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General

Justice Ministry criticised for deporting ill people

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October 1st, 2013


This article is more than 10 years old.

At least two cases involving sick people being deported to countries where their medication is not accessible has aid organisations up in arms

The Justice Ministry has come under fire after it was revealed that it has been expelling ill people on flimsy grounds.

At least two cases have surfaced within the last week in which the ministry has sent people home to countries where they cannot obtain the medicine they need.

Information newspaper revealed today that a Ugandan woman, Sara, has been denied an extension to her humanitarian stay in Denmark, despite the Justice Ministry writing in its denial letter that the HIV medicine she needs to survive is not accessible via the public health system in Uganda. Instead, the ministry urged Sara to get the medicine through “private actors”.

Couldn't get his meds in Kosovo
Sara’s case follows in the wake of revelations on DR News's programme '21 Søndag' that a 15-year-old boy, Remzi Baftijari, was recently deported back to Kosovo after the Justice Ministry argued that the anti-psychotic medicine that Baftijari needed was accessible there. '21 Søndag' found however that the medicine was only obtainable in Kosovo through illegal channels.

Eva Singer, the head of the asylum aid organisation Dansk Flygtningehjælp, finds it problematic that the government does not properly look into the accessibility of medicine before sending ill people out of the country.

“They only consider the theoretical possibility of access to treatment in the home country, but they don’t look into whether the individual is realistically able to gain access,” Singer told Information.

Enhedslisten demands explanation 
Far-left party Enhedslisten (EL) has demanded an explanation from the Justice Ministry about how it investigates whether sick people who are expelled from Denmark can acquire the medicine they need.

”Can we even trust the evaluations of the Justice Ministry?” Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen, the head of EL, asked DR Nyheder. “It raises some dangerous questions about the entire process. What about all of the other deportations and rejections that are made based on information that the Justice Ministry claims that it has concerning the accessibility of medicine?”

The outcry has prompted the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), to promise to look into the issue immediately.

“This is news to me [that Baftijari cannot get his needed medication in Kosovo]," Bødskov told DR Nyheder. "The information means that I will immediately ask the Foreign Ministry to look into whether treatment is actually available in Kosovo. We obviously cannot ignore that kind of information.”

Law changed in 2010
Before 2010, ill asylum seekers were only sent out of the country if they were able to pay for the medicine back home and could get the same medicine as in Denmark.

But the previous government, led by Venstre, Dansk Folkeparti and Konservative, changed the law so that people can be sent back as long as the medicine and treatment are accessible in the home country. Whether they can pay for it is no longer a concern.


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