The Danish government wants to repatriate native Syrians to Damascus after a report shows that there are areas in Syria where security has improved. The decision is being criticized by activists and the case could reach the European Court of Human Rights.
The Danish attempt to return hundreds of Syrian refugees to their home country because they consider the city of Damascus safe sets “a dangerous precedent” and encourages other countries to do the same, according to lawyers who will take the Danish government to the European Court of Rights Humans. Currently, about 1200 Syrians natives of Damascus live in Denmark.
According to The Guardian, since last summer the Danish authorities started to reject applications for renewal of the right of residence temporary to Syrians. The Copenhagen government justified the decision with a report that concluded that security in certain parts of Syria had “significantly improved”.
Guernica 37, which specializes in offering pro-bono assistance in human rights cases, is working with lawyers for families in Denmark who will be affected by the government’s decision. The defense will argue that neither the United Nations nor several countries consider Damascus safe and that Denmark is violating the principle of non-refoulement of the Geneva convention, which prohibits the return of refugees to a country where they may be subject to persecution or torture.
“The situation in Denmark is very worrying. While the risk of violence directly linked to the conflict may have diminished in parts of Syria, the risk of political violence remains the same and Refugees returning from Europe are being targeted of the regime’s security forces”, can be read in the note from Guernica 37.
Since Denmark does not have diplomatic relations with the Syria of Bashar al-Assad, refugees who are denied residence applications can be held in detention centers indefinitely.
Copenhagen recognizes that Syrian men are at risk of being called into the army or suffering consequences for fleeing conscription, so those most affected by the new decision are women and the elderly.
“I feel nothing but fear of going into the immigration center alone, but I can’t go back to Syria. It’s like they believe we have a choice, but if I come back, I’ll be arrested. You can’t do anything in immigration centers, you can’t work, you can’t study. it’s like a prison“Ghalia, a 27-year-old girl who lost her residence permit in March, told the British newspaper.
This new position on refugees also applies to countries other than Syria. According to the The Guardian, analysts believe the new policy is an attempt by the center-left coalition to regain votes.
Last month, Denmark announced that it had started negotiations with countries outside Europe to receive refugees awaiting the asylum decision, such as Tunisia and Morocco. If they stay out of Europe, migrants would no longer make the risky journey in the Mediterranean, as many don’t need asylum and they’re just looking for a better life, argues the executive.
Some lawyers argue that it will not be necessary to take the Danish government to court in the hope that the executive will reconsider.
Jens Rye-Andersen, a Danish immigration lawyer, believes the rate of rejection of applications for residence is decreasing due to criticism from the United Nations, human rights groups and the Danish population.
“I think the government is listening to us and I hope they change their minds. for a while. There have been many changes to the asylum system over the past two years and clearly they are not working. The experts who made the initial report that the government used to say that security in Syria has improved are saying that their work is being misinterpreted,” says Rye-Andersen.
Denmark’s position on refugees has changed in recent years due to the growth of the far-right Danish People’s Party. The country has about 5.8 million inhabitants, with 500,000 born abroad and of these 35,000 are Syrians. In 2018, the country proposed send visa-free migrants to a remote island.