Denmark Feels Heat Again Over Treatment of Foreigners

Nick Rigillo
Denmark Feels Heat Again Over Treatment of Foreigners

(Bloomberg) -- Denmark is once again grabbing international headlines for its treatment of foreigners.

This week, the United Nations expressed "serious concern" about Danish plans to relocate rejected asylum seekers and convicted immigrants to a small island that was once used for animal testing.

“We’ve seen the negative impact of such policies of isolation, and (governments) should not replicate these policies,” UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet told reporters in Geneva. “Because depriving them of their liberty, isolating them, and stigmatizing them will only increase their vulnerability."

The island of Lindholm, which is located in the center of a bay about 100 kilometers south of Copenhagen, was once used to study contagious diseases affecting cows and pigs.

Plans to turn it into a center for unwanted migrants who can’t be sent home -- many of whom are Muslim -- are the result of a budget agreement reached last week between the center-right government of Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and the Danish People’s Party, which has been the main driving force behind Denmark’s crackdown on immigration.

“These people are, in one way or another, criminals and they are people who pose a threat for the safety of the state,” Integration Minister Inger Stojberg told Danish media. Creating a new center on Lindholm will help us have “much better control over these people,” she said.

Read more about how the public relations fallout of Denmark’s immigration policy

Denmark’s tighter immigration policy has in part been blamed for a shortage of labor following years of solid growth. A string of controversial cases has coincided with difficulties in the country to attract skilled workers from abroad.

The UN said there are enough examples to show that such isolation tactics as those now planned in Denmark tend to backfire. Australia has in the past come under fire from the U.N. for establishing immigration detention facilities on remote islands likened by critics to concentration camps.

(Adds minister’s comment in sixth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Christian Wienberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nick Rigillo in Copenhagen at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Hanfi Brögger at

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