Personal freedoms under attack in Denmark, human rights group warns

A new report has highlighted a number of areas where Danish citizens’ rights have been significantly weakened over the last few years

Traditionally, Denmark has always prided itself on being a liberal and enlightened country where all people are treated fairly.

But a new report published today by the Danish institute for human rights, Institut for Menneskerettigheder, has revealed there have been a number of serious inroads into personal freedom over the last few years.

Micro managing clothing
Amongst the ones mentioned in the report are the so-called ‘burqa laws’ banning garments that cover the face, terms of imprisonment imposed for begging, zone restrictions for gang members, fines or imprisonment for homeless people deemed to be living in illegal camps and a record high number of people in preventive detention.

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There has also been an increase in the amount of data that the police can access and collate on a person without necessarily obtaining a warrant, and most recently the revelations regarding the easing of requirements for the intelligence services to delete unnecessary personal data collected on individuals.

A slippery slope
“There might be good reasons to restrict individual rights for certain groups of citizens. This could be to increase security in society in general,” said Louise Holck, the deputy leader of the institute.

“However, I can’t remember the last time I experienced so many examples of fundamental freedoms being set aside in the way we’ve seen over the last few years.”

Holck added that there is a general tendency for an increasing number of parliamentary bills being proposed that challenge fundamental freedoms – and that is an extremely worrying trend.

“It’s about time that we gave our fundamental freedoms a shot in the arm. We need legislation that strengthens – and not weakens – the rights and freedoms of Danes,” averred Holck.

All within the law
Politiken questioned the minister of justice, Søren Pape Poulsen, on the findings of the report.

“Over the last few years we’ve had a series of problems with camps full of foreign travellers that have created insecurity, begging in the streets and criminal gang shooting on our streets,” he said in a written answer to the newspaper.

“The government acted responsibly and set in motion a number of legal measures. The hallmark of all these measures is that of course they keep within the boundaries of Denmark’s international responsibilities.”