July 27, 2020 | News | No Comments
A plan to double the penalties for offences committed in deprived “ghetto” neighbourhoods of Danish cities provoked outrage among human rights activists on Tuesday.
The centre-Right government is expected to unveil more details of its plan to impose more severe punishments in deprived areas, which have high immigrant populations, where it says lawlessness risks creating “parallel societies”, on Thursday.
Søren Pape Poulsen, the justice minister, told the Berlingske newspaper: “In these areas, it is clear that the sword of justice will fall more heavily” than elsewhere. Muggers and vandals in such neighbourhoods are likely to see their sentences or fines doubled, he said.
The government publishes a list of “ghetto areas”, defined as deprived neighbourhoods with populations of more than 1,000. The latest list, which came out in December, includes 22 districts.
The latest proposal is part of a government drive to eliminate ghettos by 2030, prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said.
Police chiefs in these areas would be given discretionary powers to enforce “double punishment”, Danish media reported.
Denmark’s crime rate is about half that of Britain.
The plan is likely to be backed by the second largest party, the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, which also supports a government proposal to ban the Islamic full-face veil.
However, human rights campaigners said everyone should be subject to the same penalties and the plan was an affront to democratic values.
Brigitte Arent Eiriksson of the Justitia think tank said: “Where there is rule of law, it is very, very important that everyone is equal before the law. But I find it difficult to see how that could be the case with this proposal.”
Keld Albrechtsen, the head of an NGO that works in deprived areas, said the plan would penalise “youngsters who are on a path to delinquency… I don’t think what they need is more repression,” he told the BT newspaper. “They need someone to help them get out.”
Mr Rasmussen, the prime minister, said the behaviour of immigrants differed from that of the “average Dane” in many respects, “in meeting their own needs, their level of education, their command of language, their values.”
About 10 per cent of Denmark’s 5.6 million population are immigrants.
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