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Friday, September 17, 2021

Danish Official Faces Impeachment Trial Over Migration Coverage Separating {Couples}

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Her contentious tenure as Denmark’s immigration minister included taking out advertisements in Lebanese media warning potential migrants to remain away, planning to deal with unwanted foreigners on a hard-to-reach Danish island, and celebrating the passage of anti-immigration policies with a cake.

Now, the Danish lawmaker Inger Stojberg is going through accusations that she ordered the unlawful separation of {couples}, a few of them with kids, who sought asylum in Denmark, in a uncommon impeachment trial in Copenhagen.

The high-profile case, which started on Thursday, is just the sixth of its type since Denmark’s Structure got here into impact in 1849, and shall be determined by a panel of judges from the Supreme Courtroom and others appointed by Parliament. If discovered responsible, Ms. Stojberg might face fines, a vote in Parliament to take away her as a lawmaker, or a jail sentence.

Showing Thursday in court docket, the place her arrival was greeted by a small group of supporters waving placards exterior, a composed Ms. Stojberg stated she anticipated to be acquitted and that she had acted to separate underage women from older husbands in pressured marriages.

“I wouldn’t have been in a position to reside with myself if I hadn’t fought for the rights of those women in these circumstances,” she instructed reporters exterior the court docket.

Authorized observers stated the impeachment of Ms. Stojberg has adopted on a political shift in Denmark that occurred in 2020 after her center-right get together, which pursued a troublesome line in opposition to migrants, misplaced parliamentary elections to the center-left Social Democrats.

On the heart of the trial is a statement Ms. Stojberg issued when she was immigration minister in 2016, following intensive protection within the Danish media about so-called “little one brides” at asylum facilities, to separate asylum-seekers in marriages the place one individual was underage, even when they’d kids. Some 23 {couples}, a lot of whom had fled to Denmark to flee wars in Syria and Iraq, had been subsequently separated by immigration officers.

“They need to be separated,” she stated on the time to the Danish Broadcasting Company, “as a result of I cannot settle for that in my system there could possibly be examples of coercion.” She has additionally argued, nevertheless, that she by no means truly issued particular orders to separate {couples}.

Based on the impeachment indictment, Ms. Stojberg violated each Danish legislation and the European Conference on Human Rights as a result of her division didn’t individually assess every case. The indictment additionally stated she gave deceptive or incorrect info throughout parliamentary consultations on 4 events in 2017 concerning the separations.

Jens Elo Rytter, a professor of constitutional legislation on the College of Copenhagen, stated it was unlikely that Ms. Stojberg must serve a jail sentence, however “finally, her political profession is at stake.”

A conviction would make it troublesome — although not not possible — to stay in politics. Nonetheless, her anti-immigration stance stays common amongst many Danes who worry an inflow of immigrants into the nation.

“If she’s not convicted, then she shall be a star,” stated Helle Vogt, professor of authorized historical past at College of Copenhagen, including that the case had not diminished her reputation amongst her supporters. Days earlier than the trial started, Ms. Stojberg launched her personal media platform, promising to present subscribers insights into the trial.

Ms. Stojberg’s assertion calling for the separation of the {couples} was criticized on the time by the Danish Institute for Human Rights, which stated that whereas the federal government ought to fight pressured marriages, “to use the identical yardstick to everyone is just not the answer.”

One of many {couples} separated — a 17-year-old pregnant girl and a 26-year-old man — filed a complaint with the Danish Parliament’s ombudsman, who dominated that the coverage was unlawful. One other girl who was separated from her accomplice in 2016 tried to kill herself and was hospitalized, in accordance with a Danish media outlet Politiken.

Nonetheless, the grievance was not adopted up by the federal government, which was then led by Ms. Stojberg’s get together.

“The best-wing authorities on the time weren’t eager to pursue something approaching investigations or impeachment,” Professor Rytter stated.

That modified after a fee established by the center-left authorities that took energy in 2020 concluded that Ms. Stojberg’s actions had been unlawful. In January, two attorneys employed by Parliament concluded that there was a “cheap expectation” that Ms. Stojberg broke the legislation, and a majority within the Danish Parliament voted to question her.

Professor Vogt stated one query the judges could be weighing was whether or not she truly ordered the separations or if immigration officers acted on their very own.

“The query for the judges: Did she order it, or did she say it in a method that was not an order?” she stated.

The trial is the newest controversy to embroil Ms. Stojberg, who presided over her authorities’s immigration coverage at a time when rising numbers of migrants from the Mideast and Africa ignited an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment in lots of European international locations.

In 2016, she was criticized for falsely claiming {that a} public day care heart in a Danish city had banned children from eating pork in deference to Muslims. In 2018, she introduced a authorities plan to deal with foreigners with legal convictions on an island, saying that they need to really feel “undesirable.”

However maybe probably the most criticized incident was a photograph that emerged of Ms. Stojberg smiling proudly in entrance a cake to mark the fiftieth restriction handed in opposition to immigration, together with one which stipulated asylum-seekers would have to hand over jewelry and gold to assist pay for his or her stays in Denmark.

She resigned as deputy chief of her Liberal Get together in December 2020 as the specter of an impeachment trial loomed.

The trial is ready to proceed by the autumn with a verdict by the tip of the 12 months, according to a court calendar.

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