Justice minister accused of lying over deportation law

A letter to the European Commission from the justice minister contradicts statements made to parliament over effect of changing deportation law

(photo: Stephen Wright)
April 27th, 2012 12:58 pm| by admin
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The justice minister, Morten Bødskov, has been accused of lying to parliament – and the Danish public – over the effect of changing the law regarding the deportation of foreign criminals.

Earlier this year, Bødskov told Jyllands-Posten newspaper that he would be changing the wording of the law that was passed by the former government last summer with support from current government leader Socialdemokraterne.

The law change meant that foreign criminals must be deported unless the deportation would contravene international conventions “with certainty”.

At the time, he said that removing the words was "purely symbolic" and would not alter the conditions under which a criminal is deported.

But in a letter responding to the European Commission's concerns over the law this January, Bødskov wrote that the government would be amending it.

“This would, inter alia, imply that the existing wording ‘with certainty’ would be deleted in order to provide an enhanced protection from expulsion," Bødskov wrote in the previously secret letter that was first published by Information newspaper.

MP Søren Pind, from opposition party Venstre, argues that the letter demonstrates that Bødskov has lied to the Danish people.

“On the one hand, Socialdemokraterne are telling the population that they intend to continue the hard line toward criminal foreigners, but to a progressive European commissioner, they talk about improving the legal security [of criminal foreigners],” Pind told Information newspaper.

Pind added that Bødskov had also lied to parliament. When Bødskov revealed he was going to remove the wording from the law, Karsten Lauritzen from Venstre asked why the government was “going to make it harder to deport criminal foreigners”.

Bødskov replied: “The considerable tightening of the law meant that the deportation of foreigners who have committed criminal acts, can only be avoided if violates Denmark’s international duties. This tightening will remain with the government’s proposal.”

In a written comment to Jyllands-Posten, Bødskov added that the changing of the law was merely to make Denmark’s position more clear on the deportation of criminal foreigners.

“There was some technical uncertainty and the EU Commission has pointed it out to Denmark. That is why we are making a change that underlines that it is the courts who determine who should be deported,” Bødskov explained, adding that removing the words would not change anything in practise.

“The government’s position is clear. We are keeping the same strict line for deporting criminal foreigners. Those people who are to be deported today will also be deported tomorrow when the rules are more precise.”

Pind is not convinced however.

“How can 'in order to provide an enhanced protection from expulsion' mean no enhanced protection from expulsion?” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

(photo: Stephen Wright)
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