Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Denmark

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 January 1997
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Denmark, 1 January 1997, available at: [accessed 23 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
During 1996, asylum applicants in Denmark filed cases representing 5,896 persons, a 15.5 percent increase from 1995. During 1996, the largest groups of applicants for asylum were Somalis (an estimated 1,750 persons), persons from Iraq (696), stateless Palestinians (606), persons from the former Yugoslavia excluding Bosnia (353), and Bosnians (311). At the end of 1996, applications representing some 4,388 persons remained undecided in the first instance. An estimated 19,000 Bosnians remained in Denmark under various statuses.

During 1996, the Danish Immigration Service granted Convention refugee status to 1,214 of the 7,048 persons whose cases it decided, an approval rate of 17.2 percent. The Immigration Service granted de facto refugee status to 3,622 persons, 51.4 percent of the total, and rejected the applications of 2,212 persons, 31.4 percent of the total.

During 1996, the Immigration Service looked most favorably upon the applications of stateless Palestinians, granting Convention refugee status to 431 and de facto refugee status to 12. The Immigration Service rejected the applications of only 62 stateless Palestinians.

Other groups that generally received favorable Immigration Service decisions were from Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq. Some 1,506 persons from Somalia were granted protection, including 1,481 granted de facto refugee status; only 108 persons from Somalia saw their cases rejected. Some 415 persons from Bosnia were granted Convention refugee status, 1,003 were granted de facto refugee status, and the cases of 522 Bosnians were rejected. Regarding persons from Iraq, 76 were granted Convention status, 592 were granted de facto refugee status, and the cases of 48 were rejected.

In addition to these first-instance decisions, the Refugee Appeals Board granted Convention refugee status in cases representing 235 persons and de facto refugee status in cases representing 727 persons. The Refugee Appeals Board rejected the cases of 1,970 persons.

Each year, Denmark resettles approximately 500 "quota" refugees identified by UNHCR. During 1996, persons from Iraq and Iran made up about 90 percent of those resettled.

Asylum Procedure The asylum procedure is governed by the Aliens Act of 1983, as amended. The Danish Immigration Service, formerly the Directorate for Immigration, makes first-instance decisions on asylum applications. The Immigration Service may grant either Convention refugee status or de facto refugee status, the latter for applicants who do not meet the criteria contained in the UN Refugee Convention but who "ought not to be required to return" to the country of origin. Applications rejected under the normal procedure may be appealed to the Refugee Appeals Board, an independent body.

Persons whose cases have been rejected by the Refugee Appeals Board may apply to the Ministry of the Interior for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds within ten days of their rejection.

The Immigration Service may exercise a special procedure for applications it considers to be "manifestly unfounded." Such applications are forwarded to the Danish Refugee Council, which may support the ruling, resulting in a negative asylum decision with no right of appeal, or oppose the ruling, in which case the application is considered as a normal rejection with the right to appeal. Persons rejected through the manifestly unfounded procedure may apply to the Ministry of the Interior to remain in Denmark on humanitarian grounds. Since 1995, Danish law has permitted detaining asylum seekers whose applications are being – or are expected to be – processed in the manifestly unfounded procedure.

Denmark maintains a list of "safe countries of origin" to identify claims it considers to be manifestly unfounded. Claims submitted by persons from these countries are forwarded without examination to the Danish Refugee Council.

During 1996, the Immigration Service rejected 675 applications under the manifestly unfounded procedure. In 122 of these cases (18 percent), the Danish Refugee Council vetoed the manifestly unfounded rulings, giving the applicants the right to appeal their rejections. During the year, the Refugee Appeals Board granted either Convention or de facto refugee status to applicants in about 19 percent of the cases originally classified as manifestly unfounded.

Restrictive Measures Under provisions of the Aliens Act, Danish authorities may refuse entry to asylum seekers who arrive at the border without valid travel documents if they arrive from a "safe" third country. Such persons can be detained at the border and, on the advice of the Immigration Service, returned to the country through which they traveled. Such rulings can be appealed to the Ministry of the Interior, but appeals do not suspend deportation. During 1996, Denmark rejected 774 persons at its borders on safe third country grounds.

In June, USCR wrote to the Danish ambassador to the United States to enquire about an African asylum seeker – who claimed to be a Hutu from Burundi – who was expelled to Tanzania. USCR asked what steps Denmark had taken "to assess the danger he faced of eventual forced return to Burundi." An embassy representative responded that the asylum seeker's claim to refugee status was "unfounded" and that the question of his return had been "carefully assessed."

Under the 1958 Nordic Passport Union, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are required to check passports at their borders with nonsignatory states and to readmit nationals of nonsignatory states who have passed through their territory and entered the territory of another signatory state without the necessary travel documents.

In December 1996, Denmark signed the acts of adhesion to become a full member of the Schengen group of European Union countries. The Schengen Agreement outlines responsibilities for adjudicating asylum claims for applicants who arrive in the countries covered by the agreement and provides for the removal of border controls between member states, among other provisions.

Former Yugoslavs More than 19,000 Bosnian refugees remained in Denmark under various statuses at the end of 1996, according to UNHCR.

In January 1995, parliament passed a bill that authorized providing the same legal rights to Bosnians as those accorded to recognized refugees, regardless of the outcome of the rulings on the Bosnians' asylum applications. This legislation followed a 1992 law that authorized granting temporary protection to certain categories of Bosnians for up to two years. At the end of the two-year period, the Bosnians' asylum applications would be considered under the normal procedure. In December 1994, Denmark began processing the asylum applications of Bosnians who had already benefitted from two years of temporary protection.

Under the 1995 legislation, Bosnians whose applications are rejected in the second instance are granted an additional two years of temporary residence, after which they can become permanent residents. Even those whose asylum applications are rejected will be entitled to social benefits and the right to work. Bosnians who do not wish to apply for asylum will be able to extend their temporary residence until it becomes possible for them to repatriate. At the end of 1996, the cases of approximately 1,000 Bosnians remained undecided in the first instance.

In April 1996, parliament adopted an amendment to the law on temporary residence permits for persons from the former Yugoslavia. The amendment created a legal basis for establishing a quota for the number of former Yugoslavs who may be granted residence permits in Denmark. An initial quota of 400 persons per year was set. That quota is to operate on a trial basis until May 1, 1997.

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