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Denmark confiscates cash from asylum seekers

June 30, 2016

Denmark's immigration minister has hailed a controversial migrant law after police confiscated money from Iranian nationals. But the Council of Europe has called on Copenhagen to "uphold refugee protection standards."

A sign that reads "Stop: Controls" at Danish-German border
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/L. Schulze

Danish police on Thursday announced they confiscated cash amounting to thousands of euros from five Iranian nationals, two men and three women between the ages of 26 and 35.

"The police in Copenhagen have seized around 79,699 kroner (10,700 euros, $11,900) from five foreigners who were trying to enter the country with fake identity papers," the police said in a statement.

Authorities at Copenhagen's airport late Tuesday arrested the Iranian nationals for using forged passports, national police spokesman Per Fiig said.

He added that the group had immediately applied for asylum upon arrival, which is under review by the Danish Immigration Service.

Tuesday's action is the first time authorities have used a controversial law allowing them to search and seize irregular migrants' valuables exceeding 10,000 kroner (1,350 euros, $1,500), including cash and jewelry. Wedding rings are exempted under the legislation.

"Danish police are every day attentive to asylum seekers and foreigners staying illegally who could have valuables that could help to finance the costs of their stay," Fiig said. "Now police have found valuables that can be seized."

Danish Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg said the case vindicated her decision to introduce the legislation, according to comments carried by the Ritzau news agency.

'Serious concerns'

The legislation has been criticized by several human rights organizations, including the Council of Europe and Amnesty International.

In January, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks wrote an open letter to Stojberg decrying the law.

"Restrictive changes to asylum and immigration law in Denmark raise serious concerns of conformity with human rights standards," Muiznieks said.

"The government should reconsider them and ensure that law and practice fully comply with Denmark's obligation to uphold refugee protection standards," he added.

ls/blc (AFP, dpa, AP)