatisticalOverview2015.pdf

[34] Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief," 2017, www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/DWSDownload.aspx?File=%2fFiles%2fFiler%2fPublikationer%2fAarsberetninger%2fKriminalforsorgens+Statistik+2016.pdf

[35] Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), Online Form, Prison and Probation Service website, 20 March 2018.

[36] Susanne Hildebrandt (Prison and Probation Service), email response to the joint Access Info and Global Detention Project request, March 2013.

[37] Ole Kjeld Hansen (Prison and Probation Service), Email correspondance with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), March-April 2016. 

[38] When an individual is transferred during their detention period, the individual will be recorded twice.  Kriminal Forsorgen, “Årlige statistikberetninger,” http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/%C3%85rlige-statistikberetninger-7541.aspx

[39] Michala Clante Bendixen, “What Are the Chances of Being Granted Asylum?” Refugees.dk, 29 January 2018, http://refugees.dk/en/facts/numbers-and-statistics/what-are-the-chances-of-being-granted-asylum/

[40] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Letter to Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), 25 May 2018; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Danish Government on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25,, September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf; Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief," 2014, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/Download.aspx?file=Files%2FFiler%2FFoldere%2Fkort_og_godt_UK_juni+2015.pdf; Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief," 2017, www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/DWSDownload.aspx?File=%2fFiles%2fFiler%2fPublikationer%2fAarsberetninger%2fKriminalforsorgens+Statistik+2016.pdf

[41] Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief, " 2014, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/Download.aspx?file=Files%2FFiler%2FFoldere%2Fkort_og_godt_UK_juni+2015.pdf

[42] Folketidende, “Afviste asylansøgere ind i Nykøbing arrest,” Folketidende, https://folketidende.dk/Lokal-nyt/Afviste-asylansoegere-ind-i-Nykoebing-arrest/artikel/457056, Kriminal Forsorgen, "Statistik," 2016, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/%C3%85rlige-statistikberetninger-7541.aspx

[43] A. Lundbye, “Fængselsbetjente vil bruge arrest til dens oprindelige formål,” TV øst, 11 March 2018, https://www.tveast.dk/artikel/faengselsbetjente-vil-bruge-arrest-til-dens-oprindelige-formaal

[44] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Letter to Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), 25 May 2018.

[45] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Letter to Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), 25 May 2018..

[46] Ole Kjeld Hansen (Prison and Probation Service), Email correspondance with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), March-April 2016; Kirstine Løkke Degn Borg (Danish Immigration Service), Email correspondence with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), March-April 2016.

[47] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Letter to Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), 25 May 2018.

[48] Susanne Hildebrandt (Prison and Probation Service), response to access to information request (Access Info and Global Detention Project), March 2013.

[49] Kriminal Forsorgen, “Vridsløselille Fængsel lægges i dvale,” 23 January 2018, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Presse-8407.aspx#/news/vridsloeselille-faengsel-laegges-i-dvale-291079

[50] Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief," 2009, http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/sites/default/files/fileadmin/docs/Danish_Prison_and_Probation_Service_-_In_Brief.pdf

[51] Anne Lund Preisler Herbst (Danish Refugee Council), Letter to Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), 25 May 2018; Prison and Probation Service, "Statistik 2016" 2017, www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/DWSDownload.aspx?File=%2fFiles%2fFiler%2fPublikationer%2fAarsberetninger%2fKriminalforsorgens+Statistik+2016.pdf; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Report to the Danish Government on the visit to Denmark Carried ut by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25," September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Put by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 2 to 8 December 1990, CPT/Inf (91) 12," October 1991, https://rm.coe.int/1680695692 

[52] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Danish Government on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25," September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf

[53] Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf

[54] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), "Committee Against Torture Considers Report of Denmark: Press Release," 7 November 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16769&LangID=E; Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[55] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf

[56] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf; Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[57] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Danish Government on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25," September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf

[58] Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Concluding Observations on the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of Denmark, CAT/C/DNK/CO/6-7," 4 February 2016, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[59] Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[60] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf

[61] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf

[62] European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Danish Government on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25," September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf; European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Government of Denmark on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 11 to 20 February 2008, CPT/Inf (2008) 26," September 2008, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2008-26-inf-eng.pdf; Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak: Addendum: Mission To Denmark, A/HRC/10/44/Add.2," 18 February 2009, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[63] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, "Concluding Observations on the Combined Sixth and Seventh Periodic Reports of Denmark, CAT/C/DNK/CO/6-7," 4 February 2016, http://ohchr.org/EN/countries/ENACARegion/Pages/DKIndex.aspx

[64]  European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), "Report to the Danish Government on the Visit to Denmark Carried Out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 4 to 13 February 2014, CPT/Inf (2014) 25," September 2014, http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/dnk/2015-16-inf-eng.pdf

[65]  Amnesty International, "Denmark: Human Rights in Review: 2011-2015: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January - February 2016," 2015, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur18/2332/2015/en/; Amnesty Internationals Danske Lægegruppe, "Frihedsberøvede asylansøgere i Ellebæk," 2013, https://amnesty.dk/media/1874/frihedsber__vede_asylans__gere_i_elleb__k_2013.pdf

[66] Amnesty International, "Denmark: Human Rights in Review: 2011-2015: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review, January - February 2016," 2015, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur18/2332/2015/en/

[67] Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief," 2014, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/Download.aspx?file=Files%2FFiler%2FFoldere%2Fkort_og_godt_UK_juni+2015.pdf

[68] The Danish Immigration Service, “About 70 Rejected Asylum Seekers Transferred to Newly Established Transit Centre,” 23 February 2018, https://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-GB/News-Front-Page/2018/02/Cirka-70-afviste-asylansoegere--til-nyt-hjemrejsecenter

[69]  Udlaendinge – og Integrationsministeriet, “Asylcenter Avnstrup bliver nyt hjemrejsecenter,” December 2017, http://uim.dk/nyheder/2017/2017-12/asylcenter-avnstrup-bliver-nyt-hjemrejsecenter

[70] Prison and Probation Service, "The Danish Prison and Probation Service – in Brief," 2014, http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/Admin/Public/Download.aspx?file=Files%2FFiler%2FFoldere%2Fkort_og_godt_UK_juni+2015.pdf

[71] Negar, “Is this a Prison?: Inside the New Departure Center – Sjaelsmark,” New Times, 2015, No. 93, https://issuu.com/robinsandholm/docs/newtimes__93_spring_2015; Kirstine Løkke Degn Borg (Danish Immigration Service), Email correspondence with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project), March-April 2016.

[72] C.U. Bank, “Facts About The New Return Center Kærshovedgaard,“ New Times, 201, No. 98, http://newtimes.dk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/nt98_ver5_200dpi.pdf

[73] M. Barret, "Denmark Rejected Asylum Seekers Hunger Strike Against 'Intolerable' Circumstances,“ The Local, 21 October 2017, https://www.thelocal.dk/20171021/rejected-asylum-seekers-at-denmark-deportation-centre-hunger-strike-in-bid-to-bring-attention-to-intolerable-circumstances

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Total number of immigration detainees by year
Not Available
2019
Total number of detained minors
2
2017
119
2011
146
2010
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
1,135
2018
1,105
2017
1,390
2016
2,165
2015
2,165
2015
515
2014
395
2013
630
2012
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
368
2016
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
2
2018
2
2016
1
2012
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
358
2016
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
0
2018
Number of immigration offices
0
2018
Number of transit facilities
0
2018
Number of ad hoc facilities
0
2018
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
1,695
2018
1,590
2017
1,485
2016
2,655
2015
1,400
2014
2,070
2013
1,375
2012
Number of deportations/forced returns only
1,655
2018
1,470
2017
1,305
2016
2,480
2015
1,315
2014
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
48.2
2014
Criminal prison population
3,635
2018
3,408
2016
4,091
2013
Percentage of foreign prisoners
28.6
2018
28
2016
26.8
2013
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
63
2018
59
2016
73
2013
Population
5,800,000
2020
5,669,000
2015
6,600,000
2012
International migrants
722,878
2019
656,800
2017
572,500
2015
556,800
2013
International migrants as a percentage of the population
11.5
2017
10.1
2015
9.9
2013
Refugees
37,533
2019
36,631
2018
35,672
2017
33,436
2016
27,326
2015
13,170
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
5.89
2016
3.15
2014
2.13
2012
Total number of new asylum applications
3,565
2019
8,789
2016
14,774
2014
7,529
2012
Refugee recognition rate
51.2
2014
Stateless persons
7,610
2016
4,984
2015
4,263
2014

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
60,707
2014
58,930
2013
Remittances to the country
1,377
2014
1,287
2011
Remittances from the country
2,888
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
2,693
2012
2,931
2011
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
4 (Very high)
2015
10 (Very high)
2014

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Civil law
Constitutional guarantees?
Yes (Constitution of Denmark, article 71) 1953 1953
1953
Core pieces of national legislation
1983 Aliens Act (Consolidation Act No. 863 of 25 June 2013) (1983) 2015
1983
Immigration-status-related grounds
Detention to effect removal
2016
Detention for failing to respect non-custodial measures
2016
Detention during the asylum process
2016
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Yes (Yes)
2014
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Unauthorized entry (183)
2014
Unauthorised stay (183)
2014
Unauthorized exit (183)
2014
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
540
2016
Provision of basic procedural standards
Right to legal counsel (Yes) Yes
2020
Information to detainees (Yes) Yes
2015
Types of non-custodial measures
Designated non-secure housing (Yes) Yes
2014
Supervised release and/or reporting (Yes) Yes
2014
Registration (deposit of documents) (Yes) Yes
2014
Release on bail (Yes) No
2014
Electronic monitoring (Yes) No
2014
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Accompanied minors (Provided) No
2020
Unaccompanied minors (Provided) No
2020
Asylum seekers (Provided) Yes
2016
Accompanied minors () Yes
2014

INTERNATIONAL LAW

International treaty reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
CRC Article 40 1991
1991
1991
Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
CRC, [Third] Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child establishing a communications procedure, 2011 2015
2015
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014
2014
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2000
2000
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention 1987
1987
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention 1985
1985
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 1972
1972
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
6/7
6/7
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Recommendation Year
Human Rights Committee 32. The State party should, while taking measures to control immigration, ensure their full compliance with the rights of migrants, including asylum seekers, as protected under the Covenant. In particular, the State party should: [...] (b) Ensure that the detention of migrants and asylum seekers is reasonable, necessary and proportionate in the light of the circumstances, in accordance with the Committee’s general comment No. 35 (2014) on liberty and security of person, and that alternatives to detention are found in practice; (c) Consider reducing the length of detention for migrants and asylum seekers who are awaiting deportation and improve the detention conditions of such persons, in particular at the detention facility of Vridsløselille; (d) Repeal the amendment introduced to the Aliens Act in November 2015 in order to ensure that, in all cases, detained migrants have full access to fundamental legal safeguards, in particular to judicial review of the legality of their detention; [...] 2016
2016
Committee against Torture

§ 25: (a) Reduce the length of administrative detention of asylum seekers authorized under the Aliens Act for as short a period as possible, bearing in mind that detention should be used as a measure of last resort; 

(b) Ensure that facilities accommodating asylum seekers are appropriate for their status and situations, especially as some of them may be victims of torture or ill-treatment. As such, the State party should alter layout and fixtures so as to change the carceral appearance of facilities hosting asylum seekers. 

2016
2016
Committee on the Rights of the Child

§ 62: The Committee urges the State party to take effective measures to safeguard the rights of children in their territory, especially those of unaccompanied children, to ensure that they do not fall prey to trafficking. In so doing, the Committee urges the State party: (a) To ensure that children who are suspected victims of trafficking will not be imprisoned as a result of conditions which are the consequence of them being trafficked , and that they are provided with specialized assistance services;

2011
2011
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
CPCSE, Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse 2009
2009
ECHR, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (commonly known as the European Convention on Human Rights 1953
1953
ECHRP1, Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 1953
1953
ECHRP7, Protocol 7 to the European Convention on Human Rights (amended by protocol 11) 1988
1988
ECPT, European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment 1989
1989
CATHB, Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings 2007
2007
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) "The CPT recommends that the Danish authorities put an end to the detention of children at Ellebæk, in the light of the above remarks. §78: The CPT recommends that efforts be made to maintain the establishment in a decent state of repair and to limit the carceral environment to a minimum. Further, arrangements should be made to ensure that regular activities are not cancelled due to lack of staff. Consideration should also be given to extending the possibilities for detained persons to cook their own food. §79: The CPT recommends that the Danish authorities ensure that every newly-arrived detainee is clinically assessed by a medical doctor or by a fully qualified nurse reporting to a doctor, as soon as possible after his/her admission to Ellebæk. Such health-care screening should be conducted in an appropriate and confidential setting. §81: The CPT recommends that the Danish authorities make the necessary arrangements for interpretation services to be provided when required, taking into account the above remarks. §82: The CPT recommends that the Danish authorities takes steps to improve the provision of information to irregular migrants from the outset of their detention and that they improve the possibilities for contact with the outside world such as permitting persons detained at Ellebæk to possess mobile phones, in the light of the above remarks.

2014
2014
2014
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

§17: persons detained under the Aliens Act to be guaranteed a right of access to a lawyer as from the very outset of their custody; §82: custodial staff at the Elleboek Institution to be reminded that they must always treat detainees in their custody with respect; §85: efforts to be made to clean and refurbish the detention units of the Elleboek Institution, to improve the bedding arrangements and to make the environment more appealing; §90: the Danish authorities to take urgent steps to introduce systematic medical screening of all persons admitted to the Elleboek Institution as soon as possible after their admission; §91: measures to be taken to ensure regular attendance by a psychiatrist and a psychologist at the Elleboek Institution and to step up psycho-social interventions; §95: steps to be taken to ensure that the information leaflet about the administrative detention of foreigners and the regime applicable is systematically provided to all detained persons upon their arrival at the Elleboek Institution

2008
2008
2008
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Year in Force
Observation Date
Germany 1954
1954
2017
Estonia 1997
1997
2017
Finland 1957
1957
2017
Latvia 1997
1997
2017
Sweden 1957
1957
2017
Iceland 1957
1957
2017
Norway 1957
1957
2017
Switzerland 2013
2013
2017
Armenia 2004
2004
2017
Bosnia and Herzegovina 2004
2004
2017
Macedonia 2007
2007
2017
Georgia 2016
2016
2017
Moldova 2011
2011
2017
Montenegro 2003
2003
2017
Serbia 2003
2003
2017
Russian Federation 2011
2011
2017
Ukraine 2009
2009
2017
Sri Lanka 1998
1998
2017
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Year of Visit
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment 2008
2008
2016
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures
Recommendation Year
Observation Date
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

§ 75: With regard to detention of foreigners and asylum-seekers the Special Rapporteur, while being encouraged by the low number of asylum-seekers in detention as compared with some other European countries, is concerned by the fact that there is no maximum period for such administrative detention. Prolonged deprivation of liberty for administrative reasons without knowing the length of the detention may amount to inhuman and degrading treatment. Furthermore, although mandatory habeas corpus proceedings exist, the Special Rapporteur received information indicating that legal challenges to administrative deprivation of liberty of foreigners are not effective in practice.

2009
2009
2009
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
Yes 2016
2017
Yes 2011

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized system
2016
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Centralized immigration authority
2016
Custodial authority
Department of Prison and Probation (Ministry of Justice) Justice
2016
Detention Facility Management
Danish Prison and Probation Service (Governmental)
2016
Danish Prison and Probation Service (Governmental)
2009
Formally designated detention estate?
Yes ()
2016
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Yes () Yes
2016
Authorized monitoring institutions
The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2016
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) (International or Regional Bodies (IRBs))
2014
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Yes
2016
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Yes
2017
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Yes
2017
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Yes
2019
Yes
2014
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Yes
2019
Yes
2014