Thursday, March 23

Inger Støjberg: Former Danish immigration minister sentenced to impeachment for asylum policy

A former Danish minister has been convicted of illegally separating asylum-seeking couples, one of whom was under 18 years of age.

Inger Støjberg was found guilty in a rare impeachment trial and sentenced to two months in prison on Monday.

The court determined that the former minister had neglected her ministerial duties “intentionally or through gross negligence.”

The judges also found Støjberg guilty of providing parliament with “incorrect or misleading information” and agreed that the order had violated Danish law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

It was the first time the Danish Prosecution Court had met in 26 years.

MPs will now decide whether he can continue to serve as a member of the 179-seat Folketing. Støjberg has maintained his innocence throughout the legal process.

Støjberg was accused of misleading parliamentary committees on four occasions about a separation policy she adopted as minister.

The 48-year-old had served as Denmark’s minister of immigration, integration and housing from 2015 to 2019 under the country’s previous center-right government.

In 2016, it initiated the policy of separating minors from their partners over concerns that the relationships may have involved forced marriages.

Twenty-three couples, mostly from Syria, were separated and placed in separate centers before politics came to a halt months later. Authorities said some couples came to Denmark with children or while the woman was pregnant.

Women who were under 18, the legal age for marriage in Denmark, said they had consented to their marriages.

Denmark’s parliament had voted in favor of Støjberg being tried after a parliament-appointed commission said that separating couples in asylum centers was “clearly illegal”.

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Staff members from his integration ministry had also warned him that the practice was illegal.

An investigation into the so-called “case of the girl bride” led her to resign as vice president of the Liberal Party.

The Prosecution Court, which adjudicates cases in which government ministers are accused of illegal misconduct and misuse of office, was last used in Denmark in 1995.

On that occasion, former Justice Minister Erik Ninn-Hansen received a four-month suspended sentence for preventing Sri Lankan refugees from bringing their families to Denmark.

The court consists of 15 Supreme Court justices and 15 members appointed by parliament.

Since it was created in 1849, the court has considered five cases and the Støjberg case is the third to result in a guilty verdict.

Støjbergalso, considered an immigration hardliner, introduced a 2016 law that required newly arrived asylum seekers to hand over valuables such as jewelry and gold to help pay for their stay in the country.

The Social Democratic government that came to power in 2019 has not removed restrictions on immigration, even introducing tougher measures in recent months. In April, he revoked the residence permits for Syrian refugees.

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