Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Liberals’ Løkke Rasmussen forms small minority government, publishes work plan

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 30th June 2015

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of Venstre, the Danish liberals, has formed a small minority government of 17 ministers, who took office yesterday. The government has published its work plan and used its first day in office to reinstate a tax credit scheme for homeowners making improvements or getting maintenance and gardening work carried out.

Following several days of negotiations with other parties, mainly with the Danish People’s Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Alliance (the other three parties in the blue bloc on the right), after the parliamentary election on 18th June, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of Venstre, the Danish liberals, has formed a small minority government of 17 ministers, who took office yesterday.

With just 34 seats out of the 179 in Folketinget, the Danish parliament, Løkke Rasmussen and his party must negotiate with other parties to find a majority position in most legislative areas – aptly illustrated yesterday afternoon, when Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the new minister of finance, announced that Venstre, the Danish People’s Party (DPP) and the Conservatives, on the right wing, had agreed with the Socialist People’s Party (SF), on the left wing, and the centre-left party the Alternative to reinstate a tax credit scheme, killed off by the now deposed Social Democratic-Social Liberal coalition government from 1st January 2015, for homeowners making improvements or getting maintenance and gardening work carried out. The scheme will be changed later this year, however, so it has a greener profile in the future and will also apply to people who rent their accommodation, pleasing SF and the Alternative.

Parliament will be recalled this week for a brief session when the new government will also table a bill with measures – predominantly financial – to make Denmark a less attractive target for asylum-seekers and refugees. The aim is to reduce the number of people coming to Denmark for asylum.

Something that DPP and the parties in the blue bloc agree on, this will be accompanied at some time by a ‘pronounced strengthening of the control at the borders’ in order to fight crime and illegal immigration, another political requirement from DPP that forms part of the new government’s work plan.

The government also plans to reduce income taxes, to make it more attractive for people to work, and it will not increase other taxes. It will introduce a cap on certain transfer incomes to the unemployed, measures to encourage people not currently saving in a non-state pensions scheme, and measures to speed up diagnosis and initial treatment of illnesses.

A referendum on the Danish opt-out on justice and home affairs in the European Union, planned by the previous government, will be bought forward and will be held before Christmas 2015.

A commission currently looking into the background for Denmark’s participation (under Venstre’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2003) in the USA-led military invasion of Iraq, and the behaviour of Danish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be disbanded. They money saved will be earmarked for improvements to the conditions of Danish veterans.

The government will also appoint ‘an experienced, respected person with international views’ to find strategic ways of coordinating Denmark’s policies in security and defence, foreign affairs, trade and development aid.

Danish development aid will be cut to 0.7% of gross national income from 0.85%, and the number of countries to receive the aid will be reduced.

Click here for the list of ministers (in Danish) in the new government.

Racism and discrimination everyday practices in Denmark – ENAR

Monday, November 9th, 2009

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 9th November 2009

Racism and discriminatory practices take place every day, says ENAR, the European Network Against Racism, in its 2008 Shadow Report, ‘Racism in Denmark’. Many academic surveys, reports from distinguished organisations and NGOs have documented the unequal treatment given minorities in Denmark.

In its statistics, the Danish government describes non-European communities in a particular manner, according to ENAR, the European Network Against Racism.

Discriminated groups vary in ethnicity, cultures and religions, but, in the last few years, an open and hostile atmosphere towards Muslim groups has become very visible in all spheres of life, the organisation says.

Racism and discriminatory practices take place every day, as evidenced by many academic surveys, reports from distinguished organisations and NGOs, which have documented beyond doubt the unequal treatment given to minorities.

However, the ENAR report states, the single most discriminated area is the labour market – employment opportunities, apprenticeships and the negative views of employers.

In another discriminating area, housing and accommodation, “minorities are often directed by housing societies towards places and quarters where the percentage of socially deprived Danes and various minority groups is already high,” ENAR states. “Having done that, the authorities then call those areas ‘ghettoes’.”

In education there is an important focus on the Danish language, while mother-tongue education for minority children is almost abolished. There are also efforts to spread minority children in as many schools as possible in the name of integration. “The Danish education system is thus becoming a tool in the hands of anti-minority political forces,” the anti-racism organisation says.

In the health sector, children of asylum-seeking families are suffering while interpreting facilities are non-existent for women and elderly sick patients.

The relationship between the police and minority youth deteriorated in 2008 due to the increasing use of racial profiling by the authorities in stop-and-search raids in the neighbourhood, ENAR says. Police arrogance has caused friction and stress. Although Danish society has been relatively peaceful until recently, racial violence and crime have accelerated steadily, causing deaths and shootings.

“Right-wing movements take advantage of the negative atmosphere and recruit new members for their cause,” the ENAR report states. “Harassment of Muslim women and Jewish students is a cause for alarm.”

When it comes to accessing goods and services in the private sector, discrimination in discos, bars and entertainment places is still very widespread and out of the control of authorities.

In public services, small minority children are forcefully removed from homes and taken to Danish foster parents – a big issue that minorities feel very strongly about, the organisation says in its report.

“The media are often hostile towards non-European minorities, especially towards Muslim communities,” ENAR says. “The republishing of the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in 2008, splashing headlines in terror suspect cases before the trial or conviction, giving the green light to anti-minority politicians and focusing excessively on the negative stories have created a very bad image of minorities. Media debates as usual focused on Islam, the headscarf, radicalisation, and terrorism by Muslims.”

According to ENAR’s shadow report 2008 on Denmark, such developments have a political and legal context. “In the absence of strong legal protective measures against racism and discrimination and the free reign for politicians to say what they like, minorities have great difficulty in attaining equal rights and opportunities,” ENAR states.

Talking to NGOs, it became clear to ENAR that, in recent years, civil society, which was very active until 2001, has lost hope and faith in a positive change.

“On the anti-discrimination front, the government refuses to officially acknowledge the existence of racism in Denmark,” ENAR says. The government’s action plans “are full of talk about diversity and mono-cultural integration without a concentrated effort to tackle racism and discrimination,” it adds. “The name of the newly established Board of Equal Treatment (which does not deal with racism or discrimination) is a good example. Most of the new laws concerning minorities are actually new restrictions on citizenship, family reunions, asylum and social rights.”

According to ENAR, Denmark has been repeatedly criticised by EU institutions and international organisations, but, due to the lack of sanctions, the government has dismissed all valid criticism.

Successful integration has been linked by the government to the end of third-country nationals entering Denmark. This policy has had the desired effects by reducing asylum and family reunions from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, especially Muslim countries.

“The whole burden of integration has been put on the shoulder of ethnic minorities who are asked to adopt the Danish way of living by discarding their own values and traditions,” ENAR states in the report.

The anti-racism organisation notes that there are few practical remedies against racism and racial profiling, but there is a great focus on anti-terrorism.

Danish anti-terrorism laws are stricter than EU laws, ENAR says, and some cases in 2008 proved that many people were arrested without any substantial proof.

“Such drastic measures have alienated and angered Muslim communities who find themselves targeted because of suspicions and actions of a very tiny number of Muslim individuals,” the organisation adds. “The result of these negative developments is social exclusion, increase in poverty, break up of trust and the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ divide.”

ENAR says it believes that this divide will widen if the Danish media, politicians and local authorities do not come to realise that ethnic and religious minorities are here to stay and that an intercultural society with equal rights and opportunities is the best guarantee for an inclusive society.

“2008 was the European Year for Intercultural Living,” the organisation says. “Minorities hope that the Danish media, politicians and authorities have learnt from this message to not only divert their attention from Danish values but to focus on universal values of respect, accept and understanding for all.”