The Danish government takes another measure to tighten on non-Western residents, targetting immigrant neighbourhoods, a move denounced by human rights groups and violates basic human rights of equality and nondiscrimination.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International sounded that alarm over the Danish laws on “ghettos”, saying that they affect “non-Western” residents.
Although the Minister of Interior in Denmark proposed plans to remove the word “ghetto” from the plan, there are no set dates for voting on the bill.
The Danish Institute for Human Rights also denounced the bills. “Our concern is that the ethnicity criteria has a more sharpened focus on it than before,” said Nanna Margrethe Kusaa, senior legal adviser at the Danish Institute.
“We are very concerned about this issue and following it closely because it raises red flags whenever ethnicity is listed as a criterion,” she adds.
“The effect is that ‘non-Western’ disproportionately means Denmark’s non-white, non-European ethnic populations,” warned the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.
Kusaa said that the Danish Institute for Human Rights has intervened in at least three court cases that are pending now in Denmark over the effect of the “ghetto” bill.
“It’s our opinion that there is a strong risk of discrimination occurring in these cases, which we think is linked to the ‘ghetto’ criteria,” Kusaa says, potentially violating national and EU laws. The lawsuits in Denmark are ongoing.
The Ministry of Interior and Housing claims that this classification of “non-Western” comes in line with the central authority on statistics in the country. But, according to experts, only Muslims and people of colour will be stigmatized and affected by the law. “The current “ghetto” legislation and latest proposals are counterproductive,” said Ozlem Cekic, a Muslim elected member to the Danish Parliament.
“I agree with the government that there are some very big problems in some communities. I accept that. But the difference is that the problem here is not so big that we need to move people out of their houses.”
According to the University of Copenhagen, citing Statistics Denmark figures from 2020, only 5.3% of migrants from “non-Western countries” live in so-called ghetto areas.
A Cekic, a Kurdish resident in Denmark, said, “It is not only created to hit Muslim groups and immigrant groups but the working class, too. A lot of people living in the ‘ghettos,’ they don’t have the economic stability.”
Denmark has been following very tight measures against asylum seekers and refugees, unlike many other European countries. These measures were paralleled, or translated, with waves of racism and discrimination on both the popular and political parties levels.
Not only did the right-wing radicals tighten up on the citizens, but also the centre-lift did. When the Social Democrats were defeated in the last elections, they took it upon themselves to adopt tougher policies against immigrants.