Head of state:Queen Margrethe II
Head of government:Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 5.5 million
Life expectancy:78.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f):6/6 per 1,000
Counter-terrorism legislation continued to give rise to concern. Forced returns contrary to international guidelines, including to Iraq, continued. Women were not adequately protected against violence in legislation or practice.
Counter-terror and security
Counter-terrorism legislation continued to impact on human rights. Judicial control of police access to private and confidential information was weak (for example, intercepting telephone and computer communications) and proceedings by which deportations and expulsions on national security grounds could be challenged remained unfair.
In September, the government published a review of counter-terrorism legislation adopted since 2001. The review was criticized for its lack of thoroughness and for failing to include the views of different stakeholders. Based on statements by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Police and the Police Security and Intelligence Service exclusively, the review concluded that the increased powers given to the latter had enhanced terrorism prevention.
In December, the Eastern High Court annulled an order to expel a Tunisian citizen, Slim Chafra, on the grounds that he was considered a threat to national security. The Court found that Slim Chafra had not been able to effectively challenge the decision to expel him, because it was based primarily on secret material, presented in closed hearings, which he and his lawyers did not have access to. Consequently, he had not had fair or reasonable means of defending himself.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In November, a local court ruled that the extradition of Niels Holck, a Danish national, to India could not proceed after determining that diplomatic assurances negotiated between the Danish and Indian government did not offer sufficient protection against the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The government appealed the case, which at the end of the year remained pending at the High Court.
In December, the Copenhagen Municipal Court ruled that the mass pre-emptive arrests of 250 people during the 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen were unlawful, and furthermore that the circumstances under which the arrests took place in 178 of those cases constituted degrading treatment, in violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The problem of minors on remand being detained in the same facilities as adult inmates persisted.
Refugees and asylum seekers
In May, the government amended its policy regarding transfers of asylum-seekers to Greece under the Dublin II Regulation. Despite the lack of protection under the current Greek asylum determination procedure, the government announced that it would no longer wait for Greece to explicitly accept responsibility for a case before transfer. The European Court of Human Rights granted interim measures halting transfer in at least 304 cases, and effectively prevented the majority of transfers taking place. However, the Danish Minister of Refugees, Immigration and Integration did not declare a halt of all Dublin transfers to Greece. By the end of the year 20 people had been transferred to Greece under the Regulation.
Despite recommendations from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, at least 62 Iraqis were returned to Baghdad, Iraq, despite the real risk of persecution or serious harm.
Violence against women
Legislation did not adequately protect women against sexual violence. An expert committee, commissioned by the government in 2009 to examine existing legislation on rape had not yet submitted its findings by the end of the year. For example, legislation provides that if the perpetrator enters into or continues a marriage or registered partnership with the victim after the rape, it gives grounds for reducing or remitting the punishment.
On average only 20 per cent of reported rapes result in a conviction, the majority of cases are closed by the police or prosecution and are never brought to trial, leading to a high risk of impunity for perpetrators.
In August, the CERD Committee called on the government to provide adequate shelter for Roma and Travellers in the country, facilitate their access to public services and provide effective protection against discrimination and hate crimes.
The Committee also reported that the introduction in May of a new point-based system for individuals seeking permanent residence introduced “onerous and stringent requirements” that may unfairly exclude vulnerable individuals.