Yes, I am writing about Denmark again. But this is a case that I want people to know about. It is the case of a man, who has to sleep in a camp. Who is not allowed to work. Who gets DKK 7.90 to live of per day. Who is not allowed to marry. And today a court determined, that all of this is legal.
But let us start at the beginning. Until 2008, it was the law that if a foreigner had commited a certain crime or if they were denied residence permission, they had to return to their home country ““ unless, they were in risking being killed or tortured upon their return. In that case, they were allowed to stay in Denmark on exceptional leave to remain.
So, what happened in 2008? On 12th February, 3 men were arrested on suspicion of planning to kill Kurt Westergaard (one of the artists behind the infamous Muhammad drawings). One was a Moroccan Dane and the case against him was dropped on 9th July. The two others were Tunisian citizens. These two were then expelled from Denmark by the Integration Ministry ““ based on “secret evidence”. Neither the accused nor their lawyers were allowed to see this evidence, only the Integration Minister and Justice Minister saw it. The court in Copenhagen then allows the imprisonment of these two men until their deportation. The next higher court confirms this on 21st February.
On 2nd July, the Surpreme Court then decides that the case has to go back to court, because the accused were not treated correctly and that more evidence will have to be presented. This happened on 14th July (court in Copenhagen) and 25th July (next higher one again). The Danish Security and Intelligence Service presented more “secret evidence” and everything was still the same. The two accused were in prison and awaiting their deportation.
Still there? Yes, this actually happened.
On 20th October, it was decided that the two men cannot be deported to Tunesia, as there was a high risk of torture for them there. Therefore they were released from prison and were allowed to stay in Denmark on exceptional leave to remain. One of the two men then decided to leave Denmark, but the two men’s case continued in the Danish Surpreme Court.
While this one man was allowed to stay in Denmark on exceptional leave to remain, he stayed with his family in Aarhus but had to meet the police at the Sandholm Camp (northern Zealand ““ basically on the other side of Denmark) every week. This Camp was officially also the place where he lived.
On 9th November, the Danish paper B.T. reported in a story about this Tunesian man that he lived in Aarhus ““ only 10min away from Westergaard. Westergaard was quoted of being afraid of running into the man, who planned to kill him. And the right-wing Danish People’s Party now wants a new law.
On 19th November it was found, that the imprisonment for 8 months of the one man (the one, who had left the country) was legal, as he had been a threat. However, the imprisonment of the other man was not correct, as there was a lack of evidence.
All this happened to take place during the negotiations of a new financial law ““ and mow the Danish People’s Party said that they only will vote for the government’s plans, if the law for people on exceptional leave to remain was tightened. So it happened. On 13th November, the new law was presented to the parliament. On 19th December, it was official.
Let me summarise: The Danish Security and Intelligence Service arrests two people, presents “secret evidence” and the Integration Minister decides to kick them out of the country. Then they are imprisoned while awaiting their deportation. None of the men was ever charged with planning an attack on Westergaard. And no court ever took up that question. The case in the courts was only about whether the imprisonment while waiting for deportation was legal. Which it was not. So no-one actually knew, whether these two men were guilty of the crimes they were accused of.
But Denmark got a new law. The 18 people, who remained in Denmark, because deportation was not possible now have to follow now new rules. Which brings me to the present. One of the 18 people is Elias Karkavandi, an Iranian citizen. He lost his residence permit, after having been convicted for his role in the hash trade in Christiania where he acted as a so-called hash guard. But it was decided, that it was unsafe to send him back to Iran. So after being released from prison, and according to the new law from 2008, he has to sleep every night at Sandholm Camp, has to meet with the police three times a week, gets DKK 7.90 per day, is not allowed to work. Or to get married.
This is why Karkavandi went to court. I do not think, that I have to explain why he argues that his treatment is illegal. As DR (Danish version of the BBC) puts it: “Karkavandi’s lawyer pointed out that Karkavandi is practically imprisoned and that his exceptional leave to remain in the Sandholm Camp will only end, were the clerical rule in Tehran to retire or change its attitude towards nonconformists like the Christian Karkavandi.”
Today, the court announced its decision: The treatment of Karkavandi is legal and not against the human rights. However, I hope he goes further. Because, yes, he is a convicted criminal. But he also has received his punishment. And still the Danish state finds it correct to continue his punishment. To be honest, I just do not have any words for this.
By the way, on 20th December last year, it was found that the initial decision to deport the Tunesian man, who was accused of planning to kill Kurt Westergaard, was incorrect, just like his imprisonment. It was also found that there was not enough evidence in the case.