Denmark
Head of state
Queen Margrethe II
Head of government
Helle Thorning-Schmidt (replaced Lars Løkke Rasmussen in October)
Death penalty
abolitionist for all crimes
Population
5.6 million
Life expectancy
78.8 years
Under-5 mortality
4 per 1,000

A new investigation into the use of Denmark’s territory for rendition flights conducted by the CIA was announced, although it lacked sufficient powers and was severely limited in its scope. Immigration detention practices gave rise to concern as vulnerable people continued to be detained. Women were denied equal and effective protection against violence in law.

Counter-terror and security

In February, a hearing was conducted into the government review of counter-terrorism legislation in the previous year, following concerns that the review had been inadequate and insufficiently thorough.

On 2 November, the government announced that the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) would investigate the use of its territory for rendition flights conducted by the CIA since 2001. The investigation, however, would be limited to flights involving Greenland and not all Danish territory. Furthermore, the DIIS would only be allowed to review documents from a previous Danish inquiry held in 2008, and investigators would not be allowed to compel witness testimony or request any new information. In light of these restrictions the investigation would not constitute an independent, impartial, thorough and effective investigation as required by international human rights law and standards.

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Torture and other ill-treatment

In June, the High Court upheld a previous ruling that Niels Holck could not be extradited to India, because diplomatic assurances negotiated between the Danish and Indian governments did not sufficiently protect him from risk of harm.

In November, the City Court in Copenhagen ruled that Qais J. Khaled (an Iraqi national) could sue the Danish authorities for damages for transferring him to Iraqi police custody in Basra in 2004, despite allegedly knowing there was a risk that he would be subject to torture or other ill-treatment.

In December, further information emerged indicating that at least 500 Iraqi nationals may have been handed over to Iraqi authorities in similar circumstances. Concerns were also raised that information confirming that the Danish army was aware of the risk of torture that would be faced by those transferred to the Iraqi authorities was withheld from parliament.

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Refugees and asylum-seekers

Policies towards refugees and asylum-seekers continued to give rise to concern.

In January, transfers of asylum-seekers to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation were halted, following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which found that Greece did not operate an effective asylum system (see Greece entry). No efforts were made by the authorities to locate the 20 individuals who were transferred in 2010 to Greece under the Regulation.

At least 43 Iraqi nationals were forcibly returned to Baghdad, Iraq, contrary to guidelines from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency.

Vulnerable people – including victims of torture and human trafficking – continued to be detained for immigration purposes.

At the beginning of the year it emerged that 36 stateless Palestinian youths had been refused citizenship in contravention of the UN Convention which requires signatory states to grant citizenship to stateless children born in the territory of the state. Subsequent revelations indicated that up to 500 Palestinian youths had been misinformed and refused citizenship. As a consequence of the revelations, the Minister for Refugees, Immigration and Integration stepped down from her post. An independent committee was established to investigate and some of the individuals concerned began legal proceedings against the government for compensation.

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Violence against women and girls

Legislation did not provide equal and adequate protection for all victims of sexual violence. A number of crimes of sexual violence and abuse continued to be not punishable by law if the perpetrator and victim were married, such as non-consensual sex where the victim was in a helpless state due to illness or intoxication.

An expert committee, commissioned by the government in 2009 to examine existing legislation on rape, had still not submitted its findings by the end of the year. However, in May the government put forward proposals to increase prison sentences for rape committed by a stranger. Concerns were raised that these proposals would inappropriately reinforce the treatment of rape as a lesser crime where the victim and the perpetrator knew each other.

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Discrimination – Roma

In March, the Supreme Court found that the expulsion of two Romani men from Romania in 2010, on the basis of staying illegally in public parks and buildings, was unlawful. The decision to expel had been criticized by a number of politicians and members of civil society as being discriminatory. As a result of the Court’s decision the government annulled the expulsion orders of a further 14 Romanian Roma.

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