News in Digest: Australia, Devil’s Island, Alcatraz … Lindholm

Denmark the latest country to dabble in prisons on islands and overseas

For many years the idea has mostly remained in the realm of science fiction: sling all of society’s undesirables onto an island and let them sort it out. It was more or less the plot of ‘No Escape’, a really bad Ray Liotta film in 1994.

So it was no surprise to see Britain’s right-wing brigade – most notably the Telegraph, Sun and Daily Mail – jump on the story that Denmark’s 2019 budget agreement includes plans for a deserted island to house convicted foreigners and rejected asylum-seekers.

“BANISHED! Denmark to send foreign criminals to live on a deserted island,” screamed the Sun’s headline – one of many to conveniently leave off the part about the rejected asylum-seekers.

Replacing the cattle
The 17-acre island of Lindholm is situated in Stege Bay around 2.5 km off the coast of south Zealand near the island of Møn. It is currently being used by the DTU Veterinary Institute as a quarantined area to test against viruses that affect cattle and pigs.

The island was among the measures needed to gain the support of Dansk Folkeparti for the budget, which includes a further tightening of immigration policy – most particularly switching the focus from integration to repatriation.

According to Kristian Jensen, the finance minister, the island will not serve as a prison, as its new residents will be able to visit the mainland during the day. It will replace a system that required the group to regularly report to the Kærshovedgård centre near Herning in mid Jutland.

Lithuanian interest
It has also been revealed that Denmark is in negotiations with Lithuania regarding the construction of a prison outside its capital Vilnius, which could house all of Denmark’s deported foreign criminals, but not necessarily meet normal Danish prison standards.

The 2019 Budget Agreement states: “As soon as possible, and by the end of 2019 at the latest, an agreement must be reached with a partner country concerning the establishment of Danish prison space abroad, so expelled criminals can serve their sentences there instead of burdening the Danish prison system and society.”

The persisting negotiations are locked in on what exactly Denmark must give up in return for dispatching the foreign criminals to the Baltic country. Lithuania has reportedly expressed “considerable interest” in the plan.

DF has long campaigned for Denmark to purchase or lease a prison in eastern Europe, and parliamentary delegations visited prisons in Lithuania and Romania last year.

Twit tweets tripe
Opinion is divided on the island proposals, with Venstre’s business spokesperson, Torsten Schack Pedersen, among those to comment on the Lindholm plan, reports TV2. And he royally put his foot in it.

Under a photo of a plate bulging with traditional cuts of pork, Pedersen tweeted: “Incredible Christmas lunch fare – a safe bet to say it’s a long way from what they’ll be getting on Lindholm.”

A number of his colleagues found the post distasteful, with PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen himself wading into the fray, tweeting: “In my view, people can eat what they like. That’s not important. What is important is whether people want to respect the fundamental values in Denmark: freedom, liberalism, equality, and civil law over religious law.”

Elderly and animals
In related news, more details of the 2019 budget have been released affecting the elderly and animal welfare – two other areas prioritised by DF in its negotiations with the government parties.

Some 400 million kroner has been set aside to tackle loneliness among the elderly, 210 million to their nourishment, and 45 million to the recruitment and safety of careworkers.

While 38 million kroner has been earmarked for setting up a taskforce to take action in cases of cruelty to animals. (CPH Post)

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