Rune Engelbreth Larsen
Jens-André P. Herbener
Rune Engelbreth Larsen
Convicted of social security fraud entirely on circumstantial evidence
Aktuelt writes the 3.3 that it is no longer necessary for the local authorities to produce proof of social security fraud in order to secure a conviction in the courts of an individual charged with such an offence: "This precedence was set in a case where the local authorities of Elsinore, with the help of circumstantial evidence, reported a family to the police for receiving additional social welfare payments to which they were not entitled. The local authorities got wind of, amongst other things, that the women's ex-partner's car was parked outside her residence every evening and remained there throughout the night, even though the women reportedly lived alone and therefore received extra rent- and children's allowance".
The local authorities have thereby received the court's acceptance of its new course, where circumstantial evidence is sufficient to secure the conviction of an individual for social security fraud.
More employed in private security firms than in the police force
From 1995 to 1998 alone, the number of private security officials in Denmark rose from 8,765 to 11,990, now a larger force than that of the state police, with approximately 10,200 men and women.
The border between the private security firms and police force's area of operations is becoming more blurred and the beginnings of a regular private police force is starting to emerge.
Chief inspector Kurt Wollesen of Aarhus police stated to Aarhus Stiftstidende the 4.4: "In my opinion we have a large degree of co-operation in Aarhus. It is generally my impression that it functions perfectly. If any problems do arise, we contact each other as soon as possible." Also, police Commissioner Jens Henrik Højbjerg from the national police department A, praised the co-operation between the two "police" forces: "It is my impression that in the majority of police districts today, there is good co-operation between the police force and the serious section of the private security branch. Generally, co-operation is constantly improving."
Nevertheless, Kurt Wollesen's enthusiasm for this development is limited, when for example private security guards patrol the city's main pedestrian street, which is a public area.
The guards, like all civilians, have the right to make a citizen's arrest, but it also happens that the guards themselves transport the arrestees to police headquarters, although officially this lies far outside their area of operations.
Guard chief John Bundgaard from Falck Securitas, speaking to Stiftstidende said: "With a citizen's arrest, we always contact the duty officer at police headquarters and it happens, that they don't have enough personal to collect the individual. As a service, we deliver the person concerned to the police, even though this borders on police work."
The number of private security guards has more than doubled since 1991, when it stood at 5,465 persons.
Former shipyard workers on a mandatory "job course": Solitaire and a film about the Berlin Wall
150 unemployed shipyard workers from B&W are on a job course to improve their chances in the labour market. A film about the Berlin Wall and a visit to a museum are among the more inspirational features.
Former shipyard worker Ib Andersen, speaking the 6.3 to Aktuelt about the activation course said: "On Thursday we saw a film about the Berlin Wall that was built and later demolished. It was intended that afterwards, we should discuss the film, but there was no time for that () We can sit at a computer all day -or play solitaire. I can also just say that I'm out looking for work. We're supposed to be actively seeking employment." Furthermore, the compulsorily activated shipyard workers can be asked to account for what they would do if they won a million crowns in the Lotto
The Bravo Patrol's incitement of Bandidos to violence against the Hells Angles is investigated
The so-called Bravo Patrol within Copenhagen police force had as their duty assignment to monitor and stress amongst others, members of Hells Angles and to solve "biker related crime" until it's disbandment in 1995 because of the numerous scandals that surfaced in its wake.
The Bravo Patrol was from 1991 to 1995 located in what today is the scandal plagued Station 1, in the "Vesterbro" area of the city. Journalists Simon Andersen and Mikkel Hertz from Jyllands-Posten, who since February have investigated cases of police violence and power abuse at Station 1, wrote, amongst other things, in a summary of the activities of the Bravo Patrol: "Members of the Bravo Patrol were - after being transferred to other duties - buried in complaints: Complaints of assault, unwarranted and unjustified arrests and complaints of behaviour, far in excess of what is acceptable from a police force. The number of cases where the authorities had to pay compensation, as a result of unjustified intervention or interference by Copenhagen police have tripled in the course of a few years - also as a result of the Bravo Patrol's conduct." (7.3.).
Members of Hells Angels and Bandidos were being constantly intercepted on the street, in their homes or when they were out shopping. Speaking to Jyllands-Posten, lawyer Thorkild Høyer remarked: "These people are being stressed practically 24 hours a day for months on end." At one time, the officers also wore badges or T-shirts proclaiming "Uro-patruljen (riot police) Copenhagen" and "fuck your local Hells Angels". The officers from Bravo-Patrol refused to wear uniforms, despite the fact that the police authorities issued orders to that effect, on three occasions.
In a joint interview with Hells Angles and Bandidos in The Torch (no.7) Feb.'98, it was claimed that, officers from Bravo-Patrol incited members of Bandidos to violent action against Hells Angels in 1993, thereby actively encouraging or provoking a war between the two clubs.
Jim Tinndahn speaking to The Torch said: "In the beginning of 1993, there were two police officers who arranged a meeting with me in a lay-by; they said that they had comprehensive drawings of the HA-clubhouse in Snoldelev, complete with guard changing itinerary and everything else. 'We might just as well stick together and fight these bastards' one of them said."
Despite this extremely sensational allegation, Chief Inspector Per Larsen would not discount the story, when Politiken took it up on the 25.2.98: "He saw it as extremely unlikely, but on the other hand, neither would he dismiss the possibility of it being true."
Jim Tinndahn emphasised to The Torch (no.8), that he stood by his story and was prepared to repeat it under oath: "I stand by what I said to The Torch 100%, and I am ready to testify under oath about the two officer's incitement to a common front against the Hells Angels."
This time, Police Commissioner Hanne Bech Hansen, speaking to The Torch, dismissed the allegation: "That, which I consider in the first instance is, if there is any basis on which to forward the case to the Public Prosecutor, and in my judgement there isn't. But there is always the possibility of the Public Prosecutor being in disagreement and feeling that the case should be investigated."
With that in mind, The Torch took the case to the Public Prosecutor - who was in disagreement. In a reply from Deputy Public Prosecutor Kim Christensen at the end of May, it was stated, that "an investigation of the case had been implemented" - despite Police Commissioner Hanne Bech Hansen's previous dismissal.
Thus, while the case continued to be the subject of the Public Prosecutor's investigation, chief inspector Per Larsen made the following comment to Jyllands-Posten the 7.3, "To blame the police for the biker war is complete nonsense. But because of the tenseness of the situation at the time, I cannot exclude the possibility that the behaviour of the officers in question had its effect."
The Public Prosecutor has now questioned Jim Tinndahn from Bandidos and former member Kimmie Jønsson, who was also present when the Bravo-officers encouraged them to form a common front against the Hells Angels. In the meantime, the officers concerned have denied the charges in a written explanation.
Concerning the identity of the two officers, deputy Public Prosecutor Kim Christensen made the following statement to Aktuelt the 31.3: "It was easy to identify the officers in question and after having interviewed the two Bandidos members, I have now summoned the officers to interrogation. This will take place after Easter and both men's lawyers will be present."
The police criticise Jyllands-Posten's criticism of the police
The president of the police union in Copenhagen (Københavns Politiforening) Henrik Blandebjerg has, in unison with his colleagues in the police force, sharply criticised Jyllands-Posten's report of the violence, harassment and "police state methods" used by a hard-core of the 160 officers at Station 1 in Copenhagen (see also the previous edition of this newsletter).
An article in Jyllands-Posten the 7th.February led to an official investigation into the conditions at the station. The article drew attention to, among other things:
-That the station's three shifts were dominated by "especially heavy-handed officers, whose behaviour gave rise to a string of complaints of serious violence and abuse of power".
-"The police leadership had their suspicions that officers from the station on several occasions had camouflaged their own offences by charging citizens with assault on a public servant."
-Anonymous drug addicts and prostitutes, many of whom later came forward in the media as well as to the Public Prosecutor for Copenhagen, described in unison, a group of officers "who in their behaviour - both violent, threatening and sexually abusive - far exceeded the bounds of acceptable police conduct".
Furthermore, there has also been criticism directed against the police from within. Deputy police commissioner and former prosecutor for Copenhagen police, Ole Weikop, criticised officers for covering for each other, due to a "completely misplaced sense of loyalty"
The newspaper Information wrote the 18.3, concerning a summation made by Justice Minister Frank Jensen, of disciplinary and criminal cases against officers at Station 1, in the period 1990-1998: "During that period 13 officers were officially investigated for breeches of the penal code, seven were charged, four convicted and three acquitted. During the same period, there were 66 disciplinary cases against officers at Station 1."
However, the foreman of the police union in Copenhagen, Blandebjerg, is of the opinion that there is an ongoing smear campaign against the officers. In Jyllands-Posten the 13.3, he compares the newspaper's "seriousness" with that of "Ekstra Bladet's"(one of the tabloids). Blandebjerg also writes: " it has revealed to me, that the journalists who interviewed these people in connection with the articles, did not use much energy trying to uncover the motives many of them might of had, for making such statements against the police."
According to Blandebjerg, contacts from "the scene" in Vesterbro, informed him personally, that "journalists from Jyllands-Posten offered money to people in Vesterbro - up to DKr.1, 500 (ca.$200) - to make negative comments concerning police methods, just like they were witness to, that some were offered to be equipped with microphones, so that the journalists could 'get something on the police'".
Blandebjerg admits that the people who called him were not exactly unintoxicated: "I don't know if those who contacted me were being truthful or not, many of them were both drunk and stoned when they called."
Jyllands-Posten responded that the newspaper never paid a single source as much as one krone, but they did, however, let a witness go around one afternoon with a concealed dictaphone without getting anything on the tape. The newspaper feels it has credibility on its side: "In contrast, Jyllands-Posten's articles are based on accounts from individuals, who have told about what they claim has happened to them. Moreover, the individuals concerned did not satisfy themselves with -(drunk and stoned) - calling some old friend to unload their indignation. They have - apart from telling their story to a newspaper - given detailed witness-statements to the Public Prosecutor, the task force, and - on at least two occasions - under liability of prosecution, to Copenhagen Magistrate's Court. On the other hand, this does not guarantee that Jyllands-Posten's sources are speaking the truth. However, Jyllands-Posten tried, as far, as was possible in every case, to verify the credibility of the individuals. It should also be stated, that the easiest thing for them all to do would have been, to keep their mouths shut. Many of those that came forward, did so reluctantly - for fear of reprisals."
In the meantime, the Public Prosecutor is investigating conditions at Station 1, and about 30 witnesses have been interviewed.
Jyllands-Posten concluded the defence of their reportage, with what today is a rare show of journalistic conscience, towards "the most helpless individuals in our society": "They have no spin doctors, no union, no lobbyist and only an extremely limited possibility of airing their views in the media. The majority of them are likewise jobless, homeless and hopeless. It is now up the Public Prosecutor and the task force to investigate to what degree they are also unprotected by the rule of law."
Ethnic minorities feel they are discriminated against
Based on an investigation into the various ethnic minority communities experience of discrimination, undertaken by Denmark's Statistics Office (Danmarks Statistik) for the Tribunal For Ethnic Equality (Nævnet For Etnisk Ligestilling), Aktuelt commented, on the 18.3: "They are shouted after, attacked or spat at on the street. They are discriminated against on the busses, when they are out shopping or when they approach the authorities, and they are the butt of jokes and ridicule in their workplaces."
One of the authors of the investigation, Professor Lise Togeby from Aarhus University, made the following comment to the same newspaper: "The ethnic minorities experience that many Danes have a relatively hostile attitude to refugees and immigrants." The investigation encompassed interviews with 1,132 people from the largest ethnic groups in Denmark.
Those who feel most discriminated against are the Somalians - nearly half of those asked have experienced being pushed by Danes while on the street or in the shops. In the case of the Lebanese, it is one in every five. Approximately 50% of the Lebanese and Palestinians have experienced, not getting a job they were qualified for, because of their ethnic origins. The same is the case for one third of Somalians and Turks.
Moreover, it is the so-called best integrated who are most often exposed to discrimination, said Professor Togeby: "It is shocking that those who to a large degree, live up to the expectations we have set, are also those who feel the worst treated. It is to a large degree these people, who function well in Danish society, speak good Danish, have Danish friends and keep up-to-date with the Danish media, who experience this high level of discrimination."
Member of the Parliamentary Committee for the Granting of Citizenship (Folketingets indfødsretsudvalg) for "Venstre" Gyda Kongstad denies that Danes favour discrimination. On the contrary, it is the attitude of immigrants that is the problem, she said to Aktuelt the 19.3: "They have this attitude towards Danes that they despise us, so they can't expect that we should love them, when they despise us."
Obviously, this comment was based on a complete investigation and a careful analysis
Jurists criticise police investigation for being on police terms
Norwegian and Danish jurists are of the opinion that the Public Prosecutor's investigation into conditions at Station 1 in Copenhagen, is "completely inadequate" and "worthless". The problem is that the investigation was conducted in the same manner as a normal criminal investigation where reports of infringements were investigated individually, which in advance, made it almost impossible to collect evidence that would lead to the conviction of any of the police officers concerned.
Jørn Vestergaard, lecturer in criminal law at Copenhagen University made the following comment to Jyllands-Posten on the 14.3: "An investigation of this type could potentially lead to a couple of the more prominent 'bad apples' being removed, which in the given situation, is both desirable and necessary. However, in the larger context this is just whitewashing and will not in itself solve the underlying problem. It would be extremely naive to believe that cases brought against individual officers are the solution. On the contrary, to address the question in this manner could give the impression that the problem is no more than the excesses of a few individual officers - which considering the details available is highly unlikely."
The Norwegian Professor of Criminal Law Anders Bratholm, who for 17 years was involved in a major case of police abuse in Bergen, predicted in the same newspaper that "The cases can only end in nothing". In every case it will be claim versus counter claim. "All of the officers will deny everything and if the police are good at anything, then that is lying and closing ranks to sustain their lies."
Only an investigation conducted by investigators or a commission consisting of jurists and criminologists, would be able to focus on the fundamental problems within the police force, say jurists.
The process of interviewing the officers involved began at the end of March. None had been charged and none was obliged to make any comment to the Public Prosecutor, wrote Berlingske Tidende on the 23.3.
The queue of asylum seekers who have had their pleas rejected and cannot be deported is growing
The queue of asylum seekers who have had their cases rejected and cannot be deported from Denmark is longer than ever before. Between 1,300 and 1,500 of these individuals are in the country at the moment, according to Crown Police (Rigspolitiet).
In their hundreds, these people - typically from Afghanistan, Iraq and ex- Yugoslavia - are caught in a strange no-mans-land, because they are not persecuted enough to be granted asylum, while on the other hand, it is too dangerous to send them back. Over ten years of these people's lives could be wasted on this pointless exercise, with many of them being definitively cut off from their families as a consequence.
Writing on the subject, Berlingske Tidende said on the 21.3, that "According to the law on aliens adopted by the Parliament last summer, at least one and a half years must pass from the rejection of their application for asylum, before they are entitled to a temporary residence permit. A further five years must pass before they can be granted a permanent residence permit and finally, after an additional three years, they are entitled to apply to have their families admitted to Denmark. Together this totals nine and a half years. On top of this should be added the time spent waiting for their case to be rejected.
As well as these individuals in no-mans-land, there are hundreds of other asylum seekers who have had their cases rejected, who refuse to co-operate with the authorities in their own deportation, which can create real problems with regard to, documents from various authorities that require a signature. And finally, there are many African asylum seekers, who quite simply have no identity papers. They come from countries, where there are no social security numbers and no system of birth registration and hence, no passport system, making it difficult for these people to gain entry into other countries.
Asylum seekers from Somaliland who have had their cases rejected for example, cannot be returned to their homeland, due to Somaliland having rescinded its "hand-over" agreement with Denmark. In addition, because Somaliland is not internationally recognised as a sovereign state, these people are in reality stateless and thereby unable to obtain the necessary transit visas, as this requires a valid passport from a recognised state.
However, the authorities have a range of options available to them, to apply force, to those refugees whose reluctance impedes or prevents their deportation, explains police chief Hans Viggo Jensen form the Crown Police (Rigspolitiet): "We can forcefully present them to their embassies with warrants, we can have their fingerprints and picture taken with a view to the procurement of travel documents and then, we have these "motivating measures" which can be taken, whereby they can be required to report to their local police station, to encourage them to co-operate. Finally, we can recommend that their pocket money be withheld so they come on a bread and water arrangement. Those are the options we have available to us. They help us a certain amount." (Berlingske Tidende, 22.3).
Finally, there are people from the former Soviet Union, who have been refused asylum and have been living in Denmark long enough to entitle them to a residence permit, but they simply do not trust the Danish authorities. Berlingske Tidende wrote on the subject: " they are so mistrustful and terrified of being sent back, that they won't even put their names to a piece of paper which in principle implies their acceptance of being returned one day."
Parish Priest will convert homosexuals with prayer and therapy
Parish Priest Finn Nørgaard, of St. Luke's Church (Sct.Lukas Kirke) in Aarhus will hold meetings for homosexuals in order to convert them to heterosexuality.
He made the following comments to Aarhus Stiftstidende the 22.3: "For example, homosexuals have numerous sexual partners outside of their relationships. There is no monogamy and it is almost as if homophiles are not able to hold themselves to a single person. One should live as man and women; this is what I will help them to understand."
Crime diminishes, when those convicted are released from prison under the supervision of the Criminal Welfare Department (Kriminalforsorgen)
An investigation undertaken by Professor Britta Kyvsgaard for the Criminal Welfare Department established that far less crime is committed when prisoners are released from prison, under the supervision of the Criminal Welfare Department, as opposed to them serving their sentences as inmates.
Information writes the 24.3: "The investigation shows among other things, that three out of four prisoners under the supervision of the Criminal Welfare Department give up crime and at the same time solve a range of personal problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse."
Prime Minister dismisses National Bank's idea of attracting increased immigration
In the coming years, there will be a relatively greater number of elderly people living in Denmark and thereby a greater number of pensioners, with fewer in the work-force to finance among other things, old age pension.
Assistant director with the National Bank (Nationalbanken) Anders Møller Christensen emphasised, that it is necessary for the work force to be increased, if tax levels are to be maintained and a drastic reduction in the level of service to people outside the workplace is to be avoided. However, Møller Christensen does not share the government's vision of everybody working longer and harder; speaking to Information, the 3.3, he made the following comment: "I don't believe that the logical possibilities for increasing productivity are exhausted by working more hours in the year or working harder. The logical possibilities also include the idea of immigration. It's strange when you think, that we have the rich part of the world, where the birth-rate is too low and then we have, what by far is the greater part, where there is a shortage of work for a reasonable wage."
Prime Minister Paul Nyrup Rasmussen dismissed the idea the next day in the same newspaper: "We believe it's a bad idea to import immigrants. If the National Bank has a need for any, then that of course, is the bank's business. But we don't need any."
Special law for Kosovo refugees
Gradually, as increasing numbers of people were forced to flee Kosovo and the camps in neighbouring countries were being filled it became clear that also other countries, including Denmark, would have to accept their share of refugees. However, the government was obviously of the opinion that this could not take place under existing legislation and on the 16.4, minister of the interior Thorkild Simonsen proposed a special law for the acceptance of Kosovar Albanian refugees.
According to this special law refugees are, as a matter of course, given a temporary six-month residence permit. This permit must be renewed over a period of two years, by which time they will have the right to apply to be treated as "real" refugees. Until then, they are to remain in purpose built centres, erected to accommodate them.
This practice corresponds to what, at the time, was formulated in the special law for refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, a practice, which according to the Danish refugee organisation Danish Refugee Relief (Dansk Flygtningehjælp), is not to be recommended. In an answer to a meeting of the Parliamentary committee on justice, it was stated that: "The experience gained from working with people affected by this special law has shown, that it creates a debilitating and destructive insecurity, among people who must live with the uncertainty, of whether or not their residence permit will be renewed. Danish Refugee Relief therefore, advises against, in the strongest possible terms, the issuing of residence permits for a period of only six months, in a system where this can take place up to four times, regardless of unchanging circumstances." (Quote from Jyllands-Posten, 22.4).
As well as the criticism of this practice, facilitated by the special law, questions have been raised from various quarters as to the necessity of creating a special law in the first place, rather than use the existing legislation. Kim Kjær, who is a researcher in asylum law with the Danish Human Rights Centre (Det Danske Center for Menneskerettigheder), made the following statement: "This law is copied from the Bosnian law. However, according to the letter of the law, those Bosnians were not refugees. The Kosovar refugees are, and could easily have been admitted to Denmark under existing legislation. Therefore, this law is not a result of legislative necessity." (Jyllands-Posten, 17.4).
However, internal affairs minister Thorkild Simonsen, was of the opinion that the necessity of the special law could be defended with reference to a meeting where the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) appealed for "temporary shelter from the conflict in Kosovo". Centre party and member of the ruling coalition, the Radikale Venstre's (Radical Left's) spokesperson on refugees, Henrik Svane interpreted this appeal as follows: "If we just took them in and gave them asylum, then we would be doing the direct opposite of what the UNHCR requested us to do" (Information, 22.4).
Obviously, one hears what one wants to hear. In this case, the word "temporary" is chosen as the lynchpin in the shaping of policy towards the Kosovar refugees. Nevertheless, the UNHCR in the so-called background paper from the aforementioned meeting made clear that the Kosovar Albanians "are victims as a result of their ethnic background, religion or alleged political affiliations; i.e. they are refugees in accordance with the criteria laid down in the 1951 Convention" (Information, 22.4).
In other words, there is no objective reason for not treating them in the same way as all other refugees. That this actually is the UNHCR's perception was made crystal clear in a note to the Internal Affairs Ministry from the 20 April. In said note it is stated: "Considering the relatively manageable number of people spontaneously entering Danmark from Kosovo, the UNHCR would prefer that these people continue to be granted access to the normal asylum procedures in Denmark" (Quote from Jyllands-Posten, 22.4). Furthermore, Kosovar Albanians have already been arriving in Denmark and receiving asylum through the existing legislation for a number of years. Department chief Inge Bruhn Thomsen, from the Refugee Board (Flygtningenævnet) commented to Information the 7.4, that "up to now, the practice has been to give refugees from Kosovo refugee status according to the convention".
Nevertheless, the special law was adopted on the 23.4.
However, just ten days later, the Radikale Venstre regretted their decision and would like the law changed in the autumn when the Parliament begins a revision of asylum legislation. They now wish refugees from Kosovo to be offered the same conditions as regular refugees. Henrik Svane commented: "When we started work on the special law before Easter, we were afraid of playing Milosevic's game by telling the refugees they would be granted asylum straight away. Though one must admit, Milosevic has been successful in his tactics. The situation has now changed so much, that a change in the law seems reasonable." (Ekstra Bladet, 3.5).
The Radikale Venstre's spokesperson on justice, Elisabeth Arnold denies that the party has made a U-turn "I will to my death deny that we have made a U-turn. The case is this, that we could not offer these refugees, who were forced from their homes a few weeks ago, access to a full blown Danish integration program. They are simply not ready for it. That is why we needed a special law and it was needed so urgently, that there was no time to make provisions for all of the problems that might surface in the text."
Thorkild Simonsen finds the Radikale's position "highly curious" - and the humanitarian organisations objections to the special law, do not bother him in the slightest: "It is nothing new that the humanitarian organisations criticise the law." (Ekstra Bladet, 3.5).
Workfare is here to stay
In a feature article in Information the 19.4, labour minister Ove Hygum maintained, that "job activation is here to stay". Explaining further, he stated: "One should make demands of people. Only by making demands of people, can we show that we are not indifferent to the resourcefulness of the unemployed." According to the labour minister, activation (aka workfare) should "maintain, advance and improve" these resources.
The background for this heartbreaking concern for the unemployed is a series of articles in Information which drew attention to the forced activation of welfare recipients. The series covered among other things, an interview with a 29-year-old unemployed man, Kenneth Mejlstrup, who was precluded from receiving social welfare payments, by refusing to allow himself to be activated. After a period with a theatre group and a radio station, he was directed to assemble pill containers or pillboxes, a job he quit after one week. "I'm human and have a certain amount of dignity - it is totally ridiculous and degrading being forced to do such things. The project has no significance, other than to control one's whereabouts. It is totally devoid of any meaning - other than getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home and going to bed again." (Information, 7.4).
Ove Hygum admits in his feature article that, "there is a difference in the quality of activation offers" but reminds us that "what can seem pointless to one person, can actually have a motivating effect on somebody else." This does not explain, however, why those who find a task soul-destroying are forced to do it anyway.
Whether a job is "motivating" for those activated or not, it is in any event a good earner for the employer. According to Information, the 8.4, the company Coloplast pays activated social welfare recipients 10.47 Kr. (ca. $1.40) an hour for putting plasters into boxes. There is no sick pay and no unemployment insurance - conditions which Ove Hygum, a social democrat, quietly ignores in his article.
The job activation at Coloplast is an element of an EU supported project which claims to "increase the qualifications of the participants". That the activated themselves see things rather differently could be ascertained by anybody purchasing Compeed-plasters throughout the month of April. As well as plasters, the packets contained a notice which read, "This product is packed by Danish slave labourers in April 1999. Help us. Please don't buy this product anymore. We can't go on holiday. Our salary is fixed (very low) and we can't quit. This product should be made by people in ordinary jobs and they should have normal wages. Please express your discontent to Compeed! We don't want to live in a world with slave labourers." (Information, 29.4).
The action's organiser Erling Frederiksen, secretary in the Nationwide Organisation of Unemployed (Landsorganisation af Arbejdsledige) made the following comment to the same newspaper: "We would like to draw attention to this form of production with forced labour, which we feel has no place in modern Denmark. It is completely reprehensible, that an otherwise well run company should use this form of labour at so low a wage."
In the 1999 budget, DKr.7.3 billion (ca.$1 billion.) was allocated to job activation programs, of which approximately 80% went to "compulsory activation" which begins after 21 months unemployment. The average number of people activated in October 1998, was approximately 63,000, which is 6,000 more than for the same period the previous year (Source: Jyllands-Posten, 17.3).
A.P. Møller supports Dansk Folkeparti (Danish Peoples Party)
From 1996, political parties in Denmark were obliged to publicise all donations from private sources, in excess of DKr.20,000 (ca.$2,800). From the Danish Peoples Party's accounts for 1998, one can discover that the shipping company A.P. Møller, made a financial contribution to the party - the size of which was not stated, only that it exceeded DKr 20,000.
This is not the only situation in which A.P.Møller has supported the extreme right; in connection with the parliamentary elections of 1998, the Progressive Party (Fremskridtspartiet) received DKr.100,000 and has also received contributions on other occasions, to help fight elections. "We have had a warm and sincere relationship with A.P.Møller in the 25 years of the party's existence," commented Kim Behnke, of the party leadership (Berlingske Tidende, 9.4).
In a representative democracy like Denmark's, it is obvious, that some voters can exert a greater influence than others, by donating large amounts of money to certain political parties. Concerning their motives for supporting the Danish Peoples Party, A.P.Møller spokesperson Jette Clausen, made the following comment to Berlingske Tidende, the 8.4: "It's natural, that we should support political parties, who share the same views on business politics as we do"
And the shipping company has more than enough, when it comes to supporting its political allies. A.P.Møller's profits for 1998 were again in the billions.
School refuses Muslim girl tuition because she will not bathe with her classmates
"Bakkeskolen" in Esbjerg has refused a Muslim girl tuition for six weeks, writes Information, the 4.5. The reason being, that her father will not permit her to take a bath together with her classmates, after swimming or sport.
The supervisory board in Ribe District (Ribe Statsamt) overturned the schools expulsion of the girl, but the town council has appealed the decision to the Internal Affairs Ministry.
The school supports its decision by citing that the girl does not have a right to tuition, if she does not respect the school regulations.
Ill-defined PET (Police Intelligence Service) investigation
The government has moved into place the forthcoming PET investigation, after negotiations with left wing parties and the Christian Peoples Party (Kristeligt Folkeparti). According to a comment in the proposal to the legislator, the Police Intelligence Service (PET) are to decide themselves what material is relevant to the investigation and the Defence Forces Intelligence Service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste) are to be totally excluded.
Furthermore, the government insisted under the negotiations, that the investigation was not to extend any further than to the end of November 1989. Thereby averting any PET cases that might have taken place under the present government, which came to power in 1993.
The Unity List's (Enhedslisten's) spokesperson on justice Søren Søndergaard, has distanced himself from the process, due to a number of important PET-cases from the 1990's, that as a consequence will now not be investigated: "There is the possible destruction of the Popular Movement against Nazism (Folkebevægelsen mod Nazisme). There is the bomb attack in Søllerødgade where Henrik Christensen was murdered and of which, PET possibly had advance warning. We have the alleged bugging of the Kurdish Society and the legally held meeting in Aarhus where two leading Social Democrats were recorded on tape. We have the Rushdie-case and we have the RI-Bus conflict (labour dispute). All of which are very serious issues, which the government does not wish to be investigated." (Ekstra Bladet, 11.5).
Nevertheless, the process was supported by the Unity List (Enhedslisten), the Socialist Peoples Party (Socialistisks Folkeparti) and the Christian Peoples Party (Kristeligt Folkeparti), as otherwise the government would have ceased trying to seek a majority and completely have scraped the investigation. Søren Søndergaard commented: "We have not agreed on any compromise, but we will not hinder an investigation by voting no." (Ekstra Bladet, 12.5).
Foreman for the Socialists Peoples Party, Holger K. Nielsen, speaking to the same newspaper said, that nevertheless, it would be possible to extend the investigation to cover the period after 1989: "At the same time the commission can, on it's own initiative, bring cases that extend further than to 1989, if they find anything interesting." Hence, the composition of the investigating commission is of crucial significance, only especially critically minded members of the commission will chose to extend the scope of the investigation, which explicitly ends at November 1989.
The commission shall, besides having a judge as foreman, consist of two historians and two jurists, of which the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus shall appoint the last four. The question then being, if in principle anyone can be appointed?
On the 11th May Elisabeth Arnold, justice spokesperson for the Radical Left (Radikale Venstre), speaking on DR2's TV program, "Before Deadline" (Før Deadline) said, that the only qualifications required from the commission members was, that the historians should have a special insight into the period after 1945.
However, one week later while in the process of U-turning, she stated: "I have now reread the comments concerning the law proposal. It is true that demands still remain as to the qualifications of the commission members." (Information, 18.5). Defending herself, she said that the comments to the law proposal completely exclude "persons, who in the public debate, have previously expressed their interpretation of the issues to be evaluated and investigated by the commission". The government has thereby, ensured that those individuals with the greatest knowledge of the case, among others, Preben Wilhjelm Ph.D. law, from Roskilde University Centre, are definitively excluded beforehand from being appointed by the universities, considering that every expert on the subject, at some point and as a matter of course, will have commented here on.
Speaking to The Torch, Preben Wilhjelm made the following comment: "It is still unclear, what form the investigation will take."
Inadequate information from the police, about the right to legal assistance.
According to an investigation conducted by Berlingske Tidende among 125 of Denmark's 500 court appointed lawyers, 56% said, that "they personally have experienced that their clients were inadequately informed about their rights to legal assistance" (Berlingske Tidende, 18.5).
Foreman for the court appointed lawyers, Thomas Rørdam, is of the opinion, that the circular which outlines what the police should say to an arrestee, should be changed and speaking to the same newspaper said: "I fear, that the passage on financial liability is over emphasised and therefore should be removed from the circular."
The police have a duty to inform those arrested, that they will be held liable for their legal expenses, if they loose their case. Foreman for the Council of Lawyer's Criminal Law committee (Advokatrådets Strafferetsudvalg), Steen Bech claims, that the police overstate the passage's significance: "This passage is misused in the sense, that it is presented as meaning, that legal expenses have to be paid, no matter what." In reality, there are very few cases where a debt is incurred.
Lawyer Jørgen Jacobsen agrees: "It's my perception, that the police generally avail of this passage, to occlude the presence of a lawyer. This is my experience. I have numerous examples."
Youth House in Copenhagen to be closed
Popular alternative "stamping grounds" are beginning to disappear in Copenhagen. There are plans afoot to replace, "People's Park" (Folkets Park) and "Organic Organiser's" (Økologiske Igangsætteres) "Garden in One Night" (Have På En Nat) in the Nørrebro area of the city, with apartments, and more recently on the 6th May, the Residents Association decided, that the Youth House in Nørrebro was to close.
The argument being among other things, that it would cost the city roughly DKr.11 million, (ca.$1,5 million) to renovate the building. That is the estimate of the cost, of bringing the Youth House up to standard with the other activities under KUC (Copenhagen's Youth Centre). At the same time, the sale of the property could bring the city a tidy windfall, according to the conservative Councillor for Culture and Leisure, Hans Thustrup Hansen: "We can get a dream price for that property and I wont hide the fact that economics play a part in this. If we printed the money ourselves, then it wouldn't matter that only 20 to 30 young people get to use the house. But that is bad use of a such a well placed property." (Information, 6.5).
Contrary to previous occasions, this time the Social Democrats (Socialdemokratiet) also voted for closure of the Youth House. The Social Democratic member of the Culture and Leisure Committee, Finn Rudaizky commented: "There is a slight difference this time, where we have said, that the activities in the Youth House should not be abolished. We will work on finding practice localities in another part of the city and a hangout. However, we need money for numerous other youth and cultural projects, so the users of the Youth House will receive an obvious special status, if the property is renovated at a price of DKr.10, million. In my opinion, the city is not obliged to supply a three story house to the disposal of a subculture of 20 to 30 youths who use the building daily." (Information, 6.5).
However, the KUC (Copenhagen's Youth Centre) estimate in their case data, that there are 75 to 100 daily users and up to 700 at musical events at the weekends. Moreover, Rune Larsen from the Youth House's secretariat, in the same newspaper dismisses, that it will cost 10-11 million crowns (ca.$1.5 mill.) to renovate the building and refers to, that the KUC in various estimations of the cost of renovation, have reached a approximate figure of ca. 1.8 mill. crowns (ca.$250, 000), plus 50-70, 000 crowns (ca.$10, 000) for damage caused by fungus. In addition, he states, that the city's yearly expenses for the house are at DKr.103, 000 (ca.$15, 000) of which DKr.40, 000 is repaid as property tax - money that the Youth House has offered to pay themselves on numerous occasions.
During the month of May, there were repeated demonstrations by over 500 people, against the closure. A number of actions and happenings likewise attempted to draw the public's attention, to the campaign to preserve the Youth House.
For example, a group of young people protested, by climbing to the roof of the Bus Terminal, in Town Hall Square, Copenhagen with banners, the same day as the Residents Association voted for the haven's closure.
Sune Kløster among others, was charged with disturbing the peace and was forced to spend six hours in a cell at Station 1, not for taking part in the demonstration, but for doing something that apparently is equally forbidden: "I threw my jacket up to the freezing demonstrators on the roof." (Information, 20.5).
In a commentary in Information he writes: "as soon as I threw my jacket up to the freezing demonstrators, they were there. A forceful grip of my arms, "strips" on (unpleasant disposable handcuffs) and into the car. I tried to talk to the female officer as a human being who, despite my expectations began to insult me and even refused to give me her name, which as far as I know, they are obliged to () I arrived at station 1 and had to remove my boots and jewellery, ring and bracelet. Yeah, even my entry bracelet to the Roskilde Festival was cut off, when I told them that I couldn't remove it and in any event, couldn't see how I could, hang myself with it. I was issued with a piece of paper, telling me my rights, among which was, that I had a right to see my own doctor, regardless of their opinion and I could feel my sickness running amok in the cold cell. I said this through the intercom (after waiting five minutes for a response) and they laughed and closed the connection. When I was being released, I saw the shoes and boots of many people I knew and whom I knew did not take part in the demonstration on the roof. It later became clear, that they had been arrested for the same offence as I had. One, for throwing up a litre of juice, another a pack of cigarettes, one was just standing throwing a packet of peas into the air, he could hardly walk afterwards, because of his bad back. How can it be illegal to show solidarity? How can it be illegal, to throw ones jacket up to a group of freezing people, when you only live five minutes away yourself? How can it be illegal to give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty?"
Sundholm's medical department to close
Sundholm on Amager, south of Copenhagen, which is a haven for homeless people, is being forced to close its medical department, after cuts and a restructuring plan by the city council.
Office leader Jørgen Rybrik presented the plan to Sundholm's residents and personal, at a meeting on the 17 May, where 100 people walked out in protest.
Four hundred people yearly, use the facility as a accident and emergency department and in reality have no other alternative, says Hanne, vice foreman for the users committee at Sundholm, who herself is homeless: "There is really no alternative to department Q. Many of the homeless have no identity papers. Few of them are aware, if they have a doctor. Sundholm is their only connection to society." (Ekstra Bladet, 18.5).
Twenty-two beds are to be dismantled at Sundholm, which will be replaced by eight new beds at other hostels. Office leader Rybrik, does not see this as a problem: "Doctors or nurses will provide medical supervision, for those hostels which have sick rooms," he commented and added: "It has not been decided yet, whether personal will be employed, specifically for these functions."
Supreme Court rejects Aliens Law, which demands the deportation of foreigners convicted of misdemeanour drug offences.
On the 19th May, nine Supreme Court judges with court president Niels Pontoppidan at the helm, were in unanimous agreement, that the deportation of two foreigners, sentenced after the so-called "pusher law", which was adopted by Parliament in December 1996, was in breech of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The "pusher law" makes it easier to deport foreigners convicted of dealing drugs, even in extremely small amounts. The courts should, only in exceptional cases, refrain from using this option, it is stated in the preface to the law.
The two accused, who were sentenced to deportation by the High Court were, a Pakistani man, who was convicted of dealing 5gr.of heroin and 5gr.of cocaine and a Croatian woman, convicted of dealing 6gr.of heroin. They both have families in Denmark and have been living in the country, for 25 years and 10 years respectively.
Lecturer of criminal law at Copenhagen's University, Jørn Vestergaard, commented on the Supreme Court's dismissal of the deportations: "The Supreme Court has laid down the guidelines. The court has determined that there must be a connection between the character of the offence, the individual's attachment to Denmark and the deportation. Deportation is only applicable, for serious or repeated drug offences." (Politiken, 20.5).
The European Convention on Human Rights, guarantees residents against deportation, if the sanction does not correspond reasonably to the offence committed.
However, the Conservative's spokesperson on legal matters, Bendt Bendtsen, expressed his extreme dissatisfaction with the decision: "The Supreme Court's decision is deeply unsatisfactory and completely out of touch with the wishes of the population. The decision overrules the Parliament, which tackled the problem with open eyes. We have said, that we will not house foreigners, who deal in death and destruction." (Berlingske Tidende, 20.5).
Even so, this fundamental decision by the Supreme Court is an expression of, that the Parliament went too far, when the law on aliens was tightened in 1996, with the introduction of the so-called "pusher law". The Supreme Court judges stated, that the politician's intention, to drop the demand for deportation only in exceptional circumstances "has no meaning in itself".
This is the fifth time that the Supreme Court has decided on a case, concerning foreigners convicted of drug offences and it is the fifth time that a unanimous Supreme Court has said no, to the prosecution's and the immigration department's (Udlændingesstyrelsens) demand for deportation from Denmark.
Danish business executives average wage increase for one year: DKr.230.000 (ca.$32,000)
While business leaders firmly reject any expectations workers might have of a wage increase, their salaries on the other hand, have increased dramatically.
The newspaper Politiken, has sifted through the two latest sets of figures, for the 10 largest financial companies and the 50 largest stock market registered industrial concerns and both company profits as well as executive salaries, have risen far more than normal wage increases in the labour market.
"A golden wage packet, with its bulk increased by 12 percent from the previous year, is what the average director and board member could enrich themselves with. In comparison, four percent is the average wage increase for Danes generally." (Politiken, 19.5).
For example, company director Ole Balle, has shared a wage increase of 1.7 mill. crowns (ca.$240,000), with three other board members in Sophus Berendsen, so together, they now have a yearly income of, 10 mill. crowns (ca.$1.4 mill.). The average wage for business executives in the companies, whose figures were looked into, has risen by DKr.230,000 (ca.$32,000), from 1997 to 1998.
Ole Balle does not see anything odious, in rewarding his leadership, with such striking increases in salary: "I don't see it as a problem. It is a result of general wage increases and a bonus system for good results. This concept has also rooted itself longer down in our concern, so I don't see it as being a problem for me, to look the employees in the eye."
Politiken informs that company profits for 57 of the 60 largest Danish concerns, has risen from 5,979 mill. crowns (ca, $840 mill.) in 1997, to 7,149 mill. crowns (ca.$100 mill.) in 1998, i.e. an increase of 19.5%.
Continued shelving of investigation into Social Democratic Party's (Socialdemokratiet) intelligence service
On the 29th Oct. 1998, Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, wrote in a letter to the Labour Movement's Archive and Library (Arbejderbevægelsens Bibliotek og Arkiv). "We [have] decided, that the "AIC-archive" will be made available to a group of independent researchers appointed by the State's Humanistic Research Council ( Statens Humanistiske Forskningsråd) and the State's Sociological Research Council (Statens Samfundsvidenskabelige Forskningsråd), who will get the opportunity to examine the material as a contribution to the writing of Cold War history."
AIC, the Labour Movement's Information Central (Arbejderbevægelsens Informations Central), was the Social Democratic Party's (Socialdemokratiets) anticommunist intelligence service, which operated from the Second World War until 1972, when communists were registered, to ensure that they did not gain too great an influence in the labour movement.
Despite the Prime Minister's promise in the above-mentioned letter, of opening the AIC-archives, he overlooks the fact that they already have been available to historians, journalists and students for many years. And as if that wasn't enough; Henning Grelle, leader of the Labour Movement's Archive and Library, interpreted, the Prime Minister's letter as follows; that the AIC-archive should be closed - and closed it was. (See also; "TOTALITARIAN AND FASCIST TENDENCIES IN DENMARK" no.10, p.10, and The Torch no.11, p.6).
Since December 1989, Henning Grelle has refused to comment on the closure to Information, which has returned to the case on a regular basis. The problem surrounding the closure of the archive has for several months been over-shadowed by the attempt to finance an eventual investigation of said archive, though on the 28.4, Minister for Research (Forskningsminister) Jan Trøjborg declared to the newspaper: "the money will be found".
However, there was still no movement in the case and it is now apparent that what Trøjborg actually meant, was - as reproduced in Information's editorial the 20.5, - that "if one of the research councils, before the next deadline for applications on the 1st October 1999, comes with a qualified request from researchers, who wish to immerse themselves in the AIC-archive and if the research council in question, chooses not to accord money to this qualified project, only then will Jan Trøjborg spread his economic safety net".
At that time, the AIC-archive had been closed for almost a year, since the Prime Minister declared, that it should be opened.
Information concludes in its editorial, that: "The course of events seems to show, that it is of the highest political priority for the government, to prevent the AIC-archive from making any contribution to the written history of the Cold War. There must be many ugly secrets hidden in that archive."
Christoffer Gertz Bech and Rune Engelbreth Larsen
Translated by Anthony Kiely