Roma to be Expelled from Denmark

On June 6, 2002, the Danish Government passed Bill No. 365, which restricts foreigner's rights to enter Denmark, brings to an end the automatic right of a citizen to bring a spouse into the country and reduces social benefits to foreigners. The bill was passed one month before Denmark assumed the EU Presidency on July 1, 2002. With the passing of the new laws, Denmark now possesses amongst the toughest immigration laws in the EU.

On June 8, 2002, the Danish weekly newspaper Copenhagen Post reported that, on May 29, 2002, an agreement was signed by Mr Bertel Haarder, Denmark's Minister of Refugees, Immigrants and Integration and Mr Zoran Zivković, Serbia and Montenegro's Minister of Internal Affairs, which approved the repatriation of approximately 700 people from Serbia and Montenegro who were previously denied asylum in Denmark. On July 26, 2002, the Danish Romani organisation Romano stated to the ERRC that approximately 80 percent of the "Serbs and Montenegrins" set to be deported from Denmark to Serbia and Montenegro, including Kosovo, were Romani. On June 3, 2002, Romano reportedly held a meeting with one hundred and twenty-eight of the Romani asylum claimants to be deported at the Holeby Asylum Center near Copenhagen, during which it gathered power-of-attorney from all of the Roma present to act as their legal representative. Romano further informed the ERRC that not all of the Roma present at the meeting had received notice that their asylum applications had been denied, but attended as they viewed the May 29 agreement between Denmark and Serbia and Montenegro as primarily aimed at them. Others, such as Mr Ziva Stojković, had reportedly been served written notice of the rejection of his asylum application some twenty-two days after the decision was made to deport him. During the meeting,according to Romano, some of the Romani asylum claimantsreported that the police tried to force them to sign a voluntary agreement to return, which they reportedly did not do. On July 9, 2002, Romano filed a petition with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Mr Stojković and the other Roma present at the meeting against the Kingdom of Denmark, for having violated Article 4 of Protocol 4 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states that the "collective expulsion of aliens is prohibited" and asked the court to take interim measures. As of August 22, 2002, the Court had acknowledged receipt of the claim. As of October 23, 2002, Romano was unaware of Roma that had been deported from Denmark to Serbia and Montenegro, but all had received expulsion notices. For further information on Romani asylum issues and forced migration, see the ERRC's Internet website at: Committee’s Concluding Observations

(Copenhagen Post, ERRC, Romano)

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