Denmark accused of absurd double standards in Africa

Reactions to corruption and anti-gay bills in African countries are two-faced, say experts

July 25th, 2014 2:51 pm| by admin
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When Uganda earlier this year signed an anti-homosexuality law criminalising same-sex relations, it lead Denmark to impose sanctions and rearrange development aid to the African nation.

But there were no consequences when Nigeria passed a similar law. In two weeks time, Denmark will open an embassy there.

READ MORE: Gay minister braves lion's den to get Ugandan assurances about homophobic law

Absurd behaviour
Stig Jensen, the head of the centre for African studies at the University of Copenhagen, told Jyllands-Posten that he found Denmark guilty of practising double standard in Africa.

"From an African perspective, our behaviour seems absurdly two-faced," he said, adding that there was no Danish reaction either, when a court in Egypt this year sentenced hundreds of supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to death.

"There's no problem in limiting the rights of homosexuals as long as the West can get jobs. But it's a major concern if aid money is at stake."

Media controls aid money
Economy professor Christian Bjørnskov of Aarhus University agreed.

"We are guilty of double standards. A lot happens if a case turns up in the media, but no-one bothers if the media don't report on it. It's largely the media that really control Denmark's aid of more than 16 billion kroner a year," Bjørnskov said.

"We claim we don't support corrupt regimes but the country that gets most of our aid money, Tanzania, still struggles with massive corruption, without worrying either Danida or politicians."

READ MORE: African advocates ignore the elephant in the room, says expert

Foreign Ministry denies
Development and trade minister Mogens Jensen rejected the accusations.

"Denmark's aid builds upon clear stances and clear values. That's why we redirected some of our aid to non-governmental organisations after the Ugandan law was passed. It's a matter of respect and human rights – which I don't see as a distinctly western value – but something Uganda itself has signed that it would respect."

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