Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2017, 08:57 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Denmark

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 January 1998
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Denmark, 1 January 1998, available at: [accessed 22 November 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.

At the end of 1997, Denmark hosted nearly 13,000 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. These included an estimated 4,000 persons with pending asylum applications, 7,108 asylum applicants who received refugee status, some 1,352 Bosnians with temporary protection, and 502 persons resettled in Denmark as refugees in 1997.

During the year, asylum applicants in Denmark filed cases representing 5,100 persons, a 13 percent decrease from the 5,896 applicants in 1996. The largest groups of asylum applicants were from Somalia (1,164 persons), Iraq (831), the former Yugoslavia excluding Bosnia (408), Afghanistan (254), Bosnia and Hercegovina (220), and stateless Palestinians (394). Some 22,773 Bosnians remained in Denmark at year's end, 1,352 of whom had temporary residence permits.

During 1997, the Danish Immigration Service granted Convention refugee status to 883 of the 7,108 persons whose cases it decided, an approval rate of 12.4 percent. The Immigration Service granted de facto refugee status to 3,015 persons, 42.2 percent of the total, and rejected the applications of 3,210 persons, 45.2 percent of the total.

During the year, the Immigration Service and Refugee Appeals Board looked most favorably upon the applications of stateless Palestinians, granting Convention refugee status to 543 in first- and second-instance cases, an approval rate of 54.3 percent.

The Immigration Service and Refugee Appeals Board granted Convention refugee status to 112 applicants from Bosnia, 85 from Iraq, and 79 from Afghanistan.

Each year, Denmark resettles approximately 500 "quota" refugees identified by UNHCR. During 1997, persons from Iraq and Iran made up about 89 percent of the 502 refugees resettled.

Asylum Procedure Denmark grants Convention refugee status and de facto refugee status to a variety of applicants, including spontaneous asylum seekers, quota refugees identified by UNHCR, persons who have applied for asylum at Danish embassies abroad, persons seeking reunification with families in Denmark, and children born to foreigners in Denmark.

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 Convention refugee status or de facto refugee status, the latter for applicants who do not meet the UN Refugee Convention criteria but who "ought not to be required to return" to the country of origin.

Applicants rejected under the normal procedure may appeal to the Refugee Appeals Board, an independent body. Rejected appellants may apply to the Ministry of the Interior for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. Such applications must be made within the immediate post-rejection period, usually ten days. As of January 1, 1997, appellants who feel their cases were dealt with improperly may no longer petition the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

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 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 1997, the Immigration Service rejected 815 applications under the manifestly unfounded procedure. Asylum seekers placed in this procedure were primarily from the former Yugoslavia (246), Sri Lanka (72), Vietnam (51), Pakistan (31), and stateless Palestinians (40). In 25 percent of these cases, the Danish Refugee Council vetoed the manifestly unfounded rulings, giving the applicants the right to appeal their rejections.

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 come from a "safe" third country. They may detain such persons at the border and, on the advice of the Immigration Service, return them to the country through which they traveled. Asylum seekers can appeal such rulings to the Ministry of the Interior, but appeals do not suspend deportation.

During 1997, Denmark rejected and returned 846 persons to another country on safe third country grounds, including 153 returned under the Dublin Convention (discussed below).

In December 1996, Denmark became a full member of the Schengen group of European Union countries. The Dublin Convention became effective in Denmark on September 1, 1997. Both the Schengen Convention and the Dublin Convention outline responsibilities for adjudicating asylum claims for applicants who arrive in the countries covered by the agreement or convention.

From the period of the Dublin Convention's enactment through the end of the year, Denmark requested that 193 applications for asylum be transferred to other Dublin states, of which those states accepted 153 (79.3 percent). During the same period, Denmark received 36 requests for readmission into Denmark from other Dublin states, of which it accepted 25 (69.4 percent).

In 1997, the Aliens Act was amended by several provisions. In April, the Danish parliament adopted an amendment providing legal basis for Denmark's implementation of the Schengen Convention. In June, a series of amendments passed, including one imposing restrictions of the rules relating to family reunification by requiring DNA testing to substantiate family connections.

Another amendment in June focused on rejected asylum seekers and other immigrants who do not act on removal proceedings.

Under the new measures, described by the government as "motivating measures," rejected asylum seekers who have received their final deportation order and do not leave Denmark may lose the right to supplementary social support, except for food, accommodation, and access to essential health care. They may also be required to report regularly with the police. The Danish Immigration Service reported that they would withdraw social assistance to such people only after assessing each case individually.

In the first three months after the introduction of these measures, the Immigration Service ordered 112 foreigners to report to the police and withdrew social assistance to 60 others. Denmark deported 1,453 rejected asylum seekers during the year.

On December 4, Denmark's interior minister announced proposals for a new "integration law" and amendments to the Aliens Act. The proposed integration law includes a 20 percent reduction in monthly subsistence allowances for refugees. The draft amendments to the Aliens Act include further restrictions on family reunification and increased conditionality of residence permits. The proposals were scheduled to be adopted in March 1998.

Former Yugoslavs According to UNHCR, 22,773 Bosnian refugees remained in Denmark under various statuses at the end of 1997, some 1,352 of whom lacked a durable solution. The Danish Immigration Service issued nearly 900 Bosnians temporary residence permits in 1997.

In January 1995, Denmark's parliament passed a bill that authorized providing Bosnians the same legal rights as refugees, regardless of their asylum status.

Previous legislation on former Yugoslavs included a 1992 law that authorized granting temporary protection to certain categories of Bosnians for up to two years, when their applications would be considered under the normal procedure. Under a 1995 law, 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.

A 1996 amendment to the law on temporary residence permits for persons from the former Yugoslavia created a legal basis for establishing a quota for the number of former Yugoslavs who may be granted residence permits in Denmark. During its existence from April 1996 to mid-1997, only ten persons from the former Yugoslavia were granted residence permits under the terms of the quota.

Also in 1996, Denmark's parliament amended the Aliens Act concerning rejected asylum seekers from the present Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) who could not yet be returned, primarily due to restrictions on return imposed by Yugoslav authorities. Under that amendment, rejected asylum seekers from Yugoslavia may be granted residence permits for up to two years, provided they submitted their applications for asylum prior to October 11, 1995. The permits may be withdrawn if repatriation becomes possible within the two-year period. About 1,800 persons received permits under the measure.

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