Rune Engelbreth Larsen
Jens-André P. Herbener
Rune Engelbreth Larsen
The Commissioner of Police
refuses a demand from the professional paper of the Danish nurses for
more severe rules in order to avoid the misuse of police dogs
In Sygeplejersken, the professional paper of the Danish nurses, a demand is raised for limiting the use of police dogs in various conflicts.
According to Politiken 9-6/96, Police Commissioner Ivar Boye refuses any demand along these lines even though he does acknowledge that the dogs can be difficult to control.
The problem is raised in an article in Sygeplejersken no. 36: »In this issue, Sygeplejersken describes four serious bite injuries originating from four different episodes where the police have used dogs against a crowd. Of these cases, one victim suffered an injury to his penis and urethra, one had to be sewn with 20-30 stitches, one needed a skin transplant, and one needed to be put twice in full anaesthesia«.
In a subsequent article in no. 37 it is stated that: »The dog's teeth are a terrifying weapon. Between the dog's largest molars there may be a pressure of about six metric tons. As a forcible means the dog is considered stronger that tear gas but milder than the truncheon. The police themselves judge when to use the various forcible means.«
On numerous occasions, police dogs have been used before tear gas, even though this is a violation of the rule that states that the mildest weapon be used first.
According to Sygeplejersken, about 300 persons are bitten by police dogs each year in normal arrests alone. Thus, this does not include people bitten by dogs in connection with clearing the roads for crowds. In 1995, according to information given by the police dogs were used 46 times against crowds - apart from that, dogs were used 125 times during the »Ribus« conflict in Esbjerg. A hearing revealed that 380 persons had been bitten during this conflict alone. (Berlingske Tidende, 10/14-96).
A few months later, the president of the Danish Police Union, Tommy Agerskov Thomsen, comments on the documentation put forward by Sygeplejersken and believes that a 30-page article about injuries as a consequence of being bitten by police dogs is overkill. It would be better for the journal to write about injuries caused by bad playgrounds. »Such topics don't appear to have high priority in this professional paper. They appear to prefer 'troublemakers' that happen to have been bit!« (Politiken, 11/25-96).
The editor Peter Skeel Hjorth has a different view of the consequences of using police dogs and states to the same newspaper: »The international principles for medical ethics say that nurses must react when they witness violations of human rights. Therefore it is also relevant for us as a professional paper. And it is an outrage when a young man had to be treated in a hospital for four weeks after being bitten by police dogs when there was never any foundation for pressing charges against him.«
At least 1.000 people are bitten by police dogs each year.
Editorial in Jyllands-Posten: Reformatory camps for criminal immigrants
Under the headline »City of Hoodlums«, the editorial in Jyllands-Posten uses a couple of violent incidents in Aarhus as a stepping stone for criticizing the politicians for their reluctance to realize the idea of sending criminal young immigrants to »reformatory camps« in Egypt: »As long as this moral laziness is upheld by the Danish Parliament, so long must the public put up with violence and bestial killings. The fear will increase with the violence. We will truly get a society suffering from the consequences of moral laxity.« (9/4-96).
The day after, the same newspaper is obliged to acknowledge - not on the editorial page, of course - that the hysteria concerning violence is an overreaction: »The myth that unprovoked violence has exploded, especially against senior citizens, has no foundation in reality according to an investigation of the victims of violence in Denmark.« (9/5-96).
Less than 2% of the Danes have ever been exposed to violence and most of these have only suffered anything between harassment and a couple of bruises. Far less than 1% have been exposed to violence with lasting consequences.
Among these, the violence in weekends, where the cities are traditionally full of people makes up 42% - in half of these cases, alcohol is involved. 17% of all violence takes place on work, and the domestic violence accounts for approximately the same percentage.
The arbitrary violence and »bestial killings« that, according to the editorial in Jyllands-Posten, justify regular »reformation camps« (only for immigrants, of course) are the token of a dangerous overreaction. Chief of Secretariat Karsten Ive of the Council for the Prevention of Crime says to Jyllands-Posten about the media's treatment of violence: »Sometimes, we feel that we have to tidy up the mess left by the press. I do understand that crime makes good copy but the editors have to realize that they help create a fear that is actually unfounded.«
The editorial's statement »the fear will increase with the violence« does thus actually mean »the fear will increase with the media hysteria«. The editors of Jyllands-Posten who war against a »society suffering from the consequences of moral laxity« are thus not merely the advocates of »hardness« and internment camps - they, additionally, carry a large part of the responsibility for the very fear that is terrorizing a large part of the public for no reason at all!
The editorial in JP-Østjylland 12/1-96 testifies, however, that the newspaper does not see any reason for changing its course; here, isolated incidents of violence where immigrants have been involved are used to criminalize a whole section of the population: »The young refugees from the Middle East have to be surveyed maximally. They have to be stopped and searched at every opportunity on the suspicion of illegal arms possession.«
Who is more »bestial« here, the thug or the editorialist?
Report from the national police accuses immigrants for organized crime - without documentation
The national police conclude in a Danish contribution to a European report on organized crime that bikers and immigrants in Denmark are increasingly involved in organized crime, but they do not produce any documentation of this statement.
Both criminologists and the Copenhagen Police are astonished since there is not the least evidence of either allegation after years of massive police investigation. Thus, Chief Inspector Per Larsen of the Copenhagen Police rejects the conclusions of the national police in a statement to Jyllands-Posten: »It is correct that there have been violent incidents in both groups. But we have no material to prove that these two groups commit organized crime.« (9/12-96).
Chief constable Jens Henrik Højbjerg from the national police admits that the allegations are undocumented: »The EU report is not intended for operative use. We have attempted to make a thumbnail sketch and describe some fields, where the warning signals should flash.«
This undocumented thumbnail sketch thus explicitly throws suspicion on, among others, Pakistani, Iranians, Curds from Turkey, Iraqi, Lebanese, Gambians, Colombians and refugees from the former Yugoslavia...
The Prime Minister: The constitutional case is no obstacle to direct Danish acceptance of a new treaty
Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen rebukes his Minister of Foreign affairs, Niels Helveg Petersen, who does not believe that Denmark can sign a new treaty for the European Union before the Supreme Court has passed sentence on the case concerning possible conflict of the Maastricht treaty with the Danish constitution.
According to Berlingske Tidende, the Prime Minister believes that an official political course has been taken - if the partner in government of the Social Democrats, Det Radikale Venstre, thinks otherwise is without consequence: »... under no circumstances may there be any uncertainty concerning Denmark's direct way to a new treaty.« (9/16-96).
It is then an open question whether Nyrup Rasmussen with this statement shows his respect for the independent courts who are actually working with a lawsuit that is to determine whether Denmark has violated its constitution, and whether the ratification of Maastricht should consequently be withdrawn - or is the Prime Minister simply above common justice?
Helge Adam Møller, spokesman for legal affairs of the Conservatives: let the police use any means in the biker war
Helge Adam Møller, the spokesman for legal affairs of the Conservatives, believes that there should be no limits to the means the police may use against those who are presumably involved in the biker war: »We ought to leave it entirely to the police to decide what means are necessary in order to stop this.« (Berlingske Tidende, 9/16-96).
Thus, the Conservatives have explicitly admitted that if they had their way, the police state would already have been realized.
Erling Olsen, chairman of the Parliament: Remove the limitations of Danish cession of power to the European Union
Erling Olsen, chairman of the Parliament and former Minister of Justice, suggests that article 20 of the Danish Constitution be changed so that there will no longer be any limitations of Denmark's cession of sovereignty to international organizations like the EU (Politiken, 9/22-96).
According to the constitution's article 20, the cession of power to »international authorities« like the EU that are not »of a definite extent« requires either that five out of six of the members of Parliament vote in favour, or it must be approved by a referendum.
Before the referendum concerning membership of the EEC in 1972, the Ministry of Justice had stated that the EEC was a purely economical community and that the Parliament thus did not violate the constitution, since the cession of sovereignty 25 years ago was consequently »of a definite extent.«
But according to article 235, the »international authorities« of the European Union can extend the co-operation beyond a definitely agreed extent. In his examination of the violations of the constitution committed by the authorities, Mikael Witte writes: »Since 1973, article 235 has been used more that 600 times. (...) Authority can be delegated to international authorities.
These authorities have to respect some fundamental principles of international law. But the co-operation in the EU is undemocratic. Only the Commission - which is not elected - has the right to suggest laws that may be agreed upon in the Council of Ministers, which is not elected as a body. Its members cannot be held responsible. Its decisions are published, but are interpreted in many ways. This is against the principle that laws must be equal to all, and that they must be publicly accessible. When Denmark ratified the treaty of the EU, the government delegated an undefined amount of authority to an undemocratic institution and thus violated the Constitution (Grundloven, 1997, s. 46).
Erling Olsen's wish of relaxing article 20 is a clear symptom that leading members of the Social Democratic Party actually agree that this article (and with it the Constitution) is violated by the Denmark's membership of the EU.
The Minister of the Interior: Foreigners convicted for drugs should be deported
According to a Bill hastily delivered by Birthe Weiss, Minister of the Interior, a judge shall be able to deport a foreigner who is guilty of drug-related crime. (Berlingske Tidende, 10.10.96).
Only »drug-related crime« is a very broad definition; a foreigner who is taken by the police with a couple of grams of hash may subsequently be convicted of »drug-related crime« should he later be found guilty of stealing a bicycle - after all, the »drugs« have to be financed in some way ...
Law of Prohibition of Residence on Certain Premises
October 15 the Parliament passes the so-called biker law, »Law of Prohibition of Residence on Certain Premises«.
Consequently, the police can prohibit a person from entering certain premises, if the police believes that there is a »risk of attacks that will endanger persons who live or happen to be near the premises«, and if said attack may be presumed to be a part of a »mutual showdown between groups of people, where violence is used on both sides.«
In this case, the executive power is also the judicial power, and the people who the police forbid entrance on certain premises are deprived of any possibility of having the ruling tried in court.
Police Commissioner Ivar Boye is still not worried about people's rights, »for the police will manage these restraint orders sensibly«, as Berlingske Tidende writes (10/3-96).
Meanwhile, people who are legally innocent can be thrown out of their houses, apartments, restaurants, cinemas, and so on - with no warrant or court order. It is up to the police to estimate who the prohibition includes, so that the police alone defines who is a »biker«, who may be considered »biker-related«, and who knows the »biker circles« sufficiently well to be included by the special law - according to Jyllands-Posten, 4.600 individuals were registered as co-operating with biker groups in 1991 alone (11/17-91).
The Minister of Justice Bjørn Westh rejects the idea of a legal guarantee for the involved clubs with the argument that this would be »very difficult to administer« (Information, 10/10-96). Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Lars Adam Rehof, comments: »I think that this is a very poor argument in a constitutional state. Because there may come a lot of trials we will not guarantee their rights. It is a very poor argument indeed.«
The Minister of Justice further emphasizes that the intention of the ad-hoc Act is not at all to stop the biker war, but just to remove the danger for their neighbours. A »danger« that any sober consideration would reveal as minimal and that is neither smaller nor greater now. The incidents merely occur in other places.
Obviously, the ad-hoc Act has not worked according to its intentions - on the other hand, it has unambiguously undermined the legal rights as defined by the constitution.
Three months later, the spokesman for legal affairs of Venstre, Birthe Rønn Hornbech, writes in a feature article that the Parliament is disregarding the Constitution: »this parliament uses an ad-hoc Act not only to become the executive power but also makes itself a court of law, and even passes a verdict of guilty without examining whether the evidence is valid or not.« (Information, 1/25-97).
Criticism along these lines had been anticipated by the Prime Minister, however, who reassuringly stated the following to Information 11 days before the law was passed: »Let us not get mixed up in all sorts of legal subtleties and trifles ...«
The police is increasingly alerted to a phenomenon which the press has baptized »the street violence.« In that connection, Politiken prints a picture where two doormen refuse to admit two brown-skinned boys to a disco, while three white girls enter without problems. The caption says: »An ordinary Friday night in front of a disco in Copenhagen. Doormen in bullet-proof vests sort the guests thoroughly.« (10/20-96).
In the same newspaper, associate professor Lars Adam Rehof of the University of Copenhagen holds the press responsible for the increasing fear of violence. Single cases can make the politicians want to jeopardize fundamental rights after only one day. Denmark should not have had a biker law at all, but a police law: »The activities of the Danish police unfold themselves in what is largely a legal vacuum where the police have incredibly wide limits for estimating what they can do. It is an important problem. It is a slippery slope.«
The Minister of Justice gives incorrect information to the Parliament about the castration of criminals
Minister of Justice Bjørn Westh informs the Parliament that the drugs used for medical castration are »tested and approved for this purpose.«
According to Press, 11/1-96, this is simply not true. The drug that is used is called decapeptyl and the chief of the department for medical assessment of pharmaceutical drugs under the Danish Board of Health states: »It is important to stress that decapeptyl has never been approved for medical castration and that nobody knows the long term effects of this drug. (...) The drug cannot be approved, since the companies marketing this kind of drugs, Ferring for instance, have never solicited any kind of approval.«
The incorrect information given by the Minister of Justice was not criticized. He was not fired - he was not even reprimanded.
The Minister of Labour: The Employment Exchange (Arbejdsformidlingen) can give up an unemployed with the wrong colour
Minister of Labour Jytte Andersen states to Politiken that the employees of the Job exchange also have to assess whether the unemployed »actually have a chance of getting the job, before he or she is sent to an interview. This may mean that the Job Exchange discards an unemployed because of the colour of his skin or a foreign-sounding name.« (11/12-96).
Two days later, the minister withdraws and claims to Information, that the quotation was out of context - we would like to know which context that may have been? Poul Dengsøe, the journalist of Politiken, maintains that the minister made the statement reported by him.
The Police Intelligence Service (PET) hides evidence in a homicide case against Hell's Angels
In violation of the Administration of Justice Act, PET has hidden important evidence for the prosecution as well as for the defence, the court, and the police colleagues from the Copenhagen police in a homicide case against six members of Hell's Angels who stand accused of the killing of Uffe Larsen, member of Bandidos, in Kastrup Airport.
Lawyer Torben Bagge who represents one of the defendants hinted that the relevant information might have been withheld because they would benefit the defence.
The prosecutor, vice public prosecutor Bitte Dyrberg excused herself stating that she »did not decide« whether the police delivered all the relevant material. The presiding judge did not find this explanation satisfactory, however: »In my twenty years being a judge I have never heard a similar remark. In this case, there are only three parties: the prosecution, the defendant, and the court. It is not the business of PET or the police chief in Holstebro what is going on in here, and thus it will not do that the prosecutor attempts to put the blame on PET.« (Jyllands-Posten, 11/14-96).
Professor Erik Werlauff from the University of Aalborg emphasizes the earnest of withholding evidence: »The European Human Rights Court has made it clear in ruling after ruling that this is one of the most fundamental principles in the administration of justice.«
The UN criticizes Denmark's relations to human rights
Denmark's reputation in the UN is somewhat tarnished when it comes to delivering reports about the human rights situation in the country.
At the Human Rights Summit in Vienna in 1993, Denmark insisted on the very first page of its program that human rights could not be regarded a country's »internal affairs.« At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the sixth reminder from the Secretary General of the UN for a report concerning Denmark's observance of the human rights, a report that should have been handed in November 1990. Denmark has committed itself to the obligation of making such reports by ratifying the UN convention on civil and political rights from 1972.
The ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered the report with a delay of five years, in 1995. Half a year later came the deadline for delivering the next report from Denmark - which, however, has not yet been handed in.
The human rights commissioner for the Baltic Sea Region, Ole Espersen, takes the delay very seriously: »... you can say that being late with the report is only a matter of form, if the contents are then all right. But when there's also a criticism of Denmark on some essential points, then it's not so good ...« (Politiken, 11/17-96).
In a recent evaluation of Denmark's relations to the UN convention on civil and political rights Denmark is severely criticized by the Human Rights Committee, among other things, for an incomprehensible use of police dogs against crowds, the use of custody and solitary confinement of indefinite duration, the practise of letting minors be imprisoned with adults, and the slowness of the action for damages concerning Thule, which has been delayed for 43 years ...
Associate professor in Human Rights at the University of Copenhagen Lars Adam Rehof characterizes the criticism as surprisingly unequivocal and states to Politiken: »This was a clear condemnation.«
Police and courts circumvent the prohibition of secret searches
The police may not search a house without subsequently informing the individual whose property has been searched. The courts, however, have helped the police circumventing the law by an unusual interpretation of the rules.
The courts, for instance, have refused secret searches of ship's containers but subsequently allowed the police to perform them simply by referring to the containers as letters - since the police is allowed to open and read letters without informing about it afterwards.
In an new Bill, Minister of Justice Bjørn Westh proposes to legalize this dubious practise on the grounds that the rules are already being circumvented ...
Associate Professor Jørn Vestergaard of the University of Copenhagen is concerned about the procedure: »It is most unsatisfactory that the police initiates so alarming a practise and afterwards intend to obtain a precise legal authority with the argument that 'we have been doing this all the time'.« (Jyllands-Posten, 11/9-96).
Ralf Peter Hemmingsen, consultant psychiatrist at Bispebjerg Hospital, criticizes that a proposal for a new law of psychiatry will permit forced hospitalization of mentally ill persons without a warrant (Politiken, 12/18-96): »My conception of justice is affronted if an administrative imprisonment like forced hospitalization no longer has to be tried in court.«
For the patients, however, it is more than their »conception of justice« that is affronted.
The Prime Minister: Stronger forcible means to police and courts
The violence campaigns in the media caused the Queen to make violence the main theme of this year's New year's speech: »I think it will be the young generation which will really settle with the brutality and lack of responsibility which far too often characterizes our time.«
As a matter of fact, it is an open question whether the »brutality« of violence really characterizes our time, or whether she is in fact a victim of the same propaganda that the Prime Minister displayed in his New Year's speech?
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen said, among other things: »People must be able to walk the streets without looking over their shoulder« ...
Now, the question is what the Prime Minister really wants to say with this, and whether he really is presenting a realistic picture of today's Denmark - is it true that people cannot »walk the streets without looking over their shoulder«?
No. The Queen and the prime Minister are indisputably lying when they make the violence a growing characteristic; according to all experts, violence has been falling or stagnating for years. But then why are our Heads of State lying?
The New Year's speech of Nyrup Rasmussen may give part of the answer: »The police and courts will have stronger means in the fight against those who threaten others and despise human life.« And this does not concern the ministers who »threaten others and despise human life«, e.g. by returning refugees to torture and death - if somebody should be in doubt - but, of course, the illusory crowds of thugs making the streets insecure for honest citizens ...
Ole Brink, a doctor and investigator of violence at Aarhus Amtssygehus says, in accordance with the scientific consensus on the subject: »In their election campaign, the politicians are trying to decrease violence and not least the public fear of violence. But the result exactly the opposite. Their Bills and New Year's speeches only increase the fear of violence at a time where violence indisputably is decreasing markedly and where the politicians know it. It is disquieting.« (Jyllands-Posten, 1/3-7).
How do the responsible politicians react when confronted with the scientific facts?
Minister of Justice Frank Jensen states to the same newspaper: »I think that the whole population has a clear idea that the serious violence has become more bestial, it is more unpredictable and directed against innocents. I will not wait until the criminologists have analyzed their way to concluding that this is a fact« ... No, that would also be difficult since it is not a fact but a forgery.
The newly appointed Minister of Justice was not fired, however. He was not even reprimanded.
Control of marital cohabitance
Denmark, Sweden, and Finland announce a tightening of practise in cases concerning the reunion of families; in the future, DNA tests or investigations of age will be used. The Immigration Authorities are working on an even more rigorous practise, the so-called »control of marital cohabitation«, where the police has to decide whether those granted the reunion of their family actually live together. (Berlingske Tidende, 1/9-97).
In that connection, Minister of the Interior Birthe Weiss declare: »A high rate of cheating must lead to an extraordinary degree of control. We will not accept swindling.« (Berlingske Tidende, 1/17-97).
Where this high »rate of cheating« might be documented the minister does not tell. And even in those cases where reunions of families actually should prove to be the refugee's cloak for the »crime« of wanting to save fellow human beings who are not their family, the minister's story of the high »cheating rate« is obviously just an alarming example of the minister's own propaganda intended to conceal a heartless politics of asylum which forces refugees to use ever more desperate means.
Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the Danish People's Party: Ban Nazis, bikers and autonomous groups
The revelation of Nazi letter bombs makes a lot of politicians try to score some cheap points.
Minister of Justice Frank Jensen is looking into the possibility of banning the Nazi party, according to Politiken 1/20-97.
Meanwhile, Socialisten Weekend is able to reveal that a ban is exactly what the Nazis are waiting for, it is even a part of their own strategy.
Erik Jensen from the anti-racist documentation group Demos warns against that a paranoia originating in the press be converted to ad-hoc acts against the Danish Nazis: »There's sufficient weight in the existing penal code. (...) It is obvious that they will try to blow themselves up as martyrs who are fighting a justified resistance, if for instance DNSB were to be banned.« (1/17-97).
But the Minister of Justice does not want to limit himself to banning the nazis, he will take care of the bikers at the same time. The leader of the Danish Popular Party, Pia Kjærsgaard, also wishes that both Nazis and bikers be banned - and now we're at it, why not forbid the autonomous groups as well? »The letter bomb case has revealed that the neo-Nazis in Denmark apparently use violence as a part of their political struggle. In much the same way the autonomous groups have previously demonstrated their criminal and anarchist disposition.« (Information, 1/22-97).
Who will be next?
The Ministry of Justice suppresses the fact that prolonged trials are a violation of the human rights
A hitherto unknown memorandum from the Ministry of Justice shows that the waiting times of hundreds of trials in the High Courts are a violation of the human rights; a case must not lie as dead more that 1-1½ years. This memorandum was written by High Court judge John Lundum in 1992.
The citizens have known nothing about this memorandum, since the Ministry of Justice has not published it. According to Berlingske Tidende, 1/26-97, the Ministry of Justice warns the public against using the memorandum when complaining about drawn-out trials, since it does not represent the official position of the Ministry of Justice ... High Court judge John Lundum vouches for his memorandum, however.
The Danish Police Union complains about policemen's obligation to tell the truth
The commission that has to investigate the riots on Nørrebro (Copenhagen) in 1993 where police shot against demonstrators is cancelling its interrogation of the ordinary policemen.
This is because the Danish Police Union has complained to the High Court, since they find it unfair that the policemen must be interrogated as normal witnesses. Normal witnesses have an obligation of telling what they saw - and of telling the truth...
Test of political refugees: Assessment of genitals and pubic hair
Associate Professor in Immigration Law Jens Vedsted Hansen of the Danish Center for Human Rights criticizes the humiliating testing of asylants' age that is based on an assessment of the pubic hair and genitals of the applicant. He says to Berlingske Tidende: »Having to stand naked in front of a stranger and letting oneself examine demands some sort of legal authority - and I see none such in the Aliens Act.« (2/28-97).
The Aliens Committee defends itself that participation in this test is voluntary. The question is then if this will influence the application for asylum of the individual refugee, and the Director of the Aliens Committee, Claes Nilas, answers: »If people refuse, we will have to note it in their papers. But it is clear that we will have to ask ourselves: 'Why does the person in question not want to participate in this?'«
A voluntary test? Of pubic hair and genitals?!
DNA register of suspects
In an answer during a hearing, the Authority for Supervision of Registers approves not only a DNA register for convicted criminals, but also of suspects, even if they are later acquitted.
The director of the Authority for Supervision of Registers Henrik Waaben declares: »Letting the register include persons who are not convicted is going quite far. But society's benefit from this register exceeds the discomfort of being registered in it.« (Jyllands-Posten, 2/8-97). We would like to know if Waaben speaks from personal experience? If not, it appears pretty confident talking so neglectingly about the »discomfort of being in« the register. The register should also include minors, suggests the president of Danish Criminal Police Association, Henning Glintberg, according to Jyllands-Posten 3/4-97. But the information should not be unlimited, as is reassuringly established - oh no, they take one step at a time ...
According to Professor of Law Peter Blume, the new national database of addresses that will represent a further centralization of information with access for more and more authorities and companies forms part of the same development.
He declares to Jyllands-Posten: »This is yet another example of the construction of vast centralized registers. The authorities' knowledge of the Danes is ever more comprehensive and unambiguous. We have just had the discussion about a DNA register and as soon as that was established, about a centralized register for fingerprints. It is safe to say that something is happening in this area.« (3/4).
Police Inspector Kurt Jensen has, as a matter of fact, already advocated taking the final step and make a DNA register including all Danes without exception (Politiken, 11/21-96).
It is safe to say that something is happening in this area.
Prison direction refuses to permit inmates to speak with the press
The spokesman of the prisoners in Horsens State Penitentiary accuses the prison direction of using gross lies and freely invented accounts of biker terror in the prison. To Ekstra Bladet he declares: »The warden Jørgen Bang who is also a conservative deputy mayor in Horsens is exploiting the situation with the Biker War to get more money. Last week we suggested that the management invite the press, so they could speak with each of the inmates and thus hear the truth. This was refused.«(3/12-97).
The spokesman for the inmates at Vridsløselille Peter Lembcke also refuses to talk about strong and weak prisoners in the jails and says the true division is between junkies and non-junkies: »Let the junkies be taken under treatment somewhere else and let us criminals be here in the prisons - without the restrictions that have been imposed on us because of the drugs in the prisons. (Kristeligt Dagblad, 3/1-97).
Military intelligence: 2. generation immigrants constitute a national security risk
The latest security analysis of the Military Intelligence Service (FET) declares that 2. and 3. generation immigrants represent a special threat against national security. In FET's threat estimate, the following is stated according to Jyllands-Posten: »The Danish development in the direction of a multiethnic society where representatives (2. or 3. generation) of immigrants or refugees are drafted or volunteer to serve in the army, may represent a certain risk for causing the presence of persons who, for reasons of loyalty or dependency will act for or sympatize with terrorist organizations in the respective home countries and in this connection carry out intelligence activities.«(3/18-97).
FET thus sends a signal throwing suspicion of a really gross character on the thousands of Danish citizens whose potential for terror apparently consists in the very incriminating fact that their parents or grandparents do not happen to be born in Denmark.
Minister of Education Ole Vig Jensen will not allow the 24 new schools rooted in the old Tvind-community to employ principals from the controversial former Tvind teacher group.
The Minister of Education pays no heed to the fact that the procedure towards the teacher's group was criticized very severely already a month before: »Dr. Goebbels would have been pleased with this way of throwing suspicion on the teacher's group, states the business lawyer Klaus Behring.« (Information 2/23-96).
Berlingske Tidende asks Vig Jensen: »So the new schools could not be approved because their principals were affiliated to the teacher's group?« To this, the minister answers: »I cannot formulate it that way. There is no warrant for that in the law. But it is important and an essential part of the overall approval.«(3/24-97).
One must get by.
Ekstra Bladet: »The foreigners« undermine happy, harmonic Denmark
March 31st Ekstra Bladet launches the campaign »Why do we need the foreigners«, whose tone and intention is menacingly close to the Nazi magazine Der Stürmer.
Editor-in-chief Sven Ove Gade states the intention the same day in an introductory article: »Every day, the accustomed picture of Denmark is changing. From being a harmonic, manageable society we are more and more influenced by people with a different ethnic and religious background. (...) Nobody has asked them to come. They just come.«
TV commercials accompanied by the national anthem show black silhouettes of crowds entering the country, giant posters all over the country complain xenophobic slogans, and as common emblem the logo of Ekstra Bladet is shown with the name of the newspaper written in Arabic - in other words, we have to imagine a future where the immigration and the »arabization« even has ousted the Danish native language ...
Newspaper headlines like »Hatred and Distrust« and »No more refugees« (written on a »No Parking«-sign) express what the newspaper calls the voice of the people; the people who will no longer put up with »goodness«, from time to time contradicted by a few experts like, for instance, Professor Jørgen Bæk Simonsen from the Carsten Niebuhr Institute, so the newspaper outwardly can feign some self-respect - this really is a »debate«! Or, like Sven Ove Gade admonished the critics in an editorial: Why are the intellectuals so upset? »Ekstra Bladet permits itself to raise some important questions: How can we best and most efficiently help? How many immigrants must Denmark take?« (4/13-97).
Aha! So that's the point of a front page with the text »Hatred and Distrust«. Yes, what else would it be?
From time to time, positive scoops are launched, like the story of the Somalian family that in »Denmark, this foolishly kind paradise« receives 630.000 kroner in welfare. An outcry is raised.
For comparison, Ekstra Bladet can inform its readers that a typical Danish wage earner makes about 220.000 kroner annually, that only 6% of the population earns more than 300.000, and only 1% more than 500.000 kroner. The Somalian family consists of three adults and eleven children.
Fourteen people sharing 630.000 kroner - is that really so unacceptable? Editor-in-chief Sven Ove Gade makes more than a million all by himself just for sowing hatred, distrust and fear in the public - and in spite of the fact, that his family is considerably smaller than the Somalian one. That absurd disparity will of course hardly make headlines.
In stead, the editorialist weeps over those Danes who »suffer«, all the things we have to be without because a family of fourteen can receive 630.000 kroner of public money: »... every day some Danes, self-employed persons, who have to give up their homes because they no longer can cope with the taxman.« (5/23-97). So the Somalian refugees are taking the bread out of the mouths of our poor self-employed persons who are really driven hard!
»It's important to sit as fierce guardians of the Treasury«, declares an outraged Karen Jespersen, Minister of Social Affairs, about the case in the news in DR1 television 5/28-97. The millions of her own salary are apparently not to be touched.
The Minister also finds no reason to explain that any family, even if its surname was Hansen instead of Ali, under the same circumstances would have received exactly the same amount.
Already the day after, Ekstra Bladet is able to publish a bundle of indignant letters to the editor because of the welfare of the Somalian family - which must have been mailed pretty rapidly, considering the time it takes to edit and print a newspaper ...
One of the main features of the campaign is actually that of letting the reader, the »average Dane«, be heard in letters to the editor and special interviews.
In an editorial, the following is said about this: »As a part of Ekstra Bladet's campaign we not only publish letters, but we have also chosen to interview some of the writers. Their opinions can be very harsh, but this happens to be part of the popular reality.« (Ekstra Bladet, 4/6-97)
One of the first to be chosen to describe »a part of the popular reality« is managing director Lillian Sandstad, who turns her unreserved criticism against the Muslims: »... they walk around with their culture.«
»The culture (the Danish culture, of course) disappears automatically, and we will end up having a civil war,« (3/31-97) she declares. Steen Lyngaae Jørgensen continues along the same track and also describes especially Muslims as a big problem. »Their use of headscarfs is a sign that they do not want to absorb the Danish culture and be integrated in society.« (4/1-97). Erik Rasmussen also feels that the Danish culture is endangered - if nothing more, then at least the Danish food culture: » ... I would also like to be able to continue eating meat balls and roast pork. (...) According to the Koran, they have to kill us all« (4/2-97). If we, in spite of the intention of the conspiratorial Muslims want to be absolutely certain of keeping both meat balls and roast pork, Børge Hartmann Christensen presents an infallible solution: »If you want me to say it in so many words: Lock them up.« (4/3-97). Helge Yndigegn, on the other hand, emphasizes in a more moderate vein that while he would never vote for a political candidate with an »Immigrant background«, he still thinks that the current »problems of integration« might be solved, if only the frontier was closed at once (7.4.97) ...
What was the question that the newspaper's campaign »permitted itself« to raise, according to the editor-in-chief? Oh yes - »How can we best and most efficiently help« ...
But for the same reason the newspaper prefers to refer to its campaign as a »debate«, as has been mentioned, and as a consequence it has interviewed two anti-racist readers. Now there's some sort of balance in things.
The first of these, Kristoffer Thorn Poulsen, is described as a happy satirist, feels that »the foreigners« are scapegoats and adds that Danish culture actually is not all that Danish, since »potatoes and snaps come from Holland«. Thorn Poulsen is weary of extremes, though: »On one side are all those who believe that everything related to refugees and immigrants is bad. On the other hand those who go into raptures about the foreigners' good cooking and think everything is wonderful.« (5.4.97).
This opinion is obviously very liberal and open according to Ekstra Bladet's picture of the world, and luckily for the editor-in-chief, the journalist succeeds in convincing Thorn Pedersen that he might be less liberal if he lived in a place with a high concentration of immigrants and refugees ...
Jens Laursen-Schmidt also appears to belong to the opposition in this »debate«. He finds that all Danish culture is already imported, and advocates more tolerance; he does find it unreasonable, however, that a Muslim boy in a Danish primary school refuses to shower with his Danish classmates.
That's bad - so there's the limit.
Of course, Laursen-Schmidt is also asked if his attitude would be less liberal if he were to live in a place with a high concentration of immigrants: »I don't know. Maybe.« (6.4.97). Once again, the immanent thesis of Ekstra Bladet is confirmed: It is easy enough to be so uncommonly »good« and liberal as Thorn Poulsen and Laursen-Schmidt, as long as the problem is far away - but if you live near refugees and immigrants it is another matter entirely.
Of these objective in-depth interviews, the following self-righteous statement is found in one of the editorials we quoted earlier: »As something completely new, we have chosen to speak with our readers as we would with experts, participants and victims in other areas.«(4/6-97).
Very reassuring for the »experts, participants and victims« that Ekstra Bladet usually interviews.
»The readers speak out, where the politicians renounce«, is how the newspaper characterizes its special care for the opinion of the public, that is, the readers. From the very representative selection of seven people interviewed by Ekstra Bladet during the campaign, the two last, »immigrant-friendly« readers are not asked about their political affiliation; of the remaining five, two are members of the Danish People's Party, a right-wing party which has xenophobia as the most important item on its program, one is a member of the Conservative Party, another does not wish to reveal his political affiliation, and one »does not remember«...
Ekstra Bladet's »popular reality«.
Amnesty International: Thousands of refugees are imprisoned every year in Denmark. Their crime? They solicited asylum.
In the April edition of Amnesty, Amnesty International uncover Denmark's treatment of refugees under the headline: »Refugees routinely jailed«.
The jurist Kim Kjær, expert in refugee law and researcher at the Danish Centre for Human Rights declares: »Non-criminal refugees are to a relatively great extent jailed on the basis of a superficial consideration of the case. This is problematic compared with the Danish legislation and is at odds with the European Human Rights Convention as well as the guidelines from UNHCR.«
The »relatively great extent« amounted in 1996 alone to about 2,000 refugees! Some were imprisoned a few days, others in several months, a few have been jailed for more than a year - as an example, Jyllands-Posten informs 6/25-97 that an Algerian with no passport or visa has been jailed for as much as 18 months. There is nothing in the law to prevent that he in principle could remain locked up for the rest of his life!
What crime have these people committed? They have solicited asylum in Denmark.
The UN's High Commission, UNHCR, criticizes the procedure and suggests as a general principle, that those who solicit asylum »should not be imprisoned«. Where imprisonment may be used as an exception, it must be limited to a »minimal« period of time, and alternative possibilities such as the obligation to report regularly must have been attempted beforehand, unless »proof that these will not be effective« exists.
This is far from characterizing the Danish procedure.
In Amnesty, Jan Aagaard writes: »Amnesty has witnessed 22 hearings concerning imprisonment of refugees. The hearings give the impression that the refugees are jailed routinely, without any specific arguments to motivate the imprisonment.« In an overwhelming majority of the cases, the police presented no motivation for the necessity of the imprisonment - and yet the judge prolonged the imprisonment without any further ceremony.
Refugees coming from countries characterized as »safe« by the Danish authorities may be imprisoned while their case is considered; refugees whose request for asylum has been rejected but refuse to leave the country voluntarily may be imprisoned and finally foreigners who arrive at the border with no passport and visa may be imprisoned - regardless of how they might have lost their papers. There is no upper limit as to how long time the imprisonment can be maintained.
Lawyer Anders Chr. Jensen declares to Amnesty: »No real examination is being carried out in court. Normally, the police get it the way they want. We should be ashamed that the Danish legal system can work this way.«
Kim Kjær from the Danish Centre for Human Rights thinks that there is a great risk the procedure may be in violation of human rights: »Refugees are being jailed quite routinely. These cases are simply decided in advantage, and this is very problematic compared with the human rights.«
The last six years, 16,000 foreigners have been jailed according to the rules in the Aliens Act; about 90% of those were refugees requesting asylum.
Muslim expelled for praying to God
The technical school Trekanten in Kolding expelled the Muslim Mohamed Hassan Elmi for praying to God in a compartment in a corridor outside the canteen. Mohamed Hassan Elmi declares to Jyllands-Posten of the harassment that preceded the expulsion: »They were throwing pebbles, kicking on the wall, yelling at me, and drawing idols on the walls of the compartment.« (4/11-97).
It was not the racist participants of courses, but the injured Muslim who was rebuked by the teacher and told to leave the Center and never return!
A bar fight is sufficient grounds to deport immigrants and refugees
A working party in the Ministry of the Interior suggests that a sentence of 30 days of prison should be sufficient grounds for expulsion. A fight in a bar will, according to Ekstra Bladet, typically result in such a sentence.
Hereby, Denmark obviously not only vanquishes the legal principle that everybody is equal before the law but since the result of a deportation may be to return the perpetrator to the penitentiary system from which he escaped, this may imply reintroducing the death penalty - only the politicians elegantly wash their hands, since it will not be in Denmark that executioner pulls the trigger ...
The aim of Den Danske Forening is fulfilled
Ole Hasselbalch, president of Den Danske Forening (»The Danish League«, an extremely xenophobic organization) considers dissolving the league, since its aim has been fulfilled. Today's debate about foreigners renders the league superfluous to some extent, as he concludes in Jyllands-Posten in April: »Today no politician is unaware that he can only survive by saying what we have been saying all along.«
Congratulations to Hasselbalch, congratulations to Ekstra Bladet - congratulations to the Danish society which has moved so far that Den Danske Forening no longer belongs to the extreme right wing but is solidly based in the broad political centre!
The Council for the Prevention of Torture criticizes the Danish prison administration and police.
According to Information, 4/24-97, a new report from the European Council for the Prevention of Torture criticizes the use of solitary confinement without a time limit. This is an unusual and extraordinary forcible means; for comparison, in Turkey it is only possible to spend ten daysin solitary confinement!
Furthermore, the assessment from independent medical authorities is requested concerning the use of chemical castration against sexual criminals, since the committee does not find any account of such a punishment in internationally acknowledged medical journals. Hereby, the Minister of the Interior, Birthe Weiss is disparaged; Weiss stated to Politiken 2/14-97, that there was no reason to have any second thoughts about the use of chemical castration, even though the long term effects are unknown - the same way as similar claims from former Minister of Justice Bjørn Westh were denied by Jens Ersbøll, leader of the Health Authorities' department of evaluation of medicine already in November 1996... None of the ministers has been dismissed. None of them has been reprimanded.
The Torture Committee is most severe, however, when criticizing the Danish police for employing a very broad estimate when informing prisoners of their rights.
Torture of suspects
Almost 1/3 of the approximately 1.500 people that every year is taken into custody in solitary confinement suffer psychological injury because of the imprisonment. Two doctors and a psychologist recommend in the light of a large investigation of the subject, that solitary confinement of people in custody - that is, of suspects who have not been convicted - is banned altogether.
The investigation shows that a psychiatric diagnosis may be made on 28% of all prisoners in solitary confinement. Of all prisoners in custody about 10% serve more than two months, and among those, the percentage of psychiatric diagnoses increases to 43%.
The psychologist Tommy Lillebæk states in the light of the investigation: »If this investigation had been of a working environment, they'd shut down the enterprise at once. « (Jyllands-Posten, 4/30-97).
The psychologist and the two doctors do not stand alone with their opinion; The torture committee of the European Council (CPT) had already criticized the Danish prison administration, the methods of the police, and the use of solitary confinement a week before, as described above.
Former Olympic swimmer Peter Rohde has felt solitary confinement on his own body and tells about this on May 3rd in Berlingske Tidende, where he communicates his personal experience with this kind of custody.
Rohde attacks the hypocrisy involved when Denmark ,e.g., accuses Turkey of violating the human rights by using torture: »... the Danish self-worship and narrow-minded morality which really makes me sick is the lack of attention on oneself before accusing others. (...) Torture is used in Denmark. Only the torture is more sophisticated than electrical shocks to the genitals and only leave little physical injury, apart from those individuals who appear to go directly to locked wards or are interred. With solitary confinement , the police do not have to bash the suspects themselves.«
Rohde was taken into custody because of an anonymous tip about drug traffic: »It is still very difficult to accept the how an 'anonymous' message which was probably fabricated by the police themselves could contribute so much pain, despair, impotence, suspicion and the total destruction of my former life. The assault on my person and my life and the psychological torture involved is only one of many cases that the public appears to have accepted. Is this a suitable treatment for people who the police find suspicious? I do not accept this treatment, for it is cruel, inhumane and belongs in a Kafkaesque dictatorship - not in Denmark of the Little Mermaid!«
Rohde has no hesitation in asserting that he, had he been given the choice, would have preferred physical torture to solitary confinement: »The police will tell you that you will be allowed to see your beloved in a room with clean sheets, if only you tell 'another story' and confess.' Your girlfriend is no better than she should be,' a policeman will tell you while leading you back to what he calls: 'your stinking hole.' He is right about the brown, stinking hole, someone has smeared excrements, snot, nicotine, and nose picks on the wall. Here is where you spend the next lonely years, months and sleepless nights considering your beloved's possible infidelity and 'confessing' in order to get out of solitary confinement.«
Solitary confinement meant supervised visit one hour a week in a cell of seven square meters. Daylight would enter the cell from a small window near the ceiling, but crawling up and looking out was expressly forbidden. No telephone calls except with the lawyer. Half an hour of fresh air twice a day in a yard covered with fencing wire.
A fair treatment of a criminal? Of a suspect? Of an innocent? Peter Rohde was acquitted of all charges.
At that time, he had spent more that a year in solitary confinement. He became a suspect because of an anonymous tip.
Police seize TV footage from the occupation of an embassy
When a group of autonomous radicals for two hours occupied the embassy of Peru in solidarity with the members of the Marxist revolutionary MRTA who had been killed in Lima a week before, the TV station TV-Stop from Copenhagen recorded the whole event.
The police, however, seized the footage as evidence in the case. The TV station was not even allowed to keep a copy and was unable to document the events and suffered a blackout. (Information, 4/30-96).
Ekstra Bladet's editorial: The immigration is compared to the German occupation 1940-45 On occasion of the anniversary of Denmark's liberation in 1945, Ekstra Bladet advocates , under the headline »Occupation!«, the idea that »the enemy« has returned in a new disguise!
The editorial warns the guard in the air defence tower looking south: »He does not see that the enemy is already in the living room, for he does not know the enemy's disguise. He does not understand that devilry will never return in exactly the same fashion. » (5/5-97).
Who is, then, »the enemy« according to Ekstra Bladet and who represents the »devilry«, which so cunningly has repeated the success of the occupying German forces in today's Denmark?
»There is an occupation without a war. It sneaks up on us without bloodshed, imperceptibly taking over the control of our lives, and the control of our freedom as a nation. Europeism and immigration constitute the existing threat against Denmark's freedom as a nation »!
Europeism and immigration are the new occupying armies that threaten the Danish nation. By »europeism« Ekstra Bladet, which recommended a »yes« at both referenda on the Maastricht treaty, strangely enough means the bureaucracy and custodialism of the EU (In order to please those on the right opposed to the EU, of course, to whom the EU's oppression of ethnic minorities is nowhere near being sufficiently inhumane).
This grotesquely demagogic parallel between immigrants and occupying armies is obviously nothing more than new parameters in the same black conceptual framework that during the German occupation converted the Jews into an occupying force with a global conspiracy!
That's how far it has come.
The editorial continues: »The big temptation for today's people is not the war, but Peace exalted to a project » ...!
The enemy is already in our living room, the editorialist admonishes.
Yes. Let's hope that the Danes - coloured and white, immigrants as well as natives - will recognize him before it's too late.
A central database in the EU will register the Danes' race, sexuality, work, etc.
On May 5th, a majority in the Danish Parliament approves Europol's central file that officially will be used for fighting international crime. According to Det Fri Aktuelt this means that Europol »in the future can register whatever they please on the Danes.« (5/6-97). DNA samples from the new Danish DNA register will also be a part of the central EU register.
As long as the information is »necessary«, in a very, very broad sense, for investigations, the so-called analysis databases of Europol are free to register information of the personal affairs of any Dane, like for instance family, work, life style, race, sexuality, etc. ...
Anders Fogh Rasmussen: »memory cell« or »camp« for unidentifiable refugees
Anders Fogh Rasmussen from Venstre (a traditionally liberal and quite influential party to the right in Danish politics) does not want to »stop at« using force in order to make Danes and immigrants take any job whatsoever; he also wants to get a special »gradual absorption salary« for immigrants, even though they do exactly the same work as their (apparently more!) Danish colleagues!
And then we have the problem with refugees who in their desperate situation cannot or will not reveal their origin lest they be returned. In this case, it is not a question of special understanding or sympathy, no, they must be forced into identifying themselves, whether they can or not.
»... we have to find some means of forcing them into producing some sort of identification.« (Ekstra Bladet, 5/8-97). How about a »camp« or a »memory cell«, asks the ingenious journalists, to which Fogh Rasmussen replies: »You can use whatever expression you like« ...
According to the same interview, Venstre also wants to oppose the »absurdity«, that Muslim girls refuse to let their pubic hair examine when their age is to be estimated!
No, we must be on our guard - nothing is too intimate when it comes to exposing the fraudulent Muslim girls.
The court's acquittal is no longer an acquittal
The High Court acquitted two members of Hell's Angels of the murder of a member of Bandidos in Kastrup Airport on December 20, 1996. And yet they are still »guilty in the opinion of the police and the prosecution and must be convicted of the crime,« writes Jyllands-Posten, 5/8-97.
According to common practise, however, an acquittal is an acquittal; when the High Court's verdict was finished, the question of guilt was decided, and that's that. But as something totally new, the police has gone to the Court of Appeal (Klageretten) in order to get a retrial.
This is obviously a symptom of a dangerous slide in the legal guarantees, because it can mean that the prosecution can reopen finished cases until the question of guilt is decided the way they want. Thus, the judicial power is displaced a little more towards the police.
Juries, of course, will more easily find people guilty the second time based on the consideration that the acquittal must have been a mistake - if not, why reopen the case?
»Neither the president of the Court of Appeal nor the Supreme Court judge nor the Public Prosecutor recall any precedents,« Jyllands-Posten observes.
Political majority for keeping political scandals secret
A broad majority is behind a Bill for a new law of courts of inquiry which will prevent the public from accessing information of the statements of politicians and civil servants in connection with political scandals.
In April Socialdemokratiet, Det Konservative Folkeparti, Det Radikale Venstre, Centrum Demokraterne, and Venstre were behind a Bill that is based on the proposal from the so-called Nordskov commission from June 1996. The inquiries are supposed to take place in city court behind closed doors, without public access. The commission's result will then be evaluated by a new parliamentary commission that will decide who may possibly be held responsible in the case.
President of Court Frank Poulsen, who was the leader of an inquiry concerning the scandal about Himmerlandsbanken, a bank that failed after a series of dubious investments, warns emphatically against the Bill: »It is totally unreasonable that several years may pass without the public hearing anything about what is going on. In most countries, the system is much more open and transparent - in the USA people would never dream of closing the doors in such cases« (4/22-97).
In May, however, Venstre abandons the Bill, and Erling Olsen (president of the Danish Parliament) consequently suggests an »intermediary solution« so that the Bill can be approved with as large a majority as possible: »A solution could be that the doors of the courts of inquiry are closed in principle, while open doors may be chosen under the right circumstances ...« (Kristeligt Dagblad, 5/9-97).
Since 1980 there has been 24 courts of inquiry in Denmark, among others, cases of the conditions of refugees in the Danish prisons, of fraud in the Treasury, of the forcible removal of the inhabitants of Thule, Greenland, and of the violation of the rights of Tamil refugees. With the Social Democrats and the Conservatives leading on, the public will henceforth be spared the details of such incriminating cases.
Professor of law Beth Grothe Nielsen: Solitary confinement is maltreatment
On May 14, associate professor, lic.jur. Beth Grothe Nielsen, launches a vehement attack of the way Danish politicians have ignored the criticism of the use of solitary confinement. In her article, she writes among other things: »The technique is familiar: 'The criticism is unjustified, and besides things are no better in other countries - and besides, we are awaiting the result of an investigation performed by a committee of experts.' This technique is also used by Danish politicians, e.g., when reacting to the criticism from The European Commission for the Prevention of Torture - a criticism, that among other things is based on Denmark's extensive use of solitary confinement during custody. 'I will not decide whether something should be done before I have seen the report from the expert committee,' declares Dorte Bennedsen (Social Democrats). 'I don't believe that the conditions in Danish prisons are any worse that in other countries', says Birthe Rønn Hornbech (Venstre). 'Part of the criticism is exaggerated, for instance that two prisoners had to spend a couple of days in a cell of 80 sq. ft. (8 meters squared) for some days. It leaves me cold, since there is only 5 sq. ft. for each child in a kindergarten', says Helge Adam Møller (Conservatives). All according to Politiken, May 5, 1997. We understand that Møller believes that prisoners should be treated no better than children in a kindergarten. One might turn around this argument and ask whether the Torture Committee next time ought to look at the space allotted for children in kindergarten - or if this ought to be included in the description of children's reality in Denmark, next time (1998), the Ministry of Justice has to hand in a report to the UN committee for the convention of children's rights.«
The politicians' behaviour may be characterized as a »extremely peculiar hypocrisy« and »it seems the case has been shelved«, observes Grothe Nielsen, since a sufficient number of alarming investigations performed by doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists already exist - the last of these unequivocally prompted the government to stop all use of solitary confinement of prisoners in custody. In many other cases, the politicians have no trouble at all rushing new legislation through without any kind of enquiry, e.g. when various »violence Acts« or a tightening of the legislation concerning political asylum has to be carried through.
Already in 1994, the Torture Committee criticized Denmark's use of solitary confinement: »The committee itself finds serious cause to be concerned about what is going on. And it is not impressed by what has happened since its last visit.«
Refugees who refuse to »go home« are deprived of all financial support
The latest statement from the police shows that 524 foreigners refuse to assist in their own expulsion. With a hitherto unprecedented harshness, refugees who have been denied asylum must be forced out of the country, while at the same time refugees who have arrived illegally must be forced to »co-operate with the police«.
The leader of the Central Police Department, Police Inspector Jørgen Tagge declares the following to Jyllands-Posten, 5/26-97: »... refugees who give false information or who refuse to assist in their own expulsion will have their pocket money withdrawn », that is, all the 527 kroner supposed to cover all expenses to clothes, transportation and other things, which leaves the refugees at subsistence level, where they only receive food and housing.
For instance, a number of refugees refuse to inform the police of their escape route, just as many withhold personal information out of fear that the authorities do not think that the political prosecution and civil war are sufficiently well.
This criminalization and total humiliation of refugees is criticized by the Danish red Cross as well as by Dansk Flygtningehjælp (a humanitarian organization dedicated to assisting refugees).
Inge Dahl-Sørensen from Venstre, however, demands that all refugees thus criminalized be interned without further ado. As she declares to Jyllands-Posten: »By internment, those we have rejected are prevented from getting extra income through crime. At length, their stay will not be very pleasant. As this is rumoured throughout the world, the stream of refugees will be limited.« (5/21-97).
What an exemplary political foresight demonstrated by Venstre, which represents a very elegant, if not very humane, way of eliminating the refugee problem all over the world - who would ever choose to escape to a concentration camp?!
New Social Security Act: more forced activation
On May 15th the Danish Parliament passed a new Social Security Act designed by Minister for Social Affairs Karen Jespersen. According to the new law, all unemployed who are less than 30 years old must be forcibly activated within 13 weeks.
Those who, for instance, are forcibly activated in a day-care institution, must work for a third of the normal salary without the right to obtain an unemployment insurance. If you show up late or do not show up, the financial help may be decreased or stopped altogether. »Same salary for the same work« is considered a reasonable although still unfulfilled demand from women doing the same job as men, but being paid a lower salary - with the new Social Security Act, the agreement system is virtually disabled, and people are being forced into extremely underpaid work. It is obvious that this may end up creating a competition between these underpaid forcibly activated and normal workers.
In January, Ekstra Bladet gave an example of forcible activation, when the newspaper described a man from Sydfalster on social security, who during an »employment project« was asked to weed a garden in frozen earth, while the thermometer showed 8 degrees below zero degrees centigrade. The mayor of Sydfalster does not think, however, that this is senseless work: »Every job that needs to be done is meaningful.« (Ekstra Bladet, 1/8-97).
The following day, the man behind this ingenious activation, foreman Jørgen Rasmussen, proudly states to the same newspaper: »The social security recipient was not a very stable worker and did not quite fulfil the conditions for getting his salary. Then I promised to take care of him.« (1/9-97).
In November, the Minster for Social Affairs declared the following to Politiken about forcible activation: »The secret is, of course, to formulate the requirement of activation so that it does not appear to be a punitive expedition » (11/11-96). A well-kept secret.
Hand-cuffed prisoners get beaten by police
On may 17th, a trivial traffic offence escalated into a confrontation between bricks and truncheons on Nørrebro (Copenhagen).
The officer on duty on Copenhagen's Police Headquarters, police inspector Preben Jensen gives the following description of the incident to Information, 5/20-97: »A dog squad stops a car with four foreigners because of technical problems with the car. One of the immigrants draws a knife and threatens the policeman's dog and subsequently the officer himself, who grabs for his pocket. He does not have the time for taking out the gun before the immigrants have run off to Blågårds Plads. The officer shouts 'knifes' and rapidly a lot of police cars arrive at the scene. We're not very popular in that area.«
It all ends in a violent confrontation; According to the officer on duty, however, it was »not as violent as it appeared on TV.«
According to Bashy Quraishy, president of the cross-cultural association Fair Play, the reaction of the young people was provoked by the very »direct tactics« of the police. »Violent demonstrations of power do not work, we know that from England and France. If a young man is beaten up once, the police has lost him for the rest of his life.«
Hanne Bech Hansen, Commissioner of the Copenhagen Police, thinks that the main reason for the confrontations is the young immigrants' authority problem: »... It may not be nice things they have heard about the police in the countries they come from. It's important that they understand that when the police arrives, it is both as their protectors and as the Government' power apparatus.«
According to Martin Petersen, camera man from the local TV station Local Eyes, it was mainly in the latter sense, the young people met the police on may 17th: »The prisoners were moved from a patrol car to a police van, where they were about ten minutes yelling and screaming. In our shooting you can clearly hear what's going on inside the car; they are being beaten so that the van is rocking, and it's really disgusting.«
This episode is not unique.
Attorney Erling Andresen writes in his memoirs Ret og vrang (Right and Wrong), that the ordinary police violence is not rare at all: »... nobody who has been a defence lawyer, even if only a few years, can doubt that prisoners are being beaten in the police van on their way to the headquarters, but only in a few exceptional cases would it be possible even to render it probable.« (p. 80).
Professor of Law: Europol in violation of the Danish constitution
Professor of Law Hjalte Rasmussen of the University of Copenhagen warns in a 24-page article, that the approval of Danish participation in the European police co-operation, the Europol Convention, is a violation of article 20 of the Danish Constitution. There is probably a transfer of sovereignty from the national courts to the European court, concludes the professor.
»The provisional conclusion must consequently be that many things seem to indicate that ratifying the (Europol) protocol demands a treatment of article 20, since the concession of the monopoly of interpretation to the European court implies a transfer of sovereignty in the sense of article 20.« The European Court »appears more and more like a superior court in relation to the national ones. Not superior in the technical sense of appeals, but in the sense that it is ever more obvious, that the Court is setting the pace: the national court will have to request a prejudicial statement if it wants to abide by the expectations of the European Court.« (Information, 5/28-97).
According to the Constitution's article 20, a majority of five out of six, or a referendum, is necessary in order to transfer sovereignty to international organizations. On may 30, the Danish Parliament ratified the Schengen agreement by simple majority, and so ratified the Europol convention.
The approval was hurried through according to an internal memorandum from the Ministry of Justice (5/13-97),published by Information, which emphasizes, that many legal aspects are still unclarified: »It is still very unclear which legal effects are associated with the present draft. A more founded attitude demands that a series of legal and technical aspects are clarified.«
Only two weeks later, the Minister of Justice believed that the conclusion of »the Government's investigation« is that there is no violation of the Constitution. An investigation that would be very interesting if published - and compared with the investigation of professor Hjalte Rasmussen, which reaches the opposite conclusion.
Danish demonstrators are
maltreated by Dutch police - the Minister of Foreign Affairs refuses to
investigate the matter despite a request from the vice-consul in
30 Danes were brutally arrested Sunday, June 15 when they, on occasion of the EU summit, carried through a peaceful demonstration protesting the arrests of other EU demonstrants.
Two chains of policemen surrounded the demonstrants soon after the demonstration had begun. Pelle Dragsted states to B.T.: »We had agreed that we would not hold on to each other. We had seen another demonstrator bleeding from a large hole in his head, so we wanted to avoid any kind of escalation.« (6/18-97).
All demonstrators were handcuffed with modern plastic handcuffs and were transported to a Dutch prison. Only after six hours were they allowed to urinate on the grass under sharp police surveillance. Afterwards they were all searched, photographed and stripped of all their belongings.
At 07.20 AM, six of the demonstrators, still in handcuffs, were transported to the maximum security prison P.I. Zutphenrevelhorst where each was placed alone in a cell.
B.T. writes: »In the security hysteria surrounding the EU summit going on these days, Dutch police has committed the most unprecedented and ruthless excesses. No less than 30 Danes have felt the brutality of the Dutch police on their own body. These thirty have, along with hundreds of other foreigners, been placed in solitary confinement since the arres Sunday.«
17 were freed Tuesday, but the following day the remaining 13 were still in solitary confinement in cells in Dutch police stations. Astrid Dahl, who spent two days in solitary confinement, tells of her arrest: »It was about half past five last Sunday. I was walking down the street, when I was suddenly assaulted by plain-clothes policemen. I was blindfolded at once. I thought they were thieves or murderers. They just yelled 'shut up' each time I tried to say something.«
Many of the prisoners spent 24 ours tied with handcuffs without being given anything to eat or drink, informs the Danish vice-consul in Amsterdam Hanne Boomstra, who in spite of all rules was denied access to the imprisoned Danes. On no occasion were the Danes, who were later charged with »membership of a criminal organization«, being offered the assistance of interpreters.
Chairman and parliamentary candidate of Enhedslisten (a coalition of various left-wing organizations), Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theill was among the people arrested and declares to Information: »We were actually not informed that we were under arrest, and a lawyer was out of the question, even though we asked for one several times. Only Tuesday, late in the evening arrived a lawyer, with whom whe talked two or three minutes. I was placed in a women's prison along with 70 others. There we were, two in each bunk in some sort of wooden tent which had been erected for the occasion. Those who used contraceptive pills or medicine had a problem since this had been taken away from them. And when you don't eat the pill, you get your period. When we requested sanitary towels, tampons, or clean briefs, they told us that we might have thought of that before getting arrested. People lay bleeding in their bunks, and people with astma and blood pressure problems had to get by as they could.« (6/19-97).
Vice-consul Boonstra asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate why she had been denied access to the imprisoned Danes without any result. Enhedslisten asked Minister of Foreign Affais Niels Helveg Petersen investigate whether the Danes, who were acquitted of all charges, had been arrested for beinf members of any specific organization.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs answers: »We do not plan to make any steps towards Holland, nor do we wish to do anything to investigate this case.« (6/20-97).
The new treaty was bargained home. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign affairs were extatic. The future of the EU rolls on ice - the Amsterdam summit was a succes.
Human rights report: Increasing racism in Scandinavia
The annual human rights report from the International Helsinki Committee warns again the steadily increasing racism in Scandinavia.
»Racist behaviour against dark-skinned refugees and immigrants is more and more common«, remarks the report according to Information (6/25-97). Furthermore, the report quotes the UN Committee for the Extermination of Racial Discrimination which concludes that »intolerance towards refugees and immigrants was increasing [in 1996] in Danmark.«
Klaus Rothstein from Dansk Flygtningehjælp confirms the report's criticism: »There is an increased national chauvinism and, consequently, racism.«
In the editorial of the same newspaper, Georg Metz writes: »With trembling hands one opens the books and finds the name of our homeland next to Albania, Israel, and Turkey. Two pages for Denmark. That's not all that bad. No, it's not all that bad. Not if one thinks that it's not all that bad that Danish policemen, as established by the report, should be rebuked for their behaviour towards foreigners, and - which is really a serious point in the text - Denmark as a whole is developing a more negative, a more hostile attitude towards people belonging to minorities other that the Danes themselves. Now this is food for thought, since the actions of the Danish authoritites in the bad old days obviously must have arisen from an atmosphere in the public, a tendency, a mentality.«
We have seen it all before.
By Rune Engelbreth Larsen
By Rune Engelbreth Larsen