Liberal in name but not by game

Liberal Alliance’s new immigration suggestion has been lambasted for being in breach of human rights conventions

Liberal Alliance (LA) is dealing with a barrage of criticism today after its new integration spokesperson Simon Emil Ammitzbøll yesterday suggested tougher consequences for immigrant criminals staying in Denmark.

Ammitzbøll’s pitch at LA’s summer meeting in Vejle comes on the heels of the relaxation of the immigration laws. It focused on the expulsion of criminals from Denmark and included three main suggestions: temporary residence permit holders should be deported if they commit crimes, permanent residency holders should be expelled if they commit crimes that endanger people or if they are repeat offenders; and it must not be possible to obtain citizenship if one commits a crime in Denmark.

“If you come to Denmark to commit crime then you’re not welcome. We want people that contribute and not those that come to live on benefits and to commit crime,” Ammitzbøll said according to Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “Immigration policy must be on equal terms with the rest of politics. If you behave well, you are rewarded, but if not, then you have opted out of Danish society. It’s about personal responsibility.”

With the proposal, the party has changed its tune since spouting from the rubble of the former Ny Alliance party in 2008. From once endorsing a gentle view on immigration in an attempt to challenge Dansk Folkeparti, LA has now embarked upon a less moderate path in the immigration debate.

Today the law states that expulsions only occur based on individually assessed cases and in correlation to how long the foreigner has resided in Denmark.

And LA’s proposal has already generated plenty of responses, with Radikale calling it “unreasonable” as well as being in direct breach of international human rights conventions.

“It is my opinion that we can’t tighten the rules this way without breaching conventions,” said Zenia Stampe, the integration spokesperson for De Radikale. “So these suggestions are ludicrous. Either Liberal Alliance doesn’t know the law, or else they don’t want to explain the ramifications that these proposals could produce.”

Jonas Christoffersen, the head of human rights advocacy group Institut for Menneskerettigheder, contended that the proposals could breach conventions as the current laws concerning crime-related expulsion already push the convention limits.

“As it stands, there is already a possibility to expel people for criminal acts and that is only curtailed because of international human rights," Christoffersen told Jyllands-Posten. “The central question is whether Liberal Alliance wants to operate within or outside the frame of international human rights.”

Ammitzbøll referred to crime statistics that indicate that foreigners are vastly overrepresented in comparison to Danes, but emphasised that minor traffic violations are not enough to get deported, but murder, rape and violence are.