Press TV / January 26, 2016
Denmark’s parliament is set to vote on a controversial proposal to confiscate refugees’ valuables to help cover their accommodation costs in the country.
The bill, which is the latest attempt by the center-right government of Denmark to curb the influx of asylum seekers into the country, is expected to pass on Tuesday as major political parties have endorsed it.
The contentious proposal has already been revised amid widespread criticism at home and abroad when it was announced earlier this month.
The bill allows police to seize valuables worth more than DKK 10,000 (about USD 1,450) from asylum seekers to help cover their housing and food costs while their cases were being processed.
It also includes measures such as delaying family reunification to at least three years.
The issue was discussed on Monday at the European Parliament, where Denmark’s Integration Minister Inger Stojberg said no items deemed sentimental would be taken.
The United Nations Refugee Agency, also known as the UNHCR, has warned that the proposal violates the UN Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Denmark, which took in 20,000 refugees last year, is not the first European country to demand the assets of asylum seekers.
Earlier this month, Switzerland faced criticism for seizing assets from about 100 people in 2015. Under Swiss regulations, asylum seekers have to hand over assets above USD 1,000.
In another relevant development on Tuesday, the Czech prime minister said he has invited leaders of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to a special summit on the refugee crisis next month.
“The Czech Republic will call an extraordinary summit of the Visegrad-four countries for February 15,” Bohuslav Sobotka said in a message posted on Twitter.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees who are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in those regions, forcing more people out of their homes.
More than one million refugees have reached Europe’s shores in 2015, while over 3,700 people either died or have gone missing in their perilous journey to the continent, according to figures released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).