International Round-Up: Denmark seeks to export its foreign criminals

Elsewhere, Denmark pledges more aid to Afghanistan and COVAX, while boosting military co-operation with the UK

According to the Justice Ministry, the government is looking to rent 300 prison spots in Kosovo for foreign prisoners who have been expelled as part of their convictions.

The plan is among the specifications of a new political agreement reached for the Kriminalforsorgen prison and probation services.

“We were set to be short by upwards of 1,000 spaces in Kriminalforsorgen in 2025, and I’m proud to say that the agreement will meet that challenge,” said the justice minister, Nick Hækkerup.

Among the parties to team up with the government were Konservative, Socialistisk Folkeparti and Dansk Folkeparti. 

READ ALSO: Government to establish deportation centre for foreign criminals on island

Too radical for Radikale
Radikale, which was kicked out of negotiations, expressed concern about shifting prisoners abroad.

“Kosovo’s prison system is criticised for corruption, violence between prisoners and poorly-educated staff,” said Samira Nawa, Radikale’s spokesperson for judicial matters.

“Norway used to have a very criticised agreement regarding renting prison space in the Netherlands. We’re on a slippery slope when Denmark doesn’t take responsibility for its own inmates.”

The agreement also encompasses a new prison for gang members, less use of punishment cells and better opportunities for inmates to keep in contact with their children.

Helping with NATO innovation
Denmark will take part in organising a new NATO innovation fund that will support start-ups and military tech solutions. The fund is part of NATO’s 2030 agenda, but also follows several of the government’s ambitions for Danish Defence. It is expected that the fund will invest 7.5 billion kroner over a 15-year period.

Denmark boosts defence co-operation with the UK
Denmark and the UK have signed a new declaration to strengthen relations within the scope of the military. Among the initiatives are rapid response forces, efforts in the Baltic region and host nation support. The two countries will also work to improve the British-led response force Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), which gathers northern European countries in a strong operative collective.

Danish aircraft to monitor English Channel for potential human trafficking
A Danish challenger aircraft will be dispatched to monitor the English Channel to help curb human trafficking in the area. The EU border protection agency, Frontex, had requested Denmark’s support for the task.

Millions of vaccines going abroad
The government has announced it will donate 3.7 million vaccines to COVAX, the international vaccine co-operation that helps tackle the pandemic in developing countries. The donated vaccines were not in Denmark’s national vaccine program. Denmark has now donated 10 million vaccines to COVAX since the pandemic began. 

Denmark eyeing more green EU funds
The government has launched a new strategy that aims to attract more European knowledge, co-operation and funding to help the country in its green transition. Every year, the EU sets aside billions of euros to help member states contribute to the climate challenge and the government wants more of those funds to end up in Denmark. More expertise and financing is critical to promote the green transition, contended the research minister, Jesper Petersen.

Afghanistan report commissioned
A broad majority of Parliament has agreed to commission a new report that investigates Denmark’s civil and military efforts in Afghanistan since 2001. Among other things, the report will shed light on central political decisions pertaining to military escalation and de-escalation and civil action, including development aid. A key goal of the report is to identify relevant lessons that can be of value in the future and reveal how the Taliban could retake power in Afghanistan after two decades of massive civil and military efforts in the country.

Huge aid package for Afghanistan
The government has earmarked 168 million kroner to help the critical food and human rights situation in Afghanistan. The money will go to Danish NGOs working in the area and to UN efforts like the World Food Programme. Denmark has now given 500 million kroner to humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan in 2021. “Half of the population needs food and is in the midst of a freezing winter,” said the development minister, Flemming Møller Mortensen.

Frigate sees more Gulf of Guinea action
The Esbern Snare, the Danish frigate that hit headlines recently for gunning down pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, has had another encounter. The vessel responded to a distress signal from a container ship, but the pirates escaped and six crew members from the container ship are now missing. The Danes followed the pirates’ skiff from a safe distance so as to not endanger the hostages, but when the pirates left international waters, it had to turn away as Danish soldiers do not have permission to operate in national waters. 

Green lift for development policy
As part of its recent 2022 Budget Agreement, the government has set aside 100 million kroner to make its development aid efforts more sustainable. According to the agreement, 30 percent of Denmark’s development aid should be green by 2023.  The development minister, Flemming Møller Mortensen, said that the agreement underlined Denmark’s position as a world leader when it comes to climate aid to poor and vulnerable countries. 

More aid for UN peace fund
The government has decided to set aside 150 million kroner for the UN’s Peacebuilding Fund looking ahead to 2023. That figure is a 50 percent increase compared to the amount Denmark gave from 2018-2020, and it makes Denmark among the biggest donors to the fund. The support is an important aspect of Denmark’s increased engagement in UN work to promote peace and security around the world. More specifically, the Danish aid will go to supporting the fund’s efforts in promoting dialogue and including women and young people in peace processes. Also supported will be the fund’s work in relation to the impact climate change has on conflict and instability. 

Stepping up in Kosovo
Denmark will enhance its co-operation with Kosovo in a bid to promote the green transition, human rights and the rule of law development. It is expected that about 45 million kroner a year will be spent on the initiatives. Energy consumption in Kosovo is four times higher than the EU average – an area that Denmark has ample expertise to help.