Danish ex-minister jailed for unlawfully separating asylum-seeking couples

After a special court found her guilty of unlawfully splitting several asylum seekers couples where the female member was a minor, Denmark’s former immigration minister was sentenced to two months in prison.

Denmark’s Court of Impeachment of the Realm announced on Monday that Inger Stojberg had been found guilty of a willful breach of the Ministerial Responsibility Act and sentenced to 60 days in jail.

He was accused of violating the European Convention on Human Rights by separating asylum seekers’ families when the female partner was below the age of 18 years old.

In the unusual trial that began in September, the former minister had pleaded not guilty.

In Denmark, those who serve sentences of less than six months are eligible for electronic monitoring instead of prison time, so Stojberg is unlikely to serve any time in prison.

A total of 23 couples, most of whom had a relatively small age difference, were separated in 2016 following the minister’s orders. They were then sent to various centres for further investigation.

Due to the lack of exceptions and the immigration service’s failure to consider individual cases, her decision was deemed “unlawful.”

Since the beginning, she has maintained her innocence, claiming that nothing, in this case, was illegal.

Just one year after it was established, the commission [charged with investigating] came to the conclusion that Stojberg’s order was ‘clearly illegal.’ This court proceeding is a result of that.”

Stojberg’s exclusion from parliament is now up for grabs in the current legislative session.

From 2015 to 2019, Stojberg served as Minister for Immigration and Integration in a centre-right government supported by the right-wing populist anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF).

Over 110 amendments limiting the rights of foreigners have been passed by her.

For the purpose of financing migrant care in Denmark, she also signed legislation authorising the seizure of their assets.

For the first time since 1910, a politician has been referred to the 26-judge special court in Denmark, which has been established to try ministers for malpractice or negligence while in office.

“Tamilgate,” the illegal freezing by former Conservative Justice Minister Erik Ninn-Hansen in 1987 and 1988 of family reunification for Tamil refugees, was the last case in 1993.

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