Denmark is likely to become the first EU country to deal with asylum seekers outside Europe, in a government proposal that has angered human rights advocates.
The country’s parliament will vote on Thursday on a law allowing Denmark to send asylum seekers to a third country, likely in Africa, to assess their applications.
Early readings from Bill They gained support not only from the ruling centre-left Social Democrats but also from the centre-right opposition.
But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees denounce It is a “dreadful race to the bottom” that goes against the principles of international cooperation in the field of asylum.
Demark has earned a reputation for adopting one of the toughest positions on immigration in the European Union, under the Migration Minister Matthias Tesfaye, a democratic socialist is himself the son of an Ethiopian immigrant.
It is considered the first country in Europe to declare the area around the Syrian capital, Damascus, safe for refugees to return to. The government has also taken strict internal measures, including forced evictions in immigrant neighborhoods in an effort to dismantle what it calls ghettos in many Danish cities.
Under the latest proposals, asylum seekers who arrive in Denmark will be transferred to a third country, where their applications are processed. If this succeeds, the asylum seeker will be allowed to remain in the third country, and if not, that country will deport him/her.
The current asylum system has failed. It is ineffective and unfair. Children, women and men drown in the Mediterranean or are mistreated along migration routes, while human traffickers make fortunes,” Tesfaye told the Financial Times, adding that the ‘main objective’ is to reduce the number of ‘spontaneous’ asylum seekers to Denmark.
Denmark is the latest attempt by European countries to set up refugee camps in Africa. Then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair try to in 2004 to persuade Tanzania to process asylum claims but failed.
Some left-wing lawmakers criticized the government for not specifying which third country it would use, saying they refused to give it a “carte blanche”. But attention focused on Rwanda after Tesfaye and another Danish minister traveled to the capital, Kigali, in late April, and signed a memorandum of understanding on asylum and immigration.
The agreement did not include anything about the processing of asylum applications, and Kigali made it clear that “reception of asylum seekers from Denmark” was also not part of the deal. But Amnesty International still warns that any attempt by Denmark to send asylum seekers to a third country would not only be “unreasonable, but potentially illegal”.
Rwanda has a tradition of welcoming refugees, and hosts about 130,000 of them, mostly from neighboring Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although previous plans to move African migrants from Israel to Rwanda failed in 2018, a so-called Emergency Transit Mechanism Center, or ETM, was set up the following year in Gachora.
The move came after the Rwandan government, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the African Union signed a deal to house refugees and asylum seekers who were being held in detention centers in Libya. More than 500 refugees – mostly from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia – have been sent from Libya to Rwanda.