The Danish parliament has passed controversial laws overnight, meaning asylum seekers in Denmark will be forced to hand over cash and valuables worth more than $2,000.
According to a report by the ABC, the reforms are aimed at dissuading refugees and migrants from seeking asylum. Three-year delays in family unification will also be a part of the measures to dissuade asylum seekers from heading to Denmark, a move Amnesty International described as ‘cruel’ and said could have a ‘devastating impact on families’.
The laws have been heavily criticised worldwide as reminiscent of the Nazi-era police of taking valuables from Jews.
“It's wrong to take away from people who have already lost so much and suffered so much the few belongings that they have managed to rescue, and also to discriminate against them by not allowing them to be reunited with their families,” said United Nations Refugee Agency spokesperson William Spindler in response to the new laws.
But the government insists it’s a necessary move to stem the flow of asylum seekers, and defended the move by saying that Danes applying for social benefits may also have to sell their valuables.
The bill was presented by the right-wing minority government and was approved by 81 of the 109 MPs present. Members of the opposition Social Democrats backed the laws, the ABC reported.
“There's no simple answer for a single country, but until the world comes together on a joint solution [to the migrant crisis], Denmark needs to act,” MP Jakob Ellemann-Jensen of Rasmussen's Venstre party said during the debate.
Sweden has taken five times the number of asylum seekers that Denmark has over the past year.
“To those saying what we are doing is wrong, my question is: What is your alternative?,” said Social Democrat MP Dan Jorgensen.
“The alternative is that we continue to be [one of] the most attractive countries in Europe to come to, and then we end up like Sweden.”