The Danish Parliament recently passed a controversial amendment to the Aliens Act (Bill no. 87) giving police the power to search and confiscate the property of asylum seekers to contribute to expenses associated with their stay in Denmark (BBC). First proposed on 10 December 2015, the bill quickly made international headlines (BBC, Washington Post).
Although the confiscation of asylum seekers’ assets probably violates several human rights, so far the implementation of similar laws in other countries does not seem to have lead to complaints before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This post provides a short analysis of the recent amendment to the Danish Aliens Act, focusing on its implications under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Bill No. 87
Bill no. 87 had its first reading in the Danish Parliament on 13 January 2016. It was rapidly passed into law with a sizable majority (81/27) on 26 January 2016. The bill amends the Danish Aliens Act (Udlændingeloven), bestowing new powers upon the police concerning the seizing of assets of asylum seekers. Even before the amendment, the Aliens Act already stated that asylum seekers could be required to contribute to expenses associated with their stay. The law, however, only allowed asylum seekers to be charged for 90 days and, to our knowledge, it was never enforced. Danish police also had the power to search asylum seekers, in order to find items or documents that could be of importance when processing asylum claims. But Danish police were not allowed to confiscate valuables during such searches. The recent amendment to the law has bestowed this power upon the police and removed existing time limitations.